Czech Model 1/32 Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star
By Thierry Laurent
- TYPE: Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star
- SCALE: 1/32
- COMPANY: Czech Model – re-released by Special Hobby
- KIT NUMBER: 3203 (SH32050)
- MOLD CREATION DATE: 2009
KIT DATABASE ENTRY:
TWEAK LIST VERSION 1.1 (publication date: November 2016)
The following list is intended to help modelers in improving scale accuracy of an airplane model replica. In no way is it intended to support or be offensive towards a scale model company. It is up to the modeler to decide whether correcting the listed issues is worth the time and money he will have to invest in the quest for accuracy process.
No aftermarket correction or detail set is mentioned in this document as the availability of such items may be very variable. Hence, refer to other LSP sections to find relevant information. Moreover, aftermarket sets do not necessarily correct all listed issues. Please refer accordingly to relevant documentation.
- The kit is a short-run production release. It is mainly made of 8 light gray styrene and one clear part trees. There is also a photo-etched fret for the cockpit instrument panels, data plates and sidewall document holders. Last, 28 resin parts detail the cockpit, give most of the external vents and a choice of wheels.
- The original release had US, Luftwaffe and Belgian markings. This kit was re-released by Special Hobby as kit 32050 Lockheed T-33A "Over Europe". The plastic and resin contents were identical. Different US, German, French and Dutch markings were included and it also had a small additional photo-etched fret with the training curtain hood bow.
- Fit is a reasonably good in spite of the fact most parts do not have location pins. However, there are some noticeable exceptions such as the air intakes fairings. Shapes & dimensions are globally correct and the details are generally accurate even if simplified here and there.
- The kit has a reasonable amount of engraved rivets and screw heads. Panel lines are generally correct.
- The kit surface is flat and there are multiple small blemishes here and there. Be prepared for some sanding/polishing work if you want to reproduce a natural metal finish plane.
- Some inaccuracies or assembly complications are linked to the fact the initial F-80 mold was used as the basis of this T-33 kit.
NOTICEABLE FUSELAGE ISSUES (from front to rear)
- There is no feature on the fuselage bottom between the air intakes. There should be a round panel on the port side and an oblong one on the starboard side. Moreover, even if most T-birds had no weapon, do not forget to open up the empty casing chutes (aft of the nose gear).
- T-33 kits have commonly problems of air intake fairing fit. The large scale does not help here as the fit of the front part D6/D8 is simply terrible. Slowly removing plastic from the rear side will noticeably improve the fit but be prepared for a lengthy job. However, this will result in a nearly correct positioning of the parts without hours of sanding and tons of putty or CA glue.
- The tabs on the intake splitters parts EB9 should be removed to avoid getting an inaccurate a step in the inboard inlet surface. Note as well this splitter vane part is not accurate as the shape of the air channeling guides is straight whereas the upper and lower ones should be rounded. This is not the most visible detail but improving this is recommended. Last, the small oblong rectangular intake is missing on the port central splitter vane and the external side of the part shall have a small round maintenance hatch.
- The Fairchild N6 gun camera fairing is missing on the internal edge of the starboard air intake D8. This should be scratch-built with a sanded rod section or some epoxy putty.
- The intake trunking re-uses the inlet parts from the F-80 kit. This results in the need to add an insert for each inlet because of the longer T-bird fuselage. Rather than building the intakes on one side and the rear trunking on the other one, glue first D9/D10 to C13/C14 to clean correctly the seams between these parts. Then add the part C12. Cutting the part C12 in two helps in mating precisely the different inlet sub-assemblies as there will be fewer tensions between the sides. This also allows a full inlet assembly per fuselage half. Take care while removing the multiple injection marks on the parts.
- The kit has no engine face behind the air intake channels. However, the Allison J33-A-35 centrifugal engine only showed a mass of tube and hoses on its front face. This is not very visible but if you do not want to leave this open, you may use a trick: do a scaled color copy of a front view of the engine, glue it on a small sheet of plastic and add it on the end of the intake part. This should look the part.
- The kit has some nicely molded resin exhaust vents/intakes. Sanding the rear side will improve the look as the vents may be fully opened as the real ones. Unfortunately, only the four most obvious ones are provided in the kit. Other similar bleed air exit vents are represented by very light scribing on the aft fuselage and the one under the port intake is only a scribed square. This asks for a little bit of time to update the look of such vents.
