by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
One of Platz's latest kits is a neat representation of the Kawasaki T-4 intermediate trainer in the colours of the JASDF's No 11 Sqn. display team, Blue Impulse. Based at Matsushima, Blue Impulse have been flying a the T-4 as a 6-aircraft team since 1995.
Platz's T-4 arrives in an attractive top-opening box, the top of which combines a colour painting guide along with a useful reference shot of one of the full-size Blue Impulse aircraft. The parts are bagged separately and the kit comprises:
45 x white styrene parts
5 x clear parts (with a complete spare set included)
Decals for any one of the team's 6 aircraft
The parts are very cleanly moulded and I couldn't find any sink marks on the review kit. The surface detailing comprises finely engraved panel lines, while smaller parts such as the cockpit and wheels feature some nice crisp detailing.
Test FitConstruction is quite simple. The fuselage is made up from 3 parts - sides and a separate bottom section - and the fit is very positive. The wings are 1-piece each and plug in firmly, with a good tight fit at the roots, the same being true for the stabilizers. The fit of the main parts is tight enough to almost allow the model to be considered a clip-together kit, but conventional assembly is still recommended to deal with a few small seams.
The undercarriage can be build raised or lowered. No mention seems to be made in the Japanese language instructions of the need for any weight to prevent the model being a tail sitter, but there's room in the nose if it is required. To display the model wheels-up a neat stand is provided with a pivoting head. The slot for the stand is ready opened, but it's in a rather awkward place to fill if you want to hide it. The only point I'd really question in the kit's design is the decision to mould the nose pitot tube in place - it's just asking to be damaged during construction, and in fact the sample arrived with it already bent slightly in transit.
Despite its few parts, the kit includes some effective details for this scale. The cockpit features a tub with raised controls on the side consoles. There are separate control columns and (rather basic) ejector seats, while the main instrument panels are included in the clear sprue. It's perhaps surprising that no pilot figures are included for the in-flight mode. The undercarriage should look good with detail on the wheels that puts many larger kits to shame, and the drop tanks feature well detailed integral pylons.
Two complete sets of transparencies are included on the clear sprue, so presumably a dual kit of the T-4 must be planned (or already available). The one-piece canopy is beautifully clear, and the inclusion of a spare invites you to try cutting one up to display open, although it's probably too thick to be very convincing in this small scale.
Instructions & DecalsAs noted above, the instructions are written entirely in Japanese. This is no hindrance for the simple construction, but it does mean that what looks to be an interesting history of the Blue Impulse team, including a description of some of their maneuvers are lost on the wider world audience.
Paint references for Gunze Sanyo and Model Master acrylics are clearly marked, so you should have no trouble finding suitable paints wherever you're based.
As usual with Platz kits, the decals are custom-printed by Cartograf, and they are well up to the firm's impeccably high standard; the thin, glossy decals are in perfect register, with crystal clear carrier film. This really bears fruit with one of the characteristic traits of Platz's decals, namely the combining of multiple smaller markings into one larger decal. So, in this case, the upper wing markings include Hinomarus, "no step" boundaries and stencilling (clearly legible, despite it being 1:100) as a single decal per wing.
Markings are included for all six Blue Impulse aircraft, along with a chart showing the crew names for each machine.
The overall colour scheme is blue and white. Most of the blue areas are provided as decals, along with a paint mix for the colour so you can paint the undersides of the wings and fuselage, along with the drop tanks.
ConclusionPlatz's Blue Impulse T-4 is a great little kit, simple enough to make an ideal weekend build, but still showing a satisfying level of detail. I suppose the only down-point for many modellers will be the choice of 1:100 as the scale. While there is a dedicated fan-base for 1:100, I can't help thinking the T-4 would attract a wider market in 1:72 and, of course, Platz have a growing range of beautiful little 1:144 models, so this in-between size may limit the kit's appeal somewhat, which would be a shame in view of its quality.
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