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  1. AT-6C/D & SNJ-3/3C Texan (SH72450) ’Training to Win’ 1:72 Special Hobby The North American Aviation T-6 Texan has a long history dating from its inception as the NA-16 in 1935 right up to 1970, and even today there are flying versions in various Warbird associations, sometimes masquerading as Mitsubishi Zeroes in films. The T-6 (in various designations from NA-16, through B1 to T-6 etc.) was originally produced as a basic trainer but over time it was upgraded to an advanced trainer (AT-6 Texan) with improved performance for basic and combat type flying training, plus an added facility for training rear gunners. The T-6 was also supplied to Britain and Commonwealth nations and designated the Harvard (I & II) and was in service during WW2 and for many years post war. Many British, Commonwealth and American pilots earned their wings flying a Texan, although it was known to have a fairly severe stall characteristic. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp that gave it a unique harsh buzzing engine note, the SNJ-3C was fitted with arrestor gear to facilitate deck landing trials for pilots destined to serve on aircraft carriers. The Kit This is a re-boxing of the Academy kit by Special Hobby with an additional injected clear sprue for the different canopies used and some resin parts, a small Photo-Etch (PE) fret, a miniscule slip of pre-printed clear acetate sheet, a decal sheet and instruction booklet. The Academy kit is well-regarded, so the additional parts and decal sheet should give the model an additional boost by the time you have completed it. Construction begins with the cockpit, starting with the two seats, which both get a new set of PE four-point seat belts before they are glued to the cockpit floor, which also receives a linked pair of control columns running down much of the centre of the floor. The sidewalls are applied to the floor along with a central coaming, rear bulkhead and rear deck, with a decal for the instrument panel under the coaming. The front panel also has a decal, and is attached to a spur inside the front of the cockpit aperture within the fuselage, while the cockpit assembly is held in place by a number of raised supports, but first several small sections around the cockpit and front cowling are removed, as shown in red. Only one decal option doesn’t have the resin insert in the starboard side of the nose cowling, so get your decal option sorted early in the process to avoid issues. The exhaust collector ring is slid over the fluted front of the fuselage, then the engine is made up, consisting of a bulkhead to which the engine is moulded as one part, fixing on a ledge inside the resin cowling, except the first decal option, which uses the kit part. The twin bladed prop inserts into the front of the bell-housing and is secured at the rear by a small cup that can leave the blade mobile. The low-mounted wings are supplied full-width on the underside, into which the central bay insert is placed, painting the area interior green, as well as small sections of the inside of the upper wings where the gear legs will fix. It can then be mated with the fuselage, and the completed engine assembly attaches by two pegs at the front. A resin machine gun with fairing is glued onto the starboard side in front of the cockpit for one decal option, and the gunsight is only needed that same option, folding up into a triangular shape, with the glazing replicated by the small and eminently losable slip of acetate, taking great care with the glue. The elevators are each a single part and fix to the tail by the usual slot and tab method, then the canopy can be installed, starting with the windscreen, then adding the two rear sections that are found on the additional clear sprue. Another clear part forms the glazing for the wing-mounted landing light in the leading edge of each wing, and a pitot inserts into the starboard wingtip. An intake attaches to the port side of the forward fuselage, then right in the pilot’s eyeline, a post for the radio antenna is fixed to the deck in front of the windscreen. Inverting the model (taking care of that antenna), the landing gear can be made up from individual legs with separate outer bay doors and wheels. The tail wheel has a choice of a faired-in assembly for one option, or a bare wheel with strut moulded-in for the rest. One camouflage option also needs an arrestor hook and curved bumper from the resin parts glued in front of the tail wheel. The final act is adding an intake under the rear of the engine cowling and a pair of actuators to the undersides of the elevators. You are also invited to fill a small hole under the wings in between the two main gear bays, and flat-back three raised lights under the fuselage as these variants didn’t have the recognition lights fitted. Markings There are a generous seven decal options on the sheet included with the kit, and each