by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star is an American-built jet trainer. It was produced by Lockheed and made its first flight in 1948, piloted by Tony LeVier. The T-33 was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80. Initially it was the TP-80C/TF-80C but during development it was then designated the T-33A. It was used by the U.S. Navy initially as TO-2 then TV-2, and after 1962, T-33B. Despite its vintage, the T-33 remains in service worldwide. The T-33 has served with over 30 nations, and continues to operate as a trainer in smaller air forces. Canadair built 656 T-33s on licence for service in the RCAF as the CT-133 Silver star while Kawasaki manufactured 210 in Japan. Other operators included Brazil, Turkey and Thailand, which used the T-33 extensively.
A limited number of T-33s have found their way into private hands; some current owners: Michael Dorn of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, Canadair T-33., and Greg Colyer of the T33 Heritage Foundation based in northern California who operates a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star monikered "Ace Maker". Various T-33s are based out of Wendover airport, Utah. Kay Eckhardt has his T-33s based at Wendover they are a Blue Angels variant and a bare metal USAF version. In 2010, a T-33 Shooting Star owned by Boeing was used as a chase aircraft during the maiden flight of the Boeing 787 and Boeing 747-8.
Inside the top opening box is:
-4 x grey plastic sprues.
-1 x clear plastic sprue.
-1 x sheet of waterslide decals.
-1 x extending sheet of instructions.
The cockpit is mainly occupied by the one piece tub for both crew positions. The tub floor has some raised footrests and locating stubs for the seats. There is some fine low relief instrument detail on the side consoles which will benefit from some careful painting. If you prefer there are some decals for the side console which look a lot more interesting than the low relief detail. The detail on the decals is a little exaggerated for this scale. Obviously if you go the decal route then the raised detail will need to be removed.
The two separate instrument panels have pretty unconvincing raised detail representing the instruments. Thankfully there are more decals for the instruments, which look a lot more convincing. The control sticks look a bit over scale, but the shape is good. The two seats also look good if a little thick at the sides. The instructions suggest there are decal harnesses, but I cannot see any. The cockpit interior is painted dark gull grey. Overall the detail of the cockpit is a bit of a let-down particularly as much of it is on show under that large canopy.
The canopy is one piece and its beautifully moulded. Itís very clear and the framework is nicely defined. There is a grey plastic frame/roll bar to fit onto the inside of the canopy between the two crew positions. The frame is thick and would benefit with a bit thinning. The frame/roll bar featured on some T-33's used by the USAF, although I have not tracked down any images of this particularly aircraft to see whether it was fitted or not.
The fuselage is divided into four main parts: two for the forward section and two parts for the rear. The join for the two sections is at the joint where the rear fuselage could be pulled away for engine changes and maintenance. There is a slight lip around circumference of the rear fuselage which will provide some additional strength to the joint. The outer surface of the fuselage has some fine recessed and raised detail. The raised area around the upper nose panel is over empathised, but it should be no problem reducing the surface to be flusher with the surrounding area. The vertical tail is moulded in one piece on the left hand fuselage. Internally there is quite a bit of raised framework around the split of the forward and aft fuselage. The raised detail extends 2cm into the forward section and 3cm into the aft section. The raised framework also extends to the inner parts of the one piece lower wing. Perhaps Platz were intending to create a replica of the engine. This is impression is backed up by the separate bulkhead that fits just aft of the air intakes. There are four locating holes possibly designed for the phantom engine. While we are inside the model, the jet pipe is three pieces; the main pipe is two pieces, and a nice looking one piece nozzle is added to the rear. There are locating pins and tabs to help align the halves of the fuselage together. Dry fitting the rear fuselage together itís noticeable that the base of the fin on the starboard side sits slightly higher than the rest of the area around it. Some gentle sanding on the inside remedies this. I also tried the fit of the two sections of the fuselage and it is very good. Another way is to join the port forward fuselage half to the port rear fuselage half [the same with the starboard side] creating one piece halves. This works very well indeed.
