The Trojan grew out of the need to replace the venerable AT-6 Texan with a trainer more sorted to the dawn of the jet age. North American's new design introduced a tricycle undercarriage and a more powerful engine and entered service with the USAF as the T-28A. In the event, even the extra power proved insufficient and it was almost doubled in subsequent versions which served with both the USAF and US Navy, as well as with a number of air forces around the world.
Despite its origins as a trainer, the Trojan saw considerable action as a COIN aircraft, with many early airframes re-manufactured for the ground attack role. The Trojan enjoyed a long career that stretched from the early 1950s right through to the '90s, and many of the nearly 2,000 aircraft built continue to fly in private hands on the warbird circuit.
Kitty Hawk's new Trojan arrives in a very attractive top-opening box. It's deep and sturdy, and all the sprues are bagged separately, with the clear parts packed inside a small box of their own for extra protection. That should certainly protect everything well in transit but, ironically, the sample kit shows a small breakage in the delicate area around the wheel well on one fuselage half (see the photo at right). I'm presuming this must have happened at the packing stage, so it's something to watch out for if you do get the chance to examine the contents in your LHS before purchasing the kit. That aside, everything else arrived totally intact, and the sight of five main sprues brimming with highly detailed parts definitely have that "Wow!" factor when you open the box. The kit comprises:
337 x grey styrene parts
14 x clear styrene parts
46 x etched brass parts
2 x cast metal weights
Decals for 7 x colour schemes
The overall moulding finish is beautiful, with delicately scribed panel lines and embossed rivets (strictly speaking, a lot of them should be raised), and some really fine detail on the smaller parts. A multi-part mould is used on the fuselage, so there's inevitably a faint line to polish away - a small price to pay for the crisp detail around the contours. There's a whisper of flash here and there - slightly surprising on a brand-new release, but nothing that will take more than a minute or two to clean up. What will take longer, though, is the ejection-pin marks. Yes, this is a Kitty Hawk kit, so they're hardly unexpected - and they're here in droves.
To be fair, the designers have done a much better job in keeping them out of sight than in, for instance, the earlier Bronco, so the cockpit and wheel wells look like they'll need a lot less pre-prep, but many of the pins are the "projecting lug" variety that you will need to shave off to stop them interfering with the fit of parts.
The only slight sink marks I've found are on the underwing pylons, which are quite thick and moulded solid. Perhaps next time Kitty Hawk will consider moulding them in halves to overcome this.
I've dry-fitted the fuselage, wings and tail and after a little preparation they go together beautifully. The sprue attachments are on the glueing surfaces, so you need to remove them carefully, but this is to preserve the excellent surface finish. The wings are designed as separate panels with the locating tabs setting the dihedral solidly, and the fit is so good, you shouldn't need any filler. Similarly the stabilisers, which slot into deep recesses that ensure everything sits square and true.
All the control surfaces are separate, and the rear fuselage features a separate section to allow for the T-28 with an arrestor-hook in a later release. This slots in place very precisely, but you'll still need to hide the seam and it lacks an access panel evident in photos and the boxtop artwork.
A Few Details
Construction begins with the cockpit, which is made up of 51 parts, plus a set of etched seat harnesses. The instrument panels and side consoles are very crisply moulded, and Kitty Hawk provide decals to add. However, it'll be a real struggle to get the decals to sit on the consoles, so I wouldn't bother with them. Those for the instrument panels stand a better chance of success, but I'll probably use a punch and die to apply the faces individually in the moulded bezels before "glazing" them with a drop of varnish.
The front panel has a small auxiliary group of instruments mounted on the coaming (not evident in most period shots I've checked of the full-sized Trojan), but what it clearly lacks is the gunsight that was fitted on the armed versions.
The etched harnesses are quite complex multi-part affairs with separate buckles. No doubt we can expect to see pre-coloured aftermarket sets hot on the heels of this release, but it's good to see a manufacturer include a harness as standard.
The rudder pedals correctly attach to the side consoles, but they lack the manufacturer's logo and non-slip grip that's evident in photos of the full-sized Trojan. There may be a trademark issue responsible for omitting the logo but, again, I can imagine we'll see aftermarket alternatives before long.
Assembly then turns to the nosewheel which features a neatly moulded gear leg and a nice deep well constructed from separate sides and roof to ensure detail all 'round. Kitty Hawk offer a choice of three styles if nosewheel - the only problem being that they don't indicate which to use (see below for a breakdown of the variants). I'll be tempted to leave out the gear leg until after I've assembled the main airframe.
The engine comes with a nicely detailed accessories area behind it. You're looking at around 30 parts altogether, and there are etched grills for the intakes. The exhausts are hollowed out a little, and there's a moulded wiring harness and ring of push-rods. The engine has quite fine cooling fins and is split into front and rear halves, and you'll need to clean off the many ejector pin lugs before joining them. The engine has baffles between the cylinders, which matches most photos I've found, although the kit's are plain whereas there is some detail evident on the real thing.
Like the nosewheel, the mainwheel wells are built up from separate sides and roofs and should provide a good basis superdetailing with some pipework and cables. These slot into the fuselage halves before closing everything up around the cockpit, nosewheel and engine sub-assemblies - not forgetting the two hefty moulded metal weights to prevent the kit being a tail-sitter.
The instructions would have you attach the nicely inner detailed gear doors and optionally open engine cowls (the framing inside the engine covers is particularly neat) before completing the rest of the airframe, but it's just asking for an accident to add them so early, so I would move swiftly on to the wings and tail before returning to such easily damaged items.
