Minicraft 1/48 T-41 Mescalero Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2009||Manufacturer||Minicraft|
|Kit Number||11646||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nicely detailed kit||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$27.95|
The T-41 Mescalero was the Cessna 172 built to military specifications. Primarily intended for flight training duties, the T-41A was essentially an off-the-shelf Skyhawk C-172F. The Army acquired the T-41B, which was essentially the same airframe, but replaced the 145hp engine and fixed-pitch propeller with a 210 horsepower engine and constant speed propeller. A few years later, the USAF bought the T-41C which was powered by the same 210hp engine as the Army's T-41B, but retained a fixed-pitch propeller set for optimum climb performance. These T-41Cs were optimized for high-density altitude operations out of the Air Force Academy's runways in Colorado Springs, CO. Eventually the Air Force updated their C-model T-41s into the T-41D which updated the avionics and added the constant speed propeller used by the Army.
For those of us who've flown in the various military aeroclubs around the US, we've had the opportunity to fly at least one of the T-41 variants as they were inexpensive to operate and maintain. The T-41B was especially fun as it looked like a Skyhawk, but it was faster and could climb much better than its fixed-pitch brethern. Cessna finally offered the T-41B/D configuration in its commercial line-up as the Hawk XP (which also was fun to fly).
Here's a nice kit from Minicraft in 1/48 scale - the Cessna 172. This kit has been released in a few civilian packages and is now available as the T-41 Mescalero. What's the difference? The plastic is the same, the markings are different.
The kit is molded in white styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree in clear styrene. Out of the box, the kit looks as nice and offers some interesting possibilities.
For many folks, one Skyhawk looks like any other, but like any other aircraft subject, there are differences between production models and some are not as subtle as others. As correctly depicted on the boxart, the T-41 didn't fly with wheel pants, so you won't need those parts in this build (unless you opt to build the civilian Skyhawk out of this kit).
The interior provided in this kit is the same as all of the other releases and you may want to make some changes here. They have a jump seat in the cargo area behind the rear seats, toss that part. The front and rear seats have headrests and nicely ribbed seatbacks. You can remove the headrests and fill in the ribbing on the seats, these were utility trainers for the military.
The windscreen is the correct one-piece unit that was in use by this time, but you'll want to check your references on the rear window - this kit has a centerpost which was on some models of the Skyhawk while others had the one-piece rear window.
If you're building the T-41B, you'll need to replace the propeller. The kit provides the propeller with the spinner molded in place which is okay for the T-41A, but the T-41B had a larger hub for the constant speed mechanism that wasn't covered by a spinner. As I recall, some of the fixed-pitch T-41s I've flown had also been operated without their spinners. Check your references, this isn't a difficult correction.
Markings are provided for two examples - a T-41C from the USAF Academy and a US Army T-41B.
This is a nice looking kit and the basic styrene parts will serve the basis for modeling quite a few of the variants of the venerable Skyhawk family with simple modeling skills required to affect those changes. I like the T-41B marking options because there is some great modeling potential with the minor changes to replicate the B-model as well as the striking Gloss Olive Drab, Fluorescent Red, and White colors worn by the Army Mescaleros, especially if you do a little weathering to fade out the upper portions of the red given how quickly that color fades in sunlight. Have some fun!
My sincere thanks to Minicraft Models for this review sample!