- The belly air brakes are globally correct but many small hydraulic part details are missing in the wells that should be fully opened, without the roof molded on the kit.
- The kit has one nicely molded reinforcement plate on the top of each fuselage side. Check closely if the topic you choose had it as it was not systematically added.
- Various small details (light, drain holes, air intake and vent, JATO hooks, electrical connector, etc.) are missing on the belly, behind the wing trailing edge. They are easy to identify on the belly as their location is engraved. However, something looks weird with regard to their location and the distance between them. This is possibly linked to the fact the curved panel line at the level of the junction between the wing trailing edge junction and the belly is incorrectly shaped.
- T-33s had a red beacon light on the top and the bottom of the rear fuselage. The two locations are engraved on the kit but only the top light is given (part F5). So, copy the part out of a section of the clear sprue to add it on the belly.
- A long fuel drain pipe is missing on the rear fuselage under the port elevator.
- Some filling and sanding work will be required to mate correctly the horizontal tail pieces with the fuselage as there are some gaps on the top and bottom of the joint.
- The radius of the rear edge of the tail tip rear is incorrect as the kit part has more or less symmetrical front and rear edges. Actually, the rear slope should be softer than the front one.
- Sand the trailing edge of the tip and rudder to get a more realistic replica. Then, add the missing trim tab on the rudder trailing edge. The rudder shows again that the kit has been made from the F-80 one. Indeed, both models have the same rudder chord. Actually, the full-scale T-bird rudder had a slightly wider chord. This is not really noticeable but if one wants correcting this, the easiest way to solve this is to move the rudder hinge line a little bit less than two millimeters to the front of the fin. However, there is a better way – even if time-consuming - to correct the rudder without losing the fine screw details close to the edge. Here's the process:
- Remove cautiously the rudder with a thin saw blade.
- Remove a little bit less than two millimeters of the fin trailing edge.
- Cut in two parts the rudder behind the screw line and add a 1.8mm strip between the two sections.
- Correct the length of the upper hinge section (remove 1.8mm).
- Sand the rudder trailing edge.
- The kit exhaust tailpipe C5/C6 does not protrude out from the end of the fuselage as it should. It is not easy to move aft the kit part even if the part is modified to avoid relying on the provided assembly slots. Sanding heavily the part and the internal sides of both fuselage ends is required to avoid problems to close the rear fuselage end. Last, the exhaust tube does not show the engine burner. However, this is not very visible. Nonetheless, one easy way to close the end is to use one half of the main landing gear wheel (E2) to simulate roughly the burner parts. Another option is the use of an aftermarket exhaust.
- The upper light on the fuselage end (upper one of part F6, between the rudder and exhaust ends) was often orange rather than clear.
NOTICEABLE WINGS/WEAPONS ISSUES
- The kit upper wing edges are nearly straight lines whereas the seam between the full-scale ones and the fuselage shows a distinct curve from the leading edge up to the flap. This error is difficult to solve. The best solution probably asks for making a template out of steel can sheet to scribe the correct panel line after having fully sanded the kit seam. This correction is particularly important if the chosen T-bird schemes had a large black walkway strip painted over the wing because its edge followed the curvature of the wing root seam.
- Another element that is missing on the kit is the small hatch located on each wing, close to the center of the wing root seam.
- The flaps are not separate. This is annoying as the T-33 was commonly seen parked with the air brakes fully open and extended flaps. Modifying this asks for aftermarket help or some hours of scratch-building work.
- The seam between the lower fuselage and rear wing end may have a very bad fit if care is not taken to solve the tail pipe issue already mentioned. Indeed, if the correction results in a small change in fuselage cross-section, some heavy sanding will be required to remove the steps between both sub-assemblies.
- The tip tanks may be easily assembled if the alignment pins are removed. It is recommended to add the D5/D6 reinforcement parts as otherwise the assembly lacks rigidity. Adding the tanks over the wingtips may ask for some sanding but the seam is rather good. The recessed details on the external side of the wing tank shall actually be protruding out of the surface. Many other small protruding details are missing (mainly a strip at the seam with the wing and the root of the winglet and various bolts here and there). Note even if there were variants, all tank section lines are not accurate. Some of them should be replaced by welds. Pictures of some planes also showed that the rear of the tank had sometimes a trapeze-shaped removable panel on the top, close to the winglet.
NOTICEABLE COCKPIT ISSUES
- The cockpit is a very nice combination of plastic, resin and photo-etched parts. However, some elements are missing or not fully accurate.
- The foot wells are missing under both instrument panels.
- Some access panels are missing on the lower sides of each cockpit station. They may be added with very thin plastic card. Some hoses and conduits are missing on the floor and rear bulkhead and there are various small details missing on the cockpit bulkheads, on each side close to the seat ejection rails. The cockpit has the oxygen regulators on the pit port side (close to the floor) but the tubes are missing. Last, add the missing relief tube between the port side of each seat and the tub.
- The kit has very nice resin seats but they are not fully accurate. One example is the notch cut in the cushion front edge. Pictures show that the Lockheed seat cushion normally does not have such a notch.
- Moreover, seats shall also be noticeably taller (more or less 3mm).
- Last, the footsteps should not be simply added to the front of the seat. The full-scale ones have folding supports that are linked to the lower edge of each side of the seat.
- The control sticks EA16 are too simplified. The typical knobs and switches are missing.
- There should be a tube with small holes intended to de-ice the glass surface over the front IP hood, right under the windscreen.
- The kit has no cockpit sills. Add a thick strip on the edge of the fuselage to reproduce them. The height is more or less 2.5 mm whereas the width is probably a little bit less than 2mm where it is the narrowest (close to the windshield) and nearly 3mm where it is the largest. Four oblong holes shall be drilled in the sills where the canopy locks enter to secure the canopy.
- Take care about the correct position of the aft instrument panel EA22 in relation to the back of the forward seat ejection rails main part (EA18) in the floor slots. By default, the canopy opening actuator EA19 needs does not fit correctly between the two if you do not add a little bit of space between them. Last, the rear of the aft IP was often protected by a fabric cover. If you do not add it, the rear instrument will require some additional details.
- The rounded rear decking of the kit must be cut (in front of the canopy hinge) and replaced by a straight and flat section.
- Sanding the front and rear external edges of the tub floor EA13 will help in locating it correctly over the front and main landing gear wells. The side edges of EA17 will need the same treatment to avoid interfering with the engine intake channels (part C12).
NOTICEABLE CANOPY ISSUES
- The canopy structure is missing as only the bridge supporting the opening rod is included. Scratch-build this framing with the locking hooks, knifes, hand lamps and other details or use an aftermarket part.
- The canopy rear end is narrower than the fairing on the fuselage. This creates tension in the canopy part when you put the canopy tabs over the fairing to glue it. Sand cautiously the fairing sides to ease the positioning of the canopy and avoid breaking it.
NOTICEABLE LANDING GEAR ISSUES
- The instructions wrongly ask for installing the nose gear strut E10 at step 23 whereas it not possible anymore after the earlier assembly of the wheel well (step 8). There are four solutions but no perfect one:
- The most obvious solution is to add the leg at step 8 but this means the fragile leg will have to be protected during all the remaining construction steps.
- The second option is similar but the leg is installed but without glue to be folded in the well up to the end of the kit assembly and painting process. However, gluing it cleanly at the end when everything will be painted is not easy.
- Another option asks for opening the lowest edge of the slots in which the gear strut trunion ends are secured in C9/C10. However, this solution asks for closing them and touching-up the paint after the leg assembly.
- The last option is asking for cutting the leg in two parts where the oleo section goes out of the leg structure. A hole would be drilled in the upper section of E10 that would be added with D12 & F3 parts when the front well is assembled. The cut oleo section may be replaced with a strong steel tube or rod and added with the lower section after final assembly and painting processes. This also offers the advantage to strengthen a quite fragile part.
- Lastly, various details should be added on the leg and the scissor part should be corrected.
- Check correctly the edges of the main landing gear wells as some kits have flash or plastic residue asking to be removed.
- The main landing gear bays are correct but all pipes and hoses are missing. Either use an aftermarket set or use walkaround pictures to add all the missing details. Last, the main gear legs should be detailed (this includes the scissor parts).
