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T-38A Talon 'USAF'

Wolfpack 1/48 T-38A Talon 'USAF' Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2013 Manufacturer Wolfpack
Subject T-38A Talon 'USAF' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 10001 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) TBA

First Look

T-38A Talon 'USAF'
T-38A Talon 'USAF'
T-38A Talon 'USAF'
T-38A Talon 'USAF'

The T-38 Talon was a trainer variant of Northrop's project N-156 that developed a lightweight, low-cost, single-seat, supersonic interceptor. While the USAF was not very interested in the single-seat aircraft, they lacked a supersonic trainer in the 1950s. The venerable T-33 Shooting Star was the best jet trainer in the inventory and the Air Force recognized that they needed a trainer to bring pilots into the supersonic age.

The T-38 first flew in 1959 and would enter service in 1961. Production would run through 1972 with over 1,100 aircraft built. The T-38 was initially used primarily as a training aircraft, taking new pilots out of the T-37 and giving them experience with higher performance aircraft. The aircraft continues in this role today, with a number of them being updated to the T-38C configuration to provide pilots with the look and feel of contemporary service aircraft.

The T-38 would soon see another dimension in its capabilities, that of an aggressor/adversary aircraft. The Air Force and Navy used the T-38 as a MiG-21 simulator until more capable F-5 airframes could be obtained. Even after the T-38 completed its aggressor mission, a number of the aircraft were modified into the AT-38B configuration to provide 'fighter lead-in' training to teach new fighter pilots the essential skills of the mission at a significantly lower cost per hour than training on their assigned aircraft.

Almost 50 years after the T-38's first flight, the aircraft remains in service with the USAF with no replacements on the horizon. The T-38 also serves with NASA as a proficiency trainer and has provided flight training in a number of international air forces including Germany, Portugal, Taiwan, and Turkey.

A number of years ago, Fujimi produced the T-38 Talon in '1/48 scale' but the kit actually scaled out to 1/50 and the airframe was really an F-5B. Sword released the first accurate T-38A in 1/48 over five years ago, but it was typical limited run kit with the airframe in styrene and the details cast in resin. The kit took a little work and skill to build, but good results could be had out of the box. Until now, that was the only option available for the Talon in 1/48 scale.

Wolfpack has been stepping up their capabilities. Most modelers will know their great resin detail sets, and more recently, their bundling of existing kits with their resin details such as Academy's 1/48 Su-27 Flanker kits bundled with some beautiful resin updates. Here is one of Wolfpack's first new-tool kits, not a reboxing of another kit, the T-38A Talon in 1/48 scale. This is the first complete kit of the T-38 produced completely in styrene. Among the features and options in the box:

  • Nicely detailed cockpits and egress systems
  • Positionable canopies
  • Optional GPS antenna ahead of windscreen
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Optional centerline travel pod
  • Detailed afterburner chambers

This is the first set of instructions I've seen in a while that had clear painting instructions during the step-by-step assembly process. I define clear as being a color block (a rectangle with a color-printed representation of the color) along with the printed name of the color, FS595 number, and even a GSI paint number. Other companies like Revell AG will have a simple paint number that corresponds to a Revell or Humbrol paint color without a real reference as to what that color is really supposed to be.

And while we're on the instructions, this booklet is printed in full color on good paper so you won't have eyestrain trying to interpret an assembly drawing or paint number printed on yellowed paper.

Markings are provided for this kit on a sheet of Cartograf decals featuring five subjects:

  • T-38A, 70-1559, 445 FLTS/412 TW, Edwards AFB, 2009
  • T-38A, 70-1574, 445 FLTS/412 TW, Edwards AFB, 2010
  • T-38A, 67-14845, 394 CTS/509 BW, Whiteman AFB, 2011
  • T-38A, 65-10429, 1 RS/9 RW, Beale AFB, 2011
  • T-38A, 64-13301, 1 RS/9 RW, Beale AFB, 2010

The decal sheet provides airframe stenciling as well as national and distinctive unit markings.

This is a great looking kit from Wolfpack and I hope they'll come back with the AT-38B Fighter Lead-in variant as well as the modernized T-38C in the near future!

You'll be seeing these kits on store shelves very soon as they are being imported into North America by Model Recticifier Corporation (MRC). As soon as pricing information is available, I'll update the data block up top with that information.

For a look at this kit built-up, look here.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!