Filling the gaps – Special Hobby’s 1/48 T-2C Buckeye
I have a confession to make: I think I have a couple of screws loose. That is the only explanation I have for my overarching modeling theme – building a complete collection of US military hardware from the 1920s to present. Well, at least what is available in 35th, 48th, and 350th scale. And with an undertaking like this, it helps to break it down into smaller sub-themes, making it more manageable and focused.
One of these sub-themes is a collection of US Navy and Marines training aircraft. As far as I know, there are only six 48th scale kits of USN trainers around (and this includes the ancient Testors PT-20). I cannot find the PT-20 anywhere, the T-45 Goshawk is readily available, SNJ Texan and T-28 Trojan are in my stash, and the Kaydet is done. And that leaves us with the chubby T-2 Buckeye…
Special Hobby’s Buckeye comes in two flavours: a boxing with the standard red/white trainer scheme, and the “Camouflaged Trainer” offering, containing some very nice markings for Greek, Venezuelan, and of course US Navy aircraft. As most of the other trainers I am going to build will either be yellow or red/white, I went for the camo version.
So, what do you get? Well, this is not a Tamiya kit. The plastic is a bit rough in places, there is flash galore, and fit isn’t always the best. In that sense, it is more of a short-run kit. What you do get, on the other hand, are some beautiful resin parts for the cockpit and seats, pre-painted photoetch for the instrument panels, clear acