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1/48 Academy Lockheed T-33A USAF Jet Trainer

Always loved the early jets, especially the F-80/T-33 family of jets from the famed Kelly Johnson’s SKunk Works team and facility. So when a customer requested a T-33 build I was happy to oblige! When I asked the reason he wanted this particular aircraft he shared his story with me. He told me he was a 2nd Lt. in the USMC being trained as a forward air observer officer. During his training he had an opportunity to fly in several multi-place trainers including the T-33 and a T-38 owned by the USAF. He also had a lot of time logged in this capacity in famed aircraft such as the USMC OA-4M Skyhawk and of coarse the OV-10 Bronco. He eventually wants me to build all of them for him. So far I have only delivered this one, and a T-38 also posted on my blog on this site.

As a kit I felt the Academy T-33 got the job done. Despite being an older kit it was designed well, and fit was good. I needed to use some resin upgrades to enhance the cockpit and make it a bit more realistic and busy looking. I do recommend the kit and did not experience any real issues even after fitting the resin cockpit tub. The decals are also excellent, and came with the kit. They performed great despite being old and in my stash for at least 10 plus years.

I have been working hard on improving my NMF skills. I have been using the newer Vallejo Metallic color line of paints exclusively for my NMF look. I find them to be easy to work with, require minimum preparation, and are extremely durable if applied over a decent acrylic primer. My disclaimer on using this paint is that I am not after a polished aluminium look on most of my NMF models. I am after a more worn, and/or painted on, aluminium look which for most front-line and trainer aircraft is a more realistic appearance IMHO. Not looking for that airshow replica finish or newer, out of the factory look. If I was looking for a newer, polished look I am not sure if the Vallejo line would get it done especially compared to the lacquer based NMF paints such as an ALCAD brand type. But I never really tested this look with these paints so cannot offer a real opinion based on experience. Maybe if you did all the intensive sanding and prep work that those brands require prior to painting the metal base you may get close, if not, just as nice. With this build I used the Vallejo Panzer Grey Primer and then pre-shaded with acrylic black, and white. I then post-shaded with Tamiya smoke very thinned. The red markings are all kit decals with lots of solvent solutions. Vallejo Zinc Chromate was used for the interior of the wells, and flaps.

In summary great kit, needs a little detail updates to busy up the interior, fit is great, and decals work fine even on the curved surfaces of the wing tanks. I do recommend the kit with a 4 out of 5 rating overall. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

18 additional images. Click to enlarge.


9 responses to 1/48 Academy Lockheed T-33A USAF Jet Trainer

  1. Paul – a great looking T-33! I plan to build one soon, as my dad received some of his training in this (along with the -38 and -34). I’ve used MM metalizer in rattle cans up to this point, but am just getting ready to start with airbrush, and I like the look you got with the Vallejo line, especially for 1/72 scale. I think you hit it just right. Here’s one pic of a line-up of -33’s at McChord AFB in the early 60’s.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  2. Nicely done, Paul….I think your NMF looks great!

  3. Yeah, the Vallejo line is the best. No smell, no likelihood of the paint eating the model (I have seen Alclad do that).

    Very nice work on this model, and Bravo-Zulu on the photography so I can see how really nice it is. 🙂

  4. Big fan of your work, Paul. The style is lovely, the weathering gentle but she’s a clearly used bird. Lovely build.

  5. Another hit, Paul! Looks great!

  6. I love these early jets as well, especially this one.

  7. Great T-33, Paul. I too like the weathering and clean look you gave it. Looks great!

  8. Well done. I’m using more and more Vallejo paint now. One thing I’ve found is to let the paint sit for a few days before masking. This allows the paint to really harden up

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