one has a page devoted to it with four views and a list of colours using names and Gunze codes. Most of them are painted silver, but with enough variation to appeal to most modellers, but my favourite is the one in blue grey. From the box you can build one of the following: AT-6D-NT Texan 4134617 ‘Bridget SPM Baby’, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Middle Wallop (USAAF Station 449), Great Britain, 1944 SNJ-3C Texan BuNo. 6792, J-9, NAS Glenview, Illinois, Autumn 1942 SNJ-3C Texan BuNo. 6792, 11-1, Marine Aircraft Group 11, Cactus Air Force, Turtle Bay, Espiritu Santo, South Pacific, October 1943 AT-6C 42-3996, 77th Flying Training Wing, Foster Field, Texas, 1943 SNJ-3 Texan BuNo. 6773, Training Squadron Three, Detachment 8-B, NAS Pensacola, Florida, 1942 AT-6C Texan, 41-17249, X-508, Luke Field, Arizona, 1942 AT-6C Texan, 41-17249, X-508, Luke Field, Arizona, 1942 The decals are printed in the Czech Republic, and are in good register, colour density and sharpness, with a thin gloss carrier film over the printed areas. Looking at the carrier film I surmise that they are printed by Eduard, and as of 2021, the carrier film from Eduard decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier-free, making the decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the film. It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and having now tested them on my recent F4F-3 Wildcat, I’m a fan. Conclusion A welcome reboxing of a well-regarded kit with some resin and PE extras to give it some individuality, and a host of interesting decal options that you can remove the carrier film from after application. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Aero L-29 Delfin – Warpaint #134 Guideline Publications The Aero L-29 Delfin started life in early 1950s Czechoslovakia as a trainer requirement for their own forces, but with a view to acquiring additional sales from overseas. They intended to use an indigenous engine, but the development of that went on for an extended period, with smuggled British engines used in the interim due to similar performance characteristics to what was expected from the M701 once its troubles were resolved. In order to widen the market, they sought assistance and allowed input from their Soviet neighbours, eventually competing with a Polish and a Russian design to gain the contract for the standard Soviet trainer, something that wasn’t initially envisaged. Despite some corruption and favouritism by various parties, the Polish TS-11 dropped out and went on to have a successful career elsewhere as a trainer, and the Russian Yak-104 too was side-lined after yet more skulduggery and accusations thereof. This left the field clear for the Delfin, which had been designed from outset accommodate basic weapons carriage that would widen its appeal further, although it did make for a heavier airframe that gave its detractors ammunition during the in-fighting. The type went on to become a successful aircraft thanks to the forward-thinking of its designers, and the ready market amongst the Soviet umbrella and its allies, leading to a total of over 3,600 airframes being made into the early 70s, when it was replaced by another Aero product, the dart-like L-39, which is a firm favourite at airshows wherever it attends. The number of overseas buyers of the type was impressive, with some airframes seeing ownership by two or three countries over the years, thanks to a long service life that was a contributory factor to the aircraft winning the competition in the first place. As late as 2014, break-away areas in Ukraine were seen to be showing off L-29s as part of their nascent air forces, although whether these aircraft were capable of flight was up for debate, as at least one had been in civilian hands beforehand and was probably unable to fly. The Book The book by author Jakub Fojtík Ph.D is in the usual Warpaint format of portrait A4(ish) with a soft card cover but for the time being at least, with higher page counts of recent editions, it utilises a perfect binding instead of the usual pair of staples to accommodate the genuine total of 68 pages plus content printed on the four sides of the glossy covers, including a centre-page spread of plans in 1:72, penned by Petr Kolmann. The initial section details the birth of the type in great detail, with some interesting titbits of information included, then the subsequent pages detail the numerous foreign and domestic operators throughout the rest of the book, alphabetically sorted. Many of the photos are in colour, with some from the many overseas operators such as Iraq and Uganda as well as the usual official sources and historical records that were kept by the developers and manufacturers. The pages include a lot of useful photos with informative captions of aircraft on the apron, on the field, in the air, during trials, and even a few photos of the short-lived reconnaissance variant the L-29R, and the