Build Report: 1/48 Hobbycraft T-33

Charles King submitted this great build report detailing a very uniquely displayed T-33. And he did it affordably, too!

dscf2605The Kit
Like many Hobbycraft/Academy kits, the T-33 is a finely engraved, flash free kit with very spare interior detail. This doesn’t bother me as their kit prices are relatively low and it allows the builder to choose how detailed he wants to get. Overall the fit is above average and Hobbycraft even included the correct wing tip fuel tanks used on the Korean War T-33’s based on Japan (Misawa type 265 gallon wing tanks).

The Build
Knowing that the kit pit was bare, I began the build with the True Details resin cockpit. This is very nice and can be had for round nine bucks. It is definitely a huge improvement over the kit’s offering. Using the excellent work or Mr. C. Wayne Sharp for reference, I detailed the cockpit.

The build was straightforward and fit very nice. In fact it went along so smoothly that I forgot to add the nose weight! Doh! Not wanting to break open what I had sealed, I decided to model her wheels-up. At this point I needed a pilot and radio man! Fortunately I found the Tamiya F-84G pilot and Kinetic F-84F pilots hanging around the mess hall. They were both age appropriate, but I was concerned if they had logged any flight time in a T-Bird. Silly me…that’s what they trained in! On a side note, the two pilots were very similar in detail, with the Tamiya figure being crisper in detail.

The rest was pretty uneventful. Everything fits together nicely with minimal putty needed.

Kit: Hobbycraft 1/48 T-33
Kit Number: 1548
Price: OOP
Decals: Kit Decals; Markings for 2 aircraft of Korean War vintage
Reviewer: Charles King
Notes: Fun, simple kit

Painting
2008 was the year of Natural Metal Finish for me. I must have built 4 or 5 “naked” planes, and I think I’ve found a formula that works for me (to each his own, right?) using the Alclad II product. I use either Tamiya or Gunze gloss black on the exterior parts that will eventually become “metal”. After that dries, I try to spray 2-3 light coats of Future, stopping when I’m sure I’ve gotten everything sealed in, smooth and glossy. One rule here is that you have to let it cure for AT LEAST 48 hours. Did I mention that was the MINIMUM? Aclad is a “hot lacquer product and if your base is not completely cured, a reaction will occur, resulting in the cracking of your metal finish.

Finally, I sprayed several different shades of Alcald, allowing ample drying time between each color. For a base I went with Chrome, which is very similar to Polished Aluminum. I used Aluminum, Polished Aluminum and Magnesium for random panel shading.

Some people like to use a panel wash and I admit I usually do, but not on NMF’s. This is just pure modeler’s preference.

I opted to spray on the yellow ID band, which was a pretty simple decision seeing as the kit did not provide one. Truth be told, it’s a little non-symmetrical in places, but that’s why I hire an expensive camera-man. Having stressed the importance of letting your paint cure, I am embarrassed to report that I did not follow my own rule for the yellow ID band. Using acrylics for this I assumed it wouldn’t matter, but I used Tamiya flat white as a base coat with no issues. Letting this dry for 30 minutes I then sprayed Model Masters Acryl, thinned with Model Master Acryl thinner for the Insignia Yellow. As it dried, it cracked something awful, requiring a day or two of careful sanding and re-spraying.

Decals
Unable to find any Korean War T-33 aftermarket decals, I reluctantly went with the kit decals. While not as unusable as Academy decals (which must be bulletproof), the Hobbycraft decals are thicker than model modelers would like. Decals on any NMF are tricky as they are very hard to hide edges or flaws. The kit decals were acceptable, albeit a little thick and did not conform too well to the panel lines, even with Micro Sol.

Final Assembly
The smaller pieces and peripheral parts like landing gear, bombs, wing tanks, etc. were added last. No issues with any of these. I also painted the landing lights, nose guns and other areas that needed some more attention.

Construction the Base
Up until this build, all of my aircraft have been built “gear down” which allows them to be displayed next to each other for a nice comparison of size. This build started out with the same intention, but a freshman error caused me to try something new: an in-flight display. I have always admired in-flight displays because aircraft are meant to fly. “In flight” is their natural position, if you will. But I’ve always lacked the courage to display my models that way because I thought it was difficult and expensive. Wrong on both counts.

The materials for this are a $0.99 center craft center wood base, Tamiya Semi-Gloss Black (X-18), and a rod. I wanted clear acrylic rod, as I’ve seen these in many-a-display, but simply could not find clear rod any where. So I opted for a piece of wire sturdy enough to hold the model but easy enough to make nice, curved bends, which I found in the garage. The wire by itself made it look like I couldn’t find clear acrylic rod, so I had to spruce it up and went with another idea I’ve seen before: cotton balls or stuffing, pulled apart to look like “smoke”. This both hides the rod (taking your mind off the acrylic rod) and gives it more motion.I have yet to break it to my kids, but Stripey the zebra kindly donated some of his stuffing for this build. I had fun playing surgeon with my hobby knife carefully cutting a small seam in his mid-section….but this is a completely different story we’ll leave for another day.

Finally, by positioning the plane in a tilted or turned manner, you can replicate more of the “in flight” pose and less of the “plastic airplane on a stick” look. Using white glue to adhere Stripey’s guts the cotton stuffing to the wire, I’m fairly pleased with the look of my first in flight model.

All of this for $0.99, since the other materials were found around the house. No I’m not “going green”. I’m simply cheap.

If I can do it, so can you.

Conclusions
I am fascinated by the Korean War era planes and early jets and found the only game in town in 1/48. The difficulties and errors were caused by my lack of cranial activity. The lack of detail can be easily overcome with a resin cockpit and True Details makes a nice one. Not surprisingly, this was another simple, fun kit from Hobbycraft/Academy. Now if only they’d come out with a recessed panel line P-80!!

Hats-off to Hobbycraft and Academy. I’ve built several kits of their of have had the same pleasant experience.

About Charles King
I currently reside in northern Kentucky, in the outskirts of Cincinnati, with my beautiful wife and three wonderful sons. My model interest began when I was a young boy building cars, usually classic muscle cars. That was the tube-glue era and I think every one of my builds had a finger print or two burnt into the finish, but it was my “Golden Age” and modeling was fun. I got back into the hobby after a 20 year or so hiatus.

Outside of plastic airplanes, I enjoy playing and watching hockey, traveling the world and reading books (both novels and non-fiction). However, being a father and husband trumps all of my hobbies and is the best blessing I could ever ask for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *