by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
HistoryTraining aircraft at any point in history have always played a very important role. Before being entrusted with combat machines, beginner pilots must pass flight testing on several types of trainer aircraft to acquire the theoretical skills learnt in the classroom. Two-seat versions machines have been used for this, when future fighter pilots are being prepared for example. However, as a rule, initial flights have been conducted in all-purpose built basic trainers.
In the recent history of America's aviation one of the most important machines of this class was North American's T-6 Texan, designed before the beginning of WWII and produced in a quantity of more than 15 thousand units. This machine was exported to many countries around the world, and its service lasted until the end of the 1960's. However with the end of the piston-engined era it became clear that a new airplane was needed which could replace the T-6 Texan for basic pilot training. The US Navy had a particular need for a new airplane - the fleet had now become the basis of the country's strategic projected power, and that is why it was necessary to build a machine for the speedy training of the new generation of beginner pilots to co-operate with ships and land an airplane on a carrier deck.
In 1946 the North American firm offered the XSN2J project to the Navy, which had to replace the SNJ (the Navy's name for the T-6). A year later, the Air Force also decided to replace the T-6, and North American quickly modified a prototype to the army specification, becoming the T-28. The first test flights took place in September 1949 and their results more than satisfied the military. North American received an order for 266 machines, designated the T-28A Trojan. The airplane had a classic tandem seating arrangement, a large cockpit with an excellent view, and could carry a variety of ordnance on the pylons under the wings if required. The airplane appeared so successful, that the North American firm soon brought additional manufacturing plants on stream. By the mid 1950's almost 1,200 T-28A's were produced.
Very soon after the acceptance of the T-28A into service the Air Force decided to improve the performance of the plane and install a more powerful engine. In such fashion appeared the T-28B fitted with a 1,425-power Wright Cyclone R-1820-9HD engine. The nose of the fuselage was modified to allow for the installation of a bigger engine, however on the whole the T-28B looked very much like its predecessor. Its flying weight increased slightly, however this did not reduce its performance figures; quite the opposite, they became even better due to the more powerful engine. Over three years the Navy received almost 500 airplanes of the T-28B version. Also, the Air Force began to replace the T-28A with the T-28B.
Apart from the USA, the T-28 was produced under license in France, where it was named the T-28S Fennec. After the end of service in the French Air Force these machines were passed on to various countries, from Morocco to Nicaragua. The Japanese Air Self Defense Force procured a T-28S for tests; however mass production which was planned with the support of "Mitsubishi" was cancelled. Some T-28B types, with provision for armament under the wings, were delivered to the Air Forces of South Vietnam and Thailand as foreign aid.
The KitThe kit comes in Rodenís typical top opening box with six sprues holding a total of 150 parts. Honestly folks, the thing I like about Roden is they model / mould individual parts rather than try to mould them already in-place on a larger part. The decal sheet includes profiles for three aircraft. The instructions come in an 8 page leaflet. Another plus for this kit is the level of detail compared to other previously manufactured kits.
Decals1. North American T-28B Trojan, 140006, Naval Aerospace Recovery Facility, NAS El Centro, California. 1970.
2. North American T-28B Trojan, 137692/KB4,U.S.Marine Corps, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, March 1977.
3. North American T-28B Trojan, 148288, Pacific Fleet All-Weather Training Unit, mid-1970.