Trumpeter 1/32 Nanchang CJ-6 Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Crisp detailing, lots of 'warbird' opportunities
The aircraft industries in China have long used existing designs to build up their air forces. These designs are mostly based upon Soviet aircraft, many of which have been build under license, others being reverse-engineered. A few of those designs even look startlingly familiar, such as the Tupolev Tu-4 (B-29 Superfortress) and Lissunov L-2 (C-47 Dakota). More importantly, the Chinese engineers were usually able to improve on many of those designs, such as the turbo-prop-powered Tu-4.
Yaks at the 2005 Nellis AFB Airshow USAF Photo
One aircraft needed to train the thousands of pilots that have served or currently serve within China's Air Force is a solid aircraft that can teach the fundamental flying skills. In the former Soviet Union, this aircraft was the Yak-18, whose design has been incrementally improved over the years to render the Yak-50 and Yak-52 trainers.
China built the Yak-18 under license as the CJ-5, produced by Nanchang. Like the Yak-18, the CJ-5 was also incrementally improved and eventually led to the CJ-6. The main differences between the CJ-6 and the corresponding Yak-50/52 is the squared-off wing tips and tail feathers on the CJ-6, a frameless wrap-around windscreen on the CJ-6, and a completely different retractable landing gear. The nose gear on the Yak-50/52 and CJ-6 retract aft, but the main gear retract forward and hang out under the aircraft on the Yaks whilst the CJ-6 main gear retract inboard into recessed wheel wells.
Interestingly enough, a number of CJ-6 trainers have been exported to the US as warbirds to join the Yak 50/52 trainers already among the 'budget' warbird ranks.
For those of you who skipped the intro, Trumpeter is not producing a kit of the Jeep CJ-6. Yet. This is the Nanchang CJ-6 trainer in service to train new pilots. So why be interested in a model of a Chinese trainer? Read on.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit consists of 136 parts and is presented on three parts trees plus a small tree containing the clear parts. Like the previously released Yak-18, this kit is simplicity while retaining much of the detail that makes Trumpeter famous.
Construction begins with a nicely detailed cockpit, but this trainer lacks photo-etched parts that would be used for seat belts and harnesses for the crew seats. I am thinking that this trainer kit might be a good training kit to introduce modelers to a kit of greater detail without the challenge of multimedia materials. Nevertheless, the instrument panels still use acetate instrument faces to bring the panels to life.
As with many of Trumpeter's kits, the engine in this kit is highly detailed, from the cooling fan behind the propeller to the exhaust manifold and accessory packs mounted to the rear of the engine. The engine is mounted to the firewall using a realistic mount, and affixed to the firewall is an oil reservoir to keep the radial engine lubed. The cowling halves do enclose the engine, but these look like they can be friction mounted so that you can admire your engine detailing later on.
Assembly of the remainder of the kit is simple and straightforward as there are no photo-etched hinges required for the flight control surfaces nor rubber tires to seal, though one nice touch here is that the wheel hubs are molded separately from the tires, making painting MUCH easier.
Markings are provided for one example in the full-color profile, though you can see in the image to the right that additional numbers have been provided to replicate virtually any of the thousands of CJ-6s in the fleet.
So again, why build one of these aircraft? For trainer lovers, this is a nice kit. For warbird lovers, this kit offers an interesting opportunity. Imagine buying one of these aircraft and updating it to be licensed in the US. What would your personal warbird look like? A stock Chinese trainer? A search of Google images have shown some interesting paint jobs are already starting to surface and check out those two Yaks at the beginning of this article! You can have your own radial-engined warbird wearing your favorite colors, all in 1/32 scale too!
If you're looking for a fun build that won't get you lost in research of the full-scale subject, this is definitely an excellent choice. With the world of the warbird clan out there, plus few photos or details of the operational trainers in China, you can work to your own standards and have a little fun. At the suggested retail price, this is a lot of nice detail at a very reasonable price!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!