OTHER NOTICEABLE ISSUES & MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS
- The kit has no weight in the nose. Even if you use a resin cockpit, do not forget adding a little bit of ballast to avoid the tail-sitter syndrome.
- The kit has no separate control surface (aileron, rudder, elevators or flaps). All of them are in the neutral position.
- The kit depicts reasonably well a US airframe. However, with almost 5700 produced T-birds and a service life of more than forty years, it is impossible to cover all possible variations. Some production batches (such as the RCAF Canadair–buit CT-133) had very distinct features. Hence, check closely the plane you want to replicate. Here is a non-exhaustive list of possible options to take care of:
- Different vents on the nose, belly and upper fuselage.
- Different nose antennas.
- The kit has NACA vents on the gun access panels whereas many T-birds did not have them.
- The kit does not have the commonly seen steel strip on the inboard leading edge of both wings. So, if required, add them on both wings with plastic strip.
- Some training aircraft used an interior canopy bow to attach a blind flying hood. At least two different types were used.
- Some planes had an antenna on the inner side of the rear canopy section.
- Early planes had just bucket seats and various generations of Lockheed ejection seats were progressively used. Some exported planes got other ejection seats such as the Late Luftwaffe T-birds that were refitted with MB GU5.
- Some front seats (such as the ones used on late USAF ANG T-birds) had canopy breakers added on the front of the headset sides.
- The radio and navigation equipment evolved noticeably. Moreover, there was no standard location to add new instruments on existing planes. So check as much as possible the features of the plane you want to replicate (or at least one from the same era).
- The kit offers two options of front and main landing gear wheels. However, there were other types used. For instance, late US ANG planes commonly used another type of main wheel rim. Similarly, a flat rim was used on the front wheel.
- The kit has the early pitot nose configuration (a single L-shaped tube under the nose). However, later planes (batches 5, 10, 15 and retrofitted planes) had two pitot tubes on the fuselage sides aft of the gun access panels.
- The kit has the standard canopy whereas the very early T-birds had canopies with a strengthening arch.
- The kit has no wing pylon and consequently no load such as the AN/ALE2 chaff dispenser pod, AL/ALQ-71 ECM pod, AIM-9 captive missile, camera pod, target winch pod or other external systems commonly used on such training planes.
- Many T-birds had JATO hooks under the belly, aft of the wing trailing edge. They were generally used to carry a travel/radar reflector pod. Note there were at least three different types of travel pod. For people willing to scratch-build the common suitcase-shaped travel pod, the 1/32 dimensions are 49mm (L), 17.5 mm (W) and 9.5mm (H).
The following sources were used to build this list.
- Ooshi, Naoaki, Kawasaki T4 of JASDf and T-33A, T-1A/B, Model Art Profile 10, N°829, 2011.
- Ovcacik, Michal, Susa, Karel, Lockheed T-33 Thunderbird Colors & Markings, Mark I Ltd dozen set, 4+ publications, 2010.
Scale Plans and TM Extracts:
- N.A., F-80/T-33 Shooting Star, Famous Airplanes of the World, n°84, Koku fan, 2000.
- Balch, Adrian, Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, Warpaint Series, n°88, Aviation News, Warpaint books, no date.
- Lockheed T-33/TV-2 Seastar Flight manual and service bulletins.
Colour Pictures & Photo Files:
- Mc Laren, David R., Lockheed T-33 - A Photo Chronicle, Schiffer, 1998.
- O’Leary, Michael, Shooting Stars – Lockheed Legendary T-bird, Osprey Publishing, 1988.
- Doyle, Larry, P/F-80 Shooting Star in Action, N°213, Color Series, Squadron Signal Publications, 2008.
- Lang,G. Wache, A., Lockheed T-33A, F-40 - Flugzeuge der Bundeswehr N°4, AGL, 1986.
- Rhodes, Arnold, Shooting Star, T-bird & Starfire – A famous Lockheed Family, Aztex Corporation, 1981.
- Air Fan, Replic & Tamiya Magazine.
- Various walkarounds on Internet sites.
© Thierry Laurent 2016
This article was published on Friday, December 02 2016; Last modified on Sunday, December 04 2016