1:72 T-33 Shooting Star from Platz Hobby

1:72 T-33 Shooting Star
Platz Hobby
Catalogue # AC-6
Available from Platz Hobby for ¥2,310

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The T-33 Shooting Star was a trainer based version of the Lockheed-built F-80, also named 'Shooting Star'. The name 'T-Bird' was one that was given to the T-33 machine, by its pilots and ground crew. With an original TF-80 designation, the first machine flew in 1948, and the type remained in service until it began to be phased out in the early 1960's despite several developmental curves of this machine being used in a carrier role and as the basis for the ill-fated Boeing Skyfox trainer aircraft. Having seen action during the 'Bay of Pigs; invasion, and seeing service with more than 30 countries, including Japan, the last Shooting Stars finally left active service in the late 1990's with the Paraguayan Air Force. A number of Canadair-built machines, designated CT-133 Silver Star, still operate to this day with the Bolivian Air Force.

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It is because this type operated with the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) that Platz, a Japanese company, have seen fit to release a new-tooled kit of this aircraft in 1:72. Yes, this is a completely new tooled kit! Recently, Platz had been concentrating on producing a range of 1:144 kits which we have had the good fortune to review here at SP&R. These kits really raised the bar for this scale in relation to quality and detail. Take a look at the reviews of the P-47D Thunderbolt, A-4F Skyhawk and UH-60J kits.

The T-33 Shooting Star comes in an attractive top opening box with a colourful artwork of the JSDAF machine in flight. Inside, with exception to the clear sprue, the four sprues of light grey plastic are packaged into a single bag. Despite this bone of contention with me, there is no breakage or scuffing to be seen anywhere.

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First inspection of the sprues show that moulding quality is excellent, and surface/panel line representation is superb, with crisply refined panel lines and access panels. Riveting is minimal, which is good, and overall, there are no real issues with flash or sink marks. Seams are also negligible, and certainly no worse than other newly tooled kits I've reviewed recently. Ejector pin marks, while present, don't tend to interfere with the viewable areas of the model, with the only exceptions being the occasional one in between the interior stringers which moulded into the separate fuselage/tail sections.

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The cockpit is actually very well 'done' for 1:72 with some above average instrument panels and consoles. If you don't wish to paint these, then decals are provided for you to fit over these. The decals for these are well worth using too. Platz have actually released a detail set for this, produced by Eduard, and we'll be publishing that review very shortly. Until then, back to the plastic. The seats, however, don't have any seatbelts, so pop a set in there made from lead foil, or some Eduard ones, as I can tell  you that the detail set I mention doesn't have these included for some odd reason.

The fuselage is split at the service entry point, where the engine would usually be maintained/removed. What is quite odd is that there is no engine with the kit, but I suppose there will be some aftermarket solution for this before too long, and Platz have designed their kit with this possibility. This could also allude to other versions in the pipeline too. The interior of these areas is fully detailed with former and stringer detail, as mentioned above.

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The wing has its lower part as a single span piece, minus the wingtip tanks. The main gear bay is moulded into this, and is reasonably detailed. A little thin lead wire in there will make this look very good indeed. Again, surface detail across all wing panels is neatly rendered with fine panel lines and access panels. Flaps and ailerons are moulded integrally though, so you'll need to use a few core skills to pose these dynamically. This also applies to the rudder and single piece tail-planes where the elevators are integral.

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The undercarriage is very well detailed for this scale too, and looks to be accurate in relation to my reference. The modeller also has an option to pose the airbrakes in either an open or closed attitude. The airbrake actuator assembly is also very detailed, and more than passable for 1:72 scale.

Fuselage air intakes are moulded separately too, with a blanking bulge at the rear so that you can't stare into an empty rear fuselage. The rear fuselage does have a tail pipe installed within, complete with exhaust nozzle.

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The canopy is moulded as a single piece though. If you wish to pose this open, I'm afraid it's time to get out your razor saw. This might be an option you wish to pursue if you install that detail set I keep mentioning. The clarity of the glazing is very good, but not crystal clear. I think a simple polishing with bring this out nicely, and a dip in the, for me, obligatory Klear/Future, will result in an immaculate canopy. Moulding quality is excellent.

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Decals are printed on a single sheet, and are produced by Cartograf. These are still reasonably thin, though perhaps a bit thicker than we are used to from Cartograf, but this of course depends on the specification given to Cartograf by their customer; in this case, Platz. Colour definition and print quality is superb, and everything is in perfect register. All stencils are crystal clear. Carrier film is minimal too. A correction sheet is also included for one decal.

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Instructions are printed on a single sheet with clear line drawings covering 11 constructional sequences.  Stencil drawings are superb, and scheme profiles are given as greyscale images but are easy to follow.

Schemes are provided for 9 JSDAF machines. Three of these relate to a single machine (*) at three phases of operation, although I can't explain the apparent overlaps in the dates given. The same applies to other schemes here. There is a possibility of re-designation or airframe rebuilds that could account for some irregularities here. Check asterisks for those airframes. The schemes are:

  • 81-5360, 304th TFS, Tuiki AB, 1992 *
  • 61-5206, 305th TFS, Hiyakuri AB, 1978 – 1992 **
  • 91-5406, 103rd TFS, Chitose AB, 1959 – 1968 ****
  • 81-5378, 3rd AW, Komaki AB, 1959 – 1968 ***
  • 81-5360, 304th TFS, Tuiki AB, 1977 – 1995 *
  • 81-5360, 301st TFS, Hiyakuri AB, 1973 – 1985 *
  • 61-5206, Aggressor Gp, Tuiki AB, 1981 – 1995 **
  • 81-5378, 5th TTS, Komaki AB, 1978 – 1995 ***
  • 91-5406, 203rd TFS, Chitose AB, 1964 – 1995 ****

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So what do we think?
There's no doubt this is an excellent little kit in just about area, and is reasonably priced at around £17 in UK currency. There's a lot of model here with a good parts-count, and what I expect to look fantastic when built. And build it I will, at some stage.

Very highly recommended.

Our sincere thanks to Platz hobby for the review sample used here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

James H