single-seat aerobatic L-29A of which only two were made. The Profiles section shows a range of colours in which the type was painted, including some of the more colourful schemes such as the green and black camouflaged Czechoslovak airframe, and the yellow and black tiger stripe scheme that would make for a fun model that taxes your airbrushing skills. My favourite variant is usually the slightly weird one, but the Delfin wasn’t overly burdened with physical differences, maybe because they got it pretty much right the first time, or perhaps because the aircraft had little potential for alteration to other roles. The main two have already been mentioned, and while the single-seater is fairly visibly different, the L-29R was a subtle variant, some of which were even converted back after the extra weight was found to be burning through the flight hours far too quickly, and fracturing the wing spars. They kept their fairings, probably because it would have cost more to remove them and replace the missing skin for very little benefit. The In Detail section is an interesting look at the aircraft at close range that spans three pages, and has a world map showing where the Delfin got to during its career. While it is heavily biased toward the area around the Soviet Union, it certainly got around. Conclusion The Warpaint series always gets a thumbs-up due to their consistent layout and quality. This is an excellent book that will see plenty of use by anyone interest in, or in building this interesting Soviet era trainer that is also a pleasant-looking aircraft. I built one myself a few years ago, and am tempted by one of the special schemes, if only I didn’t have so many other kits waiting for my attention! Note: You can buy either the traditional physical version of the book by following the link below, or the digital version if you’re more modern and forward thinking, or have limited storage space. Digital reference is starting to grow on me. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Russian Yak-130 "Mitten" (KH80157) 1:48 Kitty Hawk The Mitten (that's a cute name!) is a small 2-seat advanced subsonic trainer that is able to haul around 3,000kg of munitions to perform its ancillary role of light fighter. It began development as a joint project with Italian company Aermacci, but creative differences led to a split after the unveiling of the prototypes in the mid-90s, following which each manufacturer went their own way, even though the majority of the design and airframe work was completed. The Italian version became the M-346 and they agreed to split the market roughly between NATO and independent states that were previously aligned with the Soviets, or had good relations and a track history of purchases. The Yak-130 won the competition to become the new Russian trainer in the early noughties, beating Mikoyan into second place, and securing a small pre-production order to begin with. It is a thoroughly modern trainer, and can mimic the controls of the majority of the current 4th and 4.5 generation aircraft in the Russian inventory, and also has the capability to replicate the controls of the new Su-57, formerly known as the Pak-Fa. This is accomplished by a fly-by-wire system plus a trio of large Multi-Function Displays (MFD) in the cockpit, which can be configured according to their training requirements, involving dogfighting, missile and weapons launch, self-defence and other systems in order to prepare the pilots for their eventual role. A side project to create the Yak-131, a light-attack aircraft was terminated due to insufficient safety of the pilots at low levels, leaving the Mitten as the only fork of the design in Russian service. The Kit This is a brand new tooling from Kitty Hawk of this diminutive trainer, and coincides with the release of the Aermacchi "version" from another vendor, which may or may not be a coincidence, who knows? With it being a small aircraft, it's surprising to see that it arrives in the same sized box as some of the larger aircraft from the KH line, but once you open the box you can see why. It's a box of Russian/Soviet weapons with a free Mitten for good measure! There are seven large sprues in the box, plus one clear sprue, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a container with two resin pilot figures inside, three decal sheets, one of which is tiny, and the instruction booklet with pull-out centre pages on glossy paper for the full-colour painting and decaling guides. Detail is nice, with lots of raised and engraved features, plus use of sliding moulds to give either additional detail, or reduce part count, which alongside the four weapons sprues makes for a well-rounded package. Parts breakdown is interesting, with the top fuselage and blended wings moulded as one part, plus a two-part lower fuselage and wing inserts completing the main airframe. The canopy has been moulded in a split-mould, so that the correct "bubble" of