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T-33A Shooting Star Kit

Great Wall Hobbies 1/48 T-33A Shooting Star Kit First Look

By Fotios Rouch

Date of Review May 2016 Manufacturer Great Wall Hobby
Subject T-33A Shooting Star Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4819 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautifully done model of this distinctive aircraft Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $53.95

First Look

T-33A Shooting Star Kit
T-33A Shooting Star Kit
T-33A Shooting Star Kit
T-33A Shooting Star Kit
T-33A Shooting Star Kit
T-33A Shooting Star Kit

The T-33 is very well known to anyone interested in jet aviation. I will not regurgitate standard history but I will mention that almost every NATO Air Force and many non-NATO Air Forces used this aircraft as their primary trainer.

This GHW project started some time ago, around the beginning of 2014. At least the research portion started by one of the great guys in our hobby business. Some modelers help for the love of the hobby and the wish to see a nice and accurate representation of their favorite subjects. I was glad to have a tiny part in this project, mostly because I got to see the creative process as executed in the digital age. Back in the Golden Age of the hobby or maybe just the romantic age, helping out Collect-Aire or Classic Airframes was a huge kick. Now it is all CAD which brings good and bad points. In the old days we could see the master being worked on in wood or clay or what not and make comments and corrections. Now we mostly see CAD renderings which are cool and fast but do not reveal errors in the same way, at least not to my eyes. Then the pre-production 3D print comes and if mistakes do not get intercepted, metal molds get cut and then only minor fixes are cost effective.

So what do we get from GWH after all this research? I assure you that the research ring leader was completely against any generic drawings or existing models to be used as the base for this model. We started from scratch using the real aircraft, measurements, photos and Lockheed plans. A huge number of iterations took place before the CAD renderings were looking good.

The final product looks very good to my eyes. In the box we get very crisp light grey plastic with very finely engraved panel lines. The kit is not very conventional in some ways and I think I like the approach. For example, the wheel well part includes the speed brakes and is full of nice detail. The speed brakes and landing gear doors come all in one piece as you can see in the images. Maybe a bit unconventional but a breeze if you want to pose your model in a flight configuration. Separating the parts in order to pose the speed brakes dropped and the landing gear deployed is obviously very easy and it only needs an X-Acto and a file.

  • The intake trunks go deep enough to end in darkness and no turbine face is provided nor needed.
  • The guns are blanked over which is fine for most model representations.
  • The nose piece is a separate part and it will need a few minutes of cleaning the mold seam. No biggie.
  • The wheels are OK and presented with bulging. Maybe some modelers will choose the True Details wheel set which is also heavily bulged.
  • The instrument panels have somewhat heavy instrument bezels. Easy to paint well and drybrush but not too realistic. The decal instrument dials might not show to good effect, unless maybe the modeler sands down the back of the instrument panels.
  • The canopy is very clear without a mold seem or maybe a hint of one. It took great effort to get the shape right.
  • The cockpit is convincing and can be built straight out of the box but a it can be improved upon.
  • The flaps can be posed dropped and this will make the model look busy and nice, especially with the provided boarding ladder.
  • The intakes came out nice and they were also the subject of involved research.

The decals look nice but with the number of subjects out there, I suspect a flood of decal releases by the various outfits. Similarly, I expect lots of aftermarket stuff to hit the market for cockpit details and other accessories.

I’m looking forward to building this model as my dad's basic jet trainer in the Royal Hellenic Air Force as it were back in the day.

Many thanks to Jennings and the GWH for their generosity in providing this sample.