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In-Box Review
148
Stearman PT-17
Stearman PT-17
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

After years in the modelling wilderness, the iconic Stearman is finally being given the attention it deserves, firstly with Silver Wings' beautiful largescale resin kit (reviewed HERE), and now by Revell with a totally new-tool quarterscale kit that puts the ancient Lindberg version firmly out to pasture.

At present the new Stearman is only available from Revell USA and, being used to Revell Germanyís releases, I was fascinated at just how different the presentation style is between the two arms of the company - especially in the kitís instructions. But more of that laterÖ

Back to business. Produced in China, the Stearman arrives in a neat top-opening box, with all the sprues bagged for protection. The kit comprises:

57 x white styrene parts
3 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes

Yes, white plastic. Not normally my favourite colour to work with, because it makes spotting blemishes and seams that much harder (and, incidentally, doesnít show off the detail to its best in the accompanying photos), but for the Stearman itís an inspired choice. Why? Well, with so much yellow to paint (a colour thatís notoriously lacking in covering power) youíd have to spray a white undercoat anyway to get the best results. I guess one could have asked for the interior and other details to be moulded in a more modelling-friendly grey, but that would just be being picky. In my books itís full marks to Revell for choosing white.

The moulding itself looks excellent. Thereís no flash on the sample kit, and ejector pin marks are kept to a minimum. The fabric surfaces are quite subtly handled, with no exaggerated sagging or corrugated iron ribs. I especially like the fuselage, where the effect is drum-tight and just right (please Revell, tackle a Hurricane in the same style!). Metal panels are neatly engraved and there are a few raised fasteners and inspection panels. The gaps around the ailerons look a bit excessive but, generally, the surface finish is very nice! One exterior feature I certainly wasnít so impressed to find, however, is the makerís name and copyright moulded in raised letters under the tail. Come on Revell; this is a hark back to old-style kits we could do without.

Test fit
The Stearman is aimed at modellers aged 12 and, with young and less experienced modellers in mind, Revellís designers have aimed to make assembling a biplane as undaunting as possible, while avoiding the non-scale compromises that marred such kits in years gone by. So, the fuselage sides clip together neatly and feature integrally moulded cabane struts and undercarriage legs to ensure a solid and true basis for the rest of the build.

The full-span top wing is split into upper and lower halves, while the bottom wing is moulded in 3 parts with with separate upper panels. This slots in solidly and so should ensure the correct dihedral, but does mean a seam to a fill across the stringer detail on the belly. (Note: once the lower wing is removed form the sprue, it has a tendency to flatten out, so you'll still need to watch the dihedral.) The wings and rudder boast beautifully thin trailing edges while, oddly, the elevators are rather heavier.

A few details
The fuselage halves feature delicately depicted ribs and stringers running all the way back to the tail. Add to that a 17-part interior, including a well moulded cockpit framework, side console, rudder pedals, heel boards, linked control columns, throttles and fire extinguisher, and you have the basis of a pair of quite impressive ďofficesĒ. The seats are nice and thin, but feature moulded-on harnesses. The instrument panels are a bit vague, but the kit includes well-printed decals for them, so itís a shame they didnít print seatbelts as an option too.

Revell have really gone to town on the engine, which is lucky because the little Continental is uncowled and all there to see. Surprisingly, the designers have gone one step further and included a nicely detailed firewall, engine mount and rear accessories too. The 12-part sub-assembly should look excellent if painted carefully, especially if you add some cabling and fuel lines - and separate side panels ensure it wonít all be hidden. Rounding things off up front is a choice of wooden or metal propellers, the former complete with wood-grain decals.

The wheels are neatly moulded with separate hubs. The tyres are unweighted and depict a rather heavy block tread pattern, but photos of Stearmans also show plain ridged and diamond tread patterns (ironically, the block tread is the one style I havenít spotted yetÖ).

Instructions and decals
After Revell Germanyís cluttered and confused instructions, these are a real breath of fresh air to me; clearly drawn and broken down into logical stages, with plenty of space on each page. Thereís even a useful list of parts, with each piece named in English, French and Spanish. Suggested colours are keyed to most details (oddly, not matched to Revellís own paint range).

A rigging guide is provided, but the only fly in the proverbial ointment is that the attachment points arenít marked on the parts. Presumably this is to give an unblemished surface for modellers who donít want to rig their kit, but no locations are shown in the instructions in any detail either, so it will mean checking plans or photos and carefully drilling each hole.

Decals are supplied for two aircraft:

1. US Army Stearman no. 456 in classic blue and yellow trim
2.US Navy Stearman no. 88 in overall yellow

Both subjects are ďwarbirdsĒ, bearing small civil codes, but the schemes look otherwise authentic for vintage machines to me, so Iíll be tempted to simply leave them off. A nice touch is that FS matches are given for the colours.

The decals look to be excellent quality. Nice and thin, and printed in perfect register on the sample sheet. The wood-pattern propeller decals are a really interesting idea - although coaxing them to fit the complex curves could take a fair bit of decal softener. Itíll certainly be worth trying though to see the effect.

Conclusion
Revellís new Stearman is a real little gem of a kit that deserves to be a real hit. It looks simple enough for less experienced modellers, while packing in plenty of detail for this scale. As one of the most important trainers in history it deserves a place in any collection. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: A new-tool Stearman is massively overdue! Nicely moulded and very well detailed. Good quality decals and excellent value for money.
Lows: Makerís inscription moulded on the exterior. Tyre treads very heavy and possibly not correct for vintage machines. Rigging points not marked.
Verdict: Overall, Revellís new Stearman is a very fine kit, designed to be simple to build for average modellers, but with plenty of detail for this scale.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 85-5264
  Suggested Retail: $16.95
  PUBLISHED: Apr 28, 2014
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.64%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 82.35%

Our Thanks to Revell!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2017 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Hey Rowan , I'm pretty impressed with the quality of this kit . Very nice effect with fuselage and wing ribbing . Prop decals are a nice touch for those who don't want to give wood graining or a go or are just plan lazy like me sometimes Terri
APR 28, 2014 - 06:29 PM
Just might have to buy this little gem. Of course I'll rely on Terri to post pictures of the rigging holes.
APR 28, 2014 - 07:31 PM
Nothing odd about them not being matched to Revell's own range - there *isn't* a Revell range in the US or Canada. The company's own site FAQ specifically states the Revell paints are German only and that modelers should substitute a match or similar color "from companies such as Testors, Tamiya and others."
APR 29, 2014 - 06:13 PM
Cheers Al I hadn't realised that. Revell (US) paints were such a part of my youth, I assumed they must still carry a range these days. All the best Rowan
MAY 07, 2014 - 03:28 PM
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