the part is obtained, but it behoves you sand down the seam and polish it back to clarity, which is a common theme of modern jets and their quest for situational awareness. Construction begins with the cockpit, making up the two NPO Zvezda K-36LT3.5 ejection seats, which share a common look with many modern Russian seats, and have separate cushions and PE seatbelts if you aren't using the supplied resin pilot figures, in which case you would leave off the rear seat's belts, as the front seat pilot is depicted climbing aboard. The cockpit tub is built from a stepped floorpan, onto which a combined rudder/control stick assembly is fitted, then the sidewalls are brought in, which hold up the instrument panels, both of which have decals for their MFDs. The rear IP has a coaming added, the rear bulkhead is installed, and the launch rails for both seats are affixed to the resulting bulkheads, with the seats fitting into their slots at this point. As with many smaller modern fighters, the nose gear bay is right under the cockpit floor, being built up from individual panels and glued in place straddling the step, and held in the correct location by a quartet of L-shaped guides. The nose gear leg has a two-part yoke that traps the wheel in place, and can be fitted now or later as you see fit, with a clear landing light attached to the oleo. The completed assembly is then dropped into the lower nose part, which needs a few holes drilling beforehand, after which it is set aside while the upper fuselage is prepared. The upper fuselage and wings are fitted out with an airbrake bay and a pair of inserts inside the root extensions, which once the lower nose and cockpit are installed, these parts will be partially seen under the extensions, so fit them nice and neatly, minimising any gaps, and filling those you can't disguise. The Mitten (I do like that name) is a twin-engined aircraft, and the intake trunks are built up as assemblies that are then installed above the main gear bay in the lower fuselage. You'll need to take a view on how much will be seen here before you go mad with filling seams, but as the tubular section is a single part and has an engine front attached to the end, only the U-shaped initial area will have a seam to fill. The gear bay is central and shared by both wheels, with bulkheads added before it can be slotted into the fuselage along with the APU exhaust on the starboard side. The rear of the engines are fitted to the exhaust trunks, which are split lengthways in half, so may need filling, and these are then attached to their troughs, with fairings added between and around them, leaving just a fraction of the lip exposed. This assembly can then be added to the upper fuselage and you have a fairly complete airframe that just needs lower wing panels, leading edge parts, then the flaps in the deployed position, ailerons, and finally the intake lips installing to complete the wings. The main gear legs have more clear lights added, and two-piece wheels fitted at the end of the cranked oleo, before they are glued along with the retraction mechanism on either side of the centre bulkhead, with doors and their jacks for all the wheels added later. Flipping the model over, the nose cone is affixed along with a forest of antennae and aerials around the front, plus the large HUD for the pilot, which has two clear lenses for added realism. The crew ladder is depicted deployed by default on the model, which is to take advantage of the resin crew figures, one of which is climbing into the front seat with his face masked and ready to go, while the instructor peruses a checklist. They're very nicely sculpted, and give a human dimension to this little aircraft. Two inserts are supplied for the holes in the root extensions, which I would rather have installed earlier in case they fall through into the interior, but there's nothing stopping you from doing this yourself if you wish. The auxiliary intake doors behind the cockpit are depicted closed, which is a bit of a shame from a detail point of view, but I would imagine that Eduard or someone will be all over that very soon now, as they're often seen open, especially in flight. The airbrake bay gets its door and jack, the windscreen is fitted around the now-complete coaming, and the rear canopy is bedecked with a set of PE rear-view mirrors and handle before it is installed in either the open or closed position. As it hinges sideways, you might want to do something to strengthen the bond early on, and a little research should result in a solution. You might also notice that there is a shallow blast shield between the cockpits, so grab a piece of spare acetate sheet and make your own if you're in the mood. The wingtips have pods on adapter rails fitted, with the chaff and flare dispensers moulded into the tops, with two pins holding each pod in the correct location, and a small clear wingtip light visible on the inside of the rail. Your