Scale 1/72
Manufacturer Platz
Kit ID
Type Lockheed T-33A 57-761
Unit 5041st TAS
Date 1976
Aftermarket parts used None
Other detail added None
Model built by Chris St Clair
Date Completed February 2017

There have been a few kits of the Lockheed T-33 released over the years, with the most easily available ones being Hasegawa (1969) and Heller (1980). Both kits are now over 35 years old (with the Hasegawa kit being even older!). Recently, both Sword (2009) and Platz (2012) have released their own versions, the Sword kit being a typical European "short run" kit.

Unfortunately the Platz kit has never been easily available in the UK, although as it forms the basis for the recently released Tan Model boxing, it is now more widely available, although extremely expensive (in my opinion). As a modeller of all things USAF, I was drawn to the Bicentennial boxing which featured 57-761 from the 5041st TAS during 1976, painted in overall white with blue nose, upper fuselage and canopy, and red stripes.

The kit is quite complex, with areas such as the intakes being separate pieces which slot into recesses in the fuselage. This is a novel approach and works well, although some pressure is needed to ensure the intake lips sit flush.

It is possible that Platz intend to release other variants of the basic airframe (note that the original P/F-80 was developed into the T-33 and then into the F-94, as well as a number of Navy-specific aircraft. At present, some of the various boxings of the kit come with a poseable engine. The fuselage is split into four pieces - left and right halves and fore and aft split at the trailing edge of the wing. This caused me some problems, as I chose to assemble the forward and rear fuselages separately - when I came to join them, I found the rear fuselage to be fractionally wider than the front fuselage and, whilst the actually front-to-rear joint is solid, the difference in size is noticeable.

The cockpit is relatively basic, with just a tub, two single-part seats, instrument panels and sticks. Decals are provided for both side panels and the instrument panels and look good when added. The only drawback is that the canopy is moulded as a single piece with the windshield, and no strut is provided to hold the canopy in the open position should you choose to separate the windshield and cockpit.

Open airbrakes are provided - essential as these were usually open when the aircraft was on the ground.

I painted the kit using Halfords Appliance White and then polished it to smooth out the finish. As there are multiple compound curves around the forward fuselage and wingtip tanks, I did not risk using the decals. Instead I photocopied the decal sheet and used it as a template to mask off the blue areas, which were then sprayed using Model Master Blue Angels Blue. I used AK Interactive 'Intermediate Gauzy Agent' as a clear coat, brushed on in several coats, and this provided a nice smooth surface for the decals.

These are printed by Platz and appear slightly thick, although they settled down well with appropriate setting solutions (I used a mixture of Mr Hobby and Daco as required), Another coat of 'Intermediate Gauzy Agent' was used as a final top coat.

Platz also provide decals for the windshield and canopy and I used these straight over the kit part. Whilst they settle down, the white base coat of the decals was visible once the canopy was test fitted and I hand painted grey to cover this. With hindsight, I would have masked and sprayed the canopy at the same time as the fuselage to avoid this problem, and also to end up with a consistent finish as the kit decals are a slightly different shade of blue!

Undercarriage, doors and airbrakes were superglued in place to complete the kit.

All in all, I was pleased with this build. It took a lot longer than anticipated, but looked good when complete.

Whilst slightly complex, I would highly recommend the Platz kit (I ordered mine from Japan via an online web store and it ended up under £20 shipped - significantly cheaper than eBay!

Model and images by Chris St Clair