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IsraCast T-6 Texan II

RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT | MILITARY | REVIEW
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The Beechcraft Texan II was derived from the Pilatus PC-9 and won the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) competition in the 1990s. It is the current basic trainer for the U.S. Air Force, replacing the Cessna T-37B, and the primary trainer for the U.S. Navy, replacing the Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentor. It also serves several air arms around the world in trainer and light-attack roles.

IsraCast’s resin kit provides a one-piece fuselage with cockpit floors, bulkheads, and consoles inside, and a one-piece wing with wheel wells molded in. Exterior detail is fine, but with soft recessed lines. Separate fuselage nose, fin, horizontal stabilizers, ejection seats, main wheels, choice of two different instrument panels and coamings, propeller spinner and blades, and other small parts are also cast in resin. The main landing-gear struts and the nose gear with wheel are cast in white metal. Details such as main-gear doors, speed brake, and landing-gear oleo scissors are photo-etched. A one-piece vacuum-formed canopy is provided, and an impressive decal sheet rounds out the package.

With so few parts and simplified assembly, fit problems were minimal. But assembly was not without problems. Assembly steps are shown in poor-quality black-and-white photos with numbers pointing to parts already in place. Instrument-panel and console detail is provided by decals, but the console decals were wider than the molded-in consoles.

In Step 3, the instructions suggest drilling out “as much as you can” of the forward fuselage to allow room for lead weight. However, there’s no mention of how much weight is needed.

I bored out until the bit started to break into the front cockpit bulkhead, then filled the new cavity with lead bird shot anchored with super glue. It ended up being not nearly enough to balance the finished model, so I made a fine “spring tail” from stretched clear sprue to hold the tail up.

Some filling and sanding was needed after adding the nose to the fuselage and around the joints of the fin and stabilizer.

More errors in the instructions occur with the main landing gear. Both the strut assemblies in Step 5 and the doors in Step 6 are mislabeled — left should be right, etc. The struts should have the scissors forward and the axles outboard on your finished model. Struts and doors are shown properly installed in Step 8.

The kit’s vacuum-formed canopy was subpar, with a lot of ripples and bumps. It also didn’t fit well to the fuselage, especially at the wider rear bulkhead.

The comprehensive decal sheet provides tail markings for seven different Air Force training units, but I found the colored tailbands were too long to fit on the fin.

The sheet also provides standard Navy trainers and two U.S. naval aviation centennial schemes, along with markings for aircraft serving Canada, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, and New Zealand.

The paint scheme of the USAF bird I built is fairly simple — gloss white topside with gloss insignia blue on the underside. A red cheatline is provided as a decal with a white border to help keep it straight.
 
I painted my model with gloss enamels and used Alclad II chrome over gloss black for the spinner. Aftermarket silver striping decals cover the leading edges.
 
There are a few errors to watch out for on IsraCast’s eight-page color and markings guide. On the orange-and-white Navy plane, the ventral stabilizer is shown white on one side, orange on the other; it should be white on both. On the Air Force craft, the diagrams omit the aluminum leading edges of the stabilizer in the top view.

 Although well-printed, the decals were thin and translucent, showing any color demarcations underneath. The sheet has four thin, gray strips for canopy detonation cords, but the instructions show six strips. I used only the top centerline pieces.

Checking the finished model, it scales well with published dimensions. But the nose wheel is noticeably undersized.

I spent more time painting and decaling than building, with about 26 hours total. Overall, the model is not terribly complex. But assembling the resin, metal, and vacuum-formed parts requires experience.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2016 issue.

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