As noted above, the wings fit superbly. Again, they have a multi-part section of the wheel well to fit inside - and, once again, Kitty Hawk offer a choice of wheels without any information about their usage. All the wheels are moulded un-weighted, so I'll file slight "flats" to give a sense of the bulk of the aircraft, especially if loaded up with underwing stores.
Two styles of propeller are included - narrow- and paddle-bladed - although only the former is shown in the assembly sequence (strangely, decals are provided for both). The narrow blades pretty match photos of what I assume is the "standard" type for T-28B and 'D, although I'll round-off the tips more symmetrically than as moulded. However, there is also a square-tipped type seen in some reference photos. The paddle-bladed prop is found on many (but not all) T-28Cs.
The cockpit canopy is a real beauty - absolutely crystal clear and free of distortion. Looking at photos of the full-sized Trojan, you'll often see canopies with clear green tinted sections and fittings for blind-flying hoods. Some airframes sport armoured headrests, while some were even fitted with ejection seats so, as ever, try to gather as many references as you can for the individual machine you're building.
Stores & More...
Kitty Hawk's Trojan is provided with a comprehensive load of ordnance for its size, with two styles of gun-pods, rocket tubes, napalm, plus standard and fragmentation bombs. Although the instructions give a load-out chart, they don't state which pylons and weapons are appropriate for which version and nationality.
Furthermore, holes for three pylons and a gun-pod under each wing are moulded open, which is a real pain if you don't want to fit them - and also because the number of pylons varied between versions. The Thai Aviation History
site has a comprehensive set of reference files for the T-28 in it's various versions in service around the world, which include a handy guide to the variants covered in the kit:
Armed T-28Bís were used in SE Asia with two ordnance pylons, plus one large gun pod, under each wing.
T-28D ex USAF T-28A converted for COIN role from 1962, with 1,425hp Wright R-1820 engine. Two ordnance pylons, and one large gun pod, under each wing (no internal ammunition storage in the wings).
T-28D-5 as T-28D converted from 1965. Wing strengthening mod incorporated. Internal ammunition storage in the wings, therefore smaller, faired gun pods. Three ordnance pylons under each wing.
T-28D-10 as T-28D-5 but converted from ex USN T-28B. Speed brake removed.
So, looking at the differences between the versions, Kitty Hawk have been ambitious in combining the T-28B and 'D in one boxing. In fact, I'm tempted to say overambitious, because the decision leaves the modeller with some work to do, whichever version they opt for:
Basically, the simplest option is to build the kit as a T-28B, using the spoked wheels (parts F7, F8, F27 and F29). Most photos of T-28Bs show the aircraft without any underwing pylons, but if you decide to install them, it only carried two, so you'll need to do some work filling the mounting holes for the two outer pylons under each wing and restoring the surface detail. If you want gun-pods, use the large style mounted on pylons.
For a T-28D, use the nosewheel with the fatter tyre (parts F17 and F18), along with the alternative mainwheel hubs (parts F19 and F20). From that point on things get more complicated, because you'll need to fair-in the air-brake. For an early 'D, treat the wings as for the T-28B, but for a 'D-5 and D-10 also scribe ammunition bays on the wings for the smaller flush-mounted gun-pods.
And for a true Fennec? You'll need to do the same as for the T-28D, but go further still, adding an air scoop in front of the windscreen and - probably the killer for most people - replace the canopy with the taller type fitted to the T-28A and a roll-bar between the cockpits. The cockpits were also refitted to French standards, so there'll be further changes to pin down.
Instructions and Decals
The assembly and painting guide is printed as a 28-page booklet with fold-out sections at the front, centre and back. Construction is broken down into 34 stages, and looks quite straightforward considering the high number of parts the kit contains. Experienced modellers will most likely ignore much of the suggested sequence to construct the basic airframe before adding smaller details to make painting simpler and avoid damaging delicate parts. Colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are given, along with FS numbers where appropriate.
Kitty Hawk provide decals for no less than 7 colour schemes, but the odd thing is that a number of them are warbirds, whereas I'm sure the vast majority of modellers would prefer to depict their chosen aircraft in service. Mixing in warbids masquerading as different aircraft and versions makes for something of a minefield, so be prepared for a little detective work:
1. T-28B, VH-ZUC 91576TL (CN 174-429) "Just Dreamin" (actually a T-28D warbird)
2. Thailand AF, Tanga Squadron
3. T-28D, French Air Force Fennec No. 142 (warbird F-AZFV)
4. T-28D "Zorro's Mistress" (warbird NX766NA, 513766AH)
5. T-28D, 15th Strike Squadron, Philippines Air Force, 1975
6. T-28B Japanese Air Self Defence Force, 1965
7. T-28B, s/n 138294, VT-6 (warbird N5540F)
The decals are supplied on two sheets and are nicely printed. The smaller sheet is printed as very fine dots - fair enough to capture the shading on the "pin-up" artwork, but it gives a slightly murky look to the yellow used on some of the items.
I've got to say the colours of some of the national insignia look a bit off (the red in the US and Japanese markings is very bright, while the French blue is dark) - but, for the warbirds it may be correct for the restored schemes - you see what I mean about a minefield!
Kitty Hawk's new Trojan is a really impressive kit - beautifully moulded and packed with detail. It's pretty complex, but looks quite a straightforward build that cries out to you to get stuck straight in. However, straight from the box it's something of a hybrid, as trying to cover both the T-28B and 'D in one kit means extra work, whichever version you opt to build.
Naval Fighters Number Five - North American T-28 Trojan, by Steve Ginter, 1981
Various on-line sources - primarily Thai Aviation History
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