Sky-High 1/72 T-34C Turbo Mentor Kit First Look
|Date of Review||July 2009||Manufacturer||Sky-High|
|Subject||T-34C Turbo Mentor||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||7225||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Simple build||Cons||One-piece canopy|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$9.50|
Beechcraft developed the Model 45 tandem seat military primary trainer using proven components from their Bonanza production line. Powered by a six-cylinder O-470 engine rated at 225 horsepower, the USAF procured 450 as the T-34A Mentor and the USN would buy 423 as the T-34B. From a pilot’s point of view, the only real difference between the two aircraft was the Air Force version used a carbureted engine whereas the Navy opted for a fuel-injected engine. If you had the opportunity to fly both types and forgot which one you were starting, it was all too easy to flood the engine and/or wear down the battery trying to get the engine lit off.
The T-34C was a further development for the US Navy to adapt a Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engine de-rated to 400 shaft horsepower to the Mentor airframe and provide aspiring Naval Aviators with pure turbine-powered training from day one. The first T-34Cs entered service in 1977. Compared to the 225 hp T-34A/B Mentor, the T-34C is the sport model of the Mentor family.
Beechcraft developed a derivative of the T-34C, dubbed T-34C-1, which incorporated underwing pylons and additional power to carry more weight aloft. The T-34C-1 was targeted as an advanced trainer, forward air control (FAC) platform and counter-insurgency (COIN) for international sales. This version of the Mentor has been sold to at least Taiwan, Morocco, Ecuador, Indonesia, Peru and Argentina.
Here is a nice new release from Sky-High of Poland. This is a limited run kit will take a little more skill to assemble as it will need some trimming and dry-fitting to get all the parts together. With only 46 parts in this release, this won't be difficult for anyone with some experience with limited run kits.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus a single clear part for the canopy. If this kit looks familiar, it is very similar to the Czech Model T-34C released a number of years ago in 1/48 scale, but there are some distinct differences as well. Unlike the Czech Model kit, the wing builds into a complete unit that slips onto the underside of the fuselage whereas the Czech Model kit had wing halves that butt-fit against the lower sides of that fuselage. Here the vertical stab is integral to the starboard fuselage half where the all the tail surfaces were separately molded in the 1/48 kit.
The cockpit has a simple floorboard with seats and control sticks. This may not be a big deal since the canopy is molded as one part so neither canopy will get opened here, but if you do set your build up with the canopies open, you'll want to add side consoles to both cockpits. There are two optional crew figures to be placed into the cockpits.
The instructions don't mention ballast, but given the geometry of the kit, you'll want to add some weight in the nose or this bird will sit on its tail.
Considering how simple the exterior of the T-34 is, this kit nicely captures that detail both in the molded-in panels and dimples to the landing gear and distinctive chin scoops.
This release is actually set up as a combat trainer and COIN aircraft with four underwing pylons. The kit provides two rocket pods and two gun pods to arm up this aircraft.
This kit has markings for one example - a T-34C-1 of the Argentine Navy.
My sincere thanks to HobbyTerra for this review sample!