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Louis Gardner
170 articles

1/48 Ryan PT-20 US Army Air Corps Trainer

January 9, 2017 · in Aviation · · 29 · 4K

Here's one for your enjoyment that's hot on the heels of my XP-51. Tonight's "Pre War" themed article is about the ancient Testors kit that I finished early last year. It was the first plane that I completed in 2016.

I'm pretty sure that Testors re-boxed the old "" kit when this one was released back around 1983 as kit number 510. It's a very simple model and doesn't even have a cockpit. It came with two pilots and has a cockpit floor. That's it... It had a small plastic base (that was molded to look like water with impressions for two floats to sit into). It had a set of twin floats and Danish markings as a building option. I'm pretty sure it's original DNA evolved somewhere during the mid 1960's when Hawk originally released the kit.

I bought this kit way back when it was new from Testors ! As a kid I mowed a few of our neighborhood lawns with my trusty push mower and had my dear old Dad take me down to the local hobby shop. That's where I found this little gem... and I departed with some of my earnings.

This kit sat for many years in storage first at my parents house after I joined the Army and I went away to see the world. Then life happened, and so on.

Fast forward about 35 years or so, (give or take a few) and I found this tiny plane in my collection. This plane has a special sentimental value to me since it brings back those childhood memories when life was much simpler.

Not long after I purchased this kit (many moons ago), I had the opportunity to fly "front seat" in a real PT-22. The PT-22 is a very similar type plane to the PT-20, but instead of a 4 cylinder inverted Ranger engine, it has a 5 cylinder radial. It also has a distinctive sound which is unlike any other, due to the unique exhaust pipe arrangements where two cylinders dump into one exhaust pipe, and the other three cylinders dump into individual pipes on the other side. If memory serves me correctly, the main landing gear were not covered in wheel pants either. The wheels were right out in the open.

Since this model is so old, I didn't even bother attempting to use the original kit decals. Instead, I decided to try something different and came up with this fictitious but plausible set of markings .

So I made up a set of spray masks for the 4 position wing insignia, and gave it a go. I also sprayed the 13 red and white rudder stripes. The number 39 was something I had in my decal spares. I trimmed off the excess clear decal material, since I have found that if you do not it seems to take away some of the luster when they are applied over a silver or metallic base coat.

I made some minor improvements with this one. First off, the original clear parts were missing... So I formed a set of wind shields from clear sheet plastic from a package container. I added the flying and landing wires using clear sewing thread. I replaced the two struts that go from the upper surface of the wing to the fuselage sides just ahead of the front cockpit using leftover parts from another previous build.

The plane was spray painted using Model Master enamels. I also covered this one with bare metal foil, using chrome, ultra bright chrome and matte aluminum shades of material.

This thing looks tiny sitting next to my other WW2 Warbirds...

As usual, comments are encouraged.

Thanks for looking. Enjoy.

Reader reactions:
5  Awesome

19 additional images. Click to enlarge.

29 responses

  1. Nice work with that bare metal foiling job, Louis...and those windscreens came out really well. For antennas and such (I stay away from anything with rigging 🙁 ), I use that elastic "EZ Line", available at various mail-order places - I got mine from Bobe's in Pensacola - they come in a couple of different thicknesses. I like that build a lot.

    • Thanks for the modeling tip buddy. I may have to get some EZ line in the future and try it. I also appreciate the compliments on the build. Thanks again my friend.

  2. Another stunning build great job!

  3. Louis, this kit came out from Hawk in 1967, about the time the Lysander, the F-5 and the OV came out. Testors then got the molds, and has reissued it several times. Besides the US markings, I've seen Mexican and Netherlands East Indies as well.
    Shame there's not a conversation kit to do a PT 22, I'd buy one. Or two.
    Just a pretty little plane.
    One of them appeared in "Dive Bomber" as an "RAF Something or other". They had a wierd nose mockup on it.

    • I knew the Hawk kit had been around for a while. Thanks for bringing me up to speed with the new information on the original release date.

      I remember building the chrome plated Lysander that was released by Testors. I also had the chrome Bearcat. Both looked pretty cool once completed but the drawback was that you had to scrape off the chrome plating before you could glue the model together. Then you had to touch up areas where the glue would affect the chrome. This bare metal foil achieves the look of the polished aluminum pretty good. I too would like to see a PT-22 release. I'd buy a few too.
      I didn't remember that the plane was in the movie Dive Bomber. Very cool !
      Thanks again buddy for the compliments.

  4. Nice ! Looks good on wheels, I'm currently doing the Danish float plane for the waterwings group build.

    • I went over and checked out your build on the Cessna. Any updates on the Ryan ? It looks like it has the same instructions that came with my old kit. It should look great once you get her done. Thanks for sharing my friend.

  5. Nice work on such an old kit, I'm almost inclined to call it cute! You've managed to keep the character of the original kit but still brought it up to date.

    • I tried to update it a little by replacing the struts and adding rigging. The windscreen replacement was a necessity and not by choice... The original clear parts were missing. It's a neat little plane. Thanks George.

  6. Louis, another classic, I do enjoy the pre-war schemes your doing.
    Nice work !

    • Thanks my friend. I have always been a big fan of the pre war era for the Army Air Corps / Air Forces planes and the Yellow Wings Navy. They just seem to really pop. They had some great color combinations. I appreciate the compliments.

  7. Nice looking kite. Great job getting the foil around the spats

    • The foil installation on the wheel pants was a little challenging. I remember it split several times. Another area that was hard to apply was the small fillet area between the stabilizer and the rudder. It's such a small area and the material didn't want to stick very well. Thank goodness for Q tips !
      Thanks for the kind words George. I'm glad you liked the article as well.

  8. Oh that looks great Louis! A very cool little model that should inspire me to get mine out of the cabinet and give her a try too. Bravo sir! 🙂

  9. Another nice finish on this, Louis. Pre-war was a very colorful period!

  10. Stunning - absolutely love the bare metal finish! Makes the build really stand out - so striking. Excellent stuff!

    • The bare metal foil is a major factor with this one. It replicated the natural look of highly polished aluminum pretty well I think. I agree with you that it really does make the model stand out in a crowd. Thanks for the compliments Sir ! Take care my friend.

  11. My Father's favorite plane. Great job.

    • My Dad really liked the PT-22, PT-17 and the Waco UPF-7. He took me up for my first plane ride when I was 7 and we flew in the Waco. He told me numerous flying stories.

      One time he was flying inverted in a Stearman and the seat fell away about 16 inches or so ! The seat straps kept him from going the rest of the way out...His upper body was in the slip stream.

      He said there were probably still marks on the fuselage tubing by the front seat where he had a "Death Grip" ! I can only imagine...

      Thanks for the compliment friend.

  12. Thats a real head turner Louis !
    Again amazing work !

  13. Great job, Louis! Another jewel from your collection.

      • I just re-read your write-up. You flew front seat in a brother of these? Awesome! Colour me green with envy! I LOVE the sound of radials & the one you flew in would be even better! Using bare metal foil sounds difficult.

        • Yes Jeff I was very fortunate. I rode front seat in a close cousin of this type. It was a PT-22 which had a 5 cylinder radial engine. Other than that, it's pretty close to being the same plane. Bare metal foil is actually pretty easy for me to use. It takes a few attempts at first, but once you get the hang of it I find it quite easy to use. Thanks again for the compliments. PS, I really like your new Avatar. 11th Cav "Black Horse". I was 3rd Cav "Brave Rifles".

  14. Hey Louis, don't know how I missed this, this is beautiful Buddy, love the finish you got, this is master class building.

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