Lonestar Models 1/48 BT-13 Valiant Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||August 2006||Manufacturer||Lonestar Models|
|Kit Number||-||Primary Media||Resin, White Metal, Vac|
|Pros||Simple construction, nicely detailed, excellent price||Cons||Minor pinholes/bubbles in the cast parts|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$40.00|
The Vultee BT-13 was one of the more famous US pilot trainers from World War II, second only to the T-6 Texan/SNJ Harvard. In USAAF service, the aircraft was designated BT-13 Valiant, while the Navy designated the type as SNV. No matter what it was designated, pilots knew it as the 'Vultee Vibrator' because of the violent shaking the pilots would receive as the aircraft approached stall speed.
The BT-13/SNV was powered by the 450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-985, while the BT-15 was the same aircraft with the Pratt & Whitney R-975. From the time the production contract was awarded in September 1939 through shut-down of the production line in the summer of 1944, over 11.500 Vultee Vibrators were produced.
Lonestar Models was present in the vendor's room at the IPMS/USA National Convention and on display in their case was a variety of interesting resin kits and conversions. One kit that definitely caught my eye was the new 1/48 BT-13 'Vibrator' that looked pretty nice.
Cast in tan resin, the castings are rather nicely done. As you can see in the images, the fuselage is one-piece and hollow-cast with thin walls. The wing us also one-piece and nestles under the fuselage. I didn't see any warpage in the wing, but more experienced resin modelers know how to correct any minor anomalies that will sometimes crop up.
The interior is what really caught my eye. There are separately cast interior sidewalls, cockpit floor, pilots seats with molded-on seatbelts/harnesses, and all of the other essential elements.
The Pratt & Whitney engine is also nicely cast with an exhaust collector ring and stack in place. Very impressive work. There is a very thin cowling that goes over this engine. Once again, this is some nice casting!
White metal parts are included for the landing gear struts, control sticks and variable pitch propeller.
The canopy is vacuformed and only a single canopy is included with the kit. Lonestar also provides a resin mold for you to vacuform replacements should the need arise.
About the only real work that I can see other than filling some minor pinholes/bubbles is a mold ridge line on the left and right sides of the rear fuselage. Some careful work with a sanding stick and/or filler should do the trick.
The kit does not provide any markings aside from four early cockades and a US Army identifier for under the wing. Check your references because the sky is the limit on paint jobs for this aircraft. In the brief search that I did on the internet, I found period shots of the aircraft in Navy trainer yellow, USAAF blue/yellow, bare metal, shiny (polished) bare metal, gray, and more. Since none of these aircraft had much of any specialized markings, you can easily find what you need among your spares to render the aircraft you've selected.
This appears to be a very straightforward build and with the way the parts are laid out, about the only seam line you'll need to fill will be the fuselage/wing joint and that looks minimal so far. The two best parts of this release are the subject, which has not (to the best of my knowledge) been produced in this scale before, and the price. $40 for a multimedia resin kit? If this had been released by another well-known resin kit producer, the retail price would likely be five times higher.
Definitely recommended for skilled multimedia modelers!