Platz has decided that the complex shape of the fuselage around the air intakes necessitated breaking this area down into a number of parts. The air intakes themselves are each two pieces, the splutter plate is separate. I do like the attempt Platz has made to make the plate look detached from the fuselage, a nice touch. Itís an obvious feature on the real thing. The intake is blanked off far enough into the duct to give a good impression of depth. The primary compressor blades are not represented although I doubt you could see them anyway. The lower part of the intakes is on a one piece part that fits under the fuselage just forward of the line of the leading edge of the wing. There is a good sizes attachment point on the inner part to help with its fitting. A dry fit of the components reveals a very good fit that will respond well with liquid glue. The whole area despite the complexity is nicely engineered and looks very good indeed.
The forward undercarriage bay is a separate one piece tub, but there is no detail inside. Platz has replicated the deeper section where the nose wheel is housed when the gear is up. There is a raised ejector pin mark in the roof of the nose wheel bay. Hopefully once all the bits are in there it will not be too obvious.
One annoying fault on my sample is a slight sag in the plastic midway along the upper wing root. The gentle curve of the aerofoil section on the fuselage has a dip in it. This occurs on both sides of the fuselage.
The wings are broken down into three parts, the lower wing half is one piece. The recessed panel lines overall and the raised detail in the main wheel bays are nicely done. Oddly there is no detail in the airbrake bays, though the complex air brake arms will hide the deficiency in detail. Airbrakes can be shown deployed or retracted; the airbrake doors are very well detailed particularly on the inside. The locating pins in the wings fit into the holes with a satisfying click. The fit is very good. Trailing edges will benefit from a few swipes with a sanding stick. The wing is very thin, little wonder there was the need for the large wing tip fuel tanks. The two large wing tip fuel tanks are made in two halves, the winglet is a single separate part. The attachment to the wings is by a tiny locating tab on the fuel tanks.
The horizontal stabilisers are both one piece and very thin, the trailing edges are razor sharp. The locating tabs are different on each stabiliser so there is no excuse for gluing them on upside down.
Undercarriage nose gear is created from four parts while the main undercarriage has just three parts. The one piece wheels are beautifully moulded with very fine spoke detail. The undercarriage doors have some excellent detail on the inside surfaces. Unfortunately because of the thickness of the doors there are some signs of shrinkage in the plastic on the outer panels. Itís not bad and could be explained away as stress marks on the skin. Otherwise some light sanding will remedy any unevenness, but itís worth it as the detail looks very good.
Accuracy looks very good, I canít see any alarming discrepancies looking at scale plans and images.
Markings is for just the one aircraft:
0-57761 USAF 5041st Tactical Operations Squadron, Elmendorf AFB Alaska, 1976.
Colour is white overall with insignia blue and red markings.
Decals are printed by Cartograf. You will be pleased to know all the lines and coloured areas are reproduced on the decal sheet. Even the canopy framing has some decals. There is next to no carrier film beyond the coloured area of most of the markings. Some of the decals are broken up so that they will have more chance of conforming to some of the more complex shapes of the fuselage. Colour depth and registration looks spot on. For those of you that want to paint the markings on, you will also be pleased that the ďSpirit of Seventy-SixĒ, the ď76Ē surrounded by stars and the three single white stars for the nose and the wing tip tanks there are additional separate decals. Well done Platz! If you look beyond the mass of lines it does look fairly straightforward to mask and paint the markings.
Instructions are very good with unambiguous black line drawings and written instructions in Japanese and English. Platz do some of the best instructions that I have seen. I like the way they focus on the more detailed parts of the kit: such as the cockpit, undercarriage, and flaps. Marking and painting guide features upper and lower plan views and port and starboard profiles.
Paint references are provided as Federal Standard, Mr Color and Model Master.
This is a really well engineered and accurate looking model of the T-33 Shooting Star. Platz has included some great detail where itís most likely to be seen, but the cockpit is disappointing in its detail. The plastic has been pushed to its limits in some areas, but overall this is a very good kit.