poor little Mitten has lost his tail, or rather it's not been fitted yet, so a nicely slide-moulded fin part fits into a depression in the top of the fuselage, with two pins for good measure, while the elevators are moulded in one part each, with a central(ish) pin around which they rotate. Now for the stores and hard-points, which the Yak has seven of excluding the already occupied wingtip points. Three stations per wing are supplied, with the outermost one having PE shackle-points, and the centreline point has a twin-cannon pod fitted, in case things get down-and-dirty. There is a cornucopia of weaponry on those four sprues, some of which won't be carried in real-world scenarios, but it's surprising just how many it can carry, but with hindsight it has to carry pretty much everything that the frontline aircraft can or it won't be an adequate trainer. Here's a list of what's suggested as candidates for a load-out, but if you want accuracy, check your references for actual configurations. 2 x fuel tanks 2 x KAB-500KR TV-guided bomb 2 x KAB-500L or 500SE laser guided bomb 2 x KH-29T A2S missile with different seeker heads 2 x R-73 Archer short-range A2A missiles with APU-73 adapter rails 2 x R-77 Adder A2A missiles with adapter rail 2 x KH-25-ML or MT A2S missiles with adapter rail 2 x U-4 launch rails 2 x U-6 launch rails 4 x BD-3UMK adapter rails 4 x BD-4UMK adapter rails 2 x KH-58ME Kilter anti-radiation missiles 4 x R-60 Aphid A2A heat-seeking missiles with adapter rails 2 x KAB-1500-L, KR or SE laser guided bomb 2 x KH-31 Krypton supersonic A2S anti-shipping missiles 2 x R-27ER or ET Alamo long-range A2A missiles with APU-470 adapter rails 2 x R-27T Alamo medium-to-long range A2A missiles with APU-470 adapter rails There are also some rocket pods and iron bombs that aren't used, so if you wanted to play "spot the unused bombs" have fun with it! There's a diagram at the end of the instructions that shows which loads can be placed where, but again, if you're going for realism, there's no substitute for checking your references for real-world choices. Markings There are a lot of decals with this kit, and from the box you can build one of seven options. The second large sheet of decals is purely for the weapons, while the other sheet is destined for the airframe and the little sheet contains the MFD decals for the instrument panel and a couple of colourful decals that couldn't be included on the main sheet. The markings guide is stapled in the centre of the booklet, so as usual I have liberated them by unpicking and re-bending the stapes, leaving the last glossy page in situ as its reverse side contains some of the build instructions. Here are your decal options: Kitty Hawk are another of those companies that sometimes don't include any information about the location, unit or time period for their decal options, and this is one of those times. We know that you can make Russian machines in primer, grey, red or green, or a Bangladesh Air Force option, which they have accidentally referred to as "Bulgarian" on the side of the box, and that's your lot. The primer airframe is one of the prototypes, and the colourful ones are aircraft that have been on display, the red one bearing a resemblance to the Russian acrobatic team's red and white scheme. Decals aren't always the strongest part of KH kits, but this one seems to be ok, save for a slight offset on the white, which creates a little "shadow" on some of the decals that it has been used to underprint weaker colours. The instrument decals are really detailed, and could pass for real, but you would need to leave the canopy open to really appreciate them, so give that some thought during the build. The det-cord that shatters the canopy before ejection is supplied as a decal, which there are always divided options about, with two camps that prefer either moulded-in or decals, so there's no pleasing everyone. The carrier film should be easy to hide with some careful application of Klear/Future or similar gloss varnish however, so with a bit of care they can be made to look good. The decals for the weapons are good enough for the task, although my copy has a slight blemish in the black banding for the KH-59 missiles, but as those don't appear to be on the sprues, I'm not even worried. Conclusion Cute as a button, and a nice-looking aircraft that comes with a huge range of stores and some nice schemes. The lack of blow-in aux-intake doors and more information on the decal options are minor downsides on the whole, but who wouldn't want a Yak-130 in their stash (I know, some people won't, but you've got this far)? What's more, if you bought two, you could answer the question "What's in the bag?" from your Significant Other honestly, if a little misleadingly. "Oh, just a pair of mittens, darling". Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of and available soon from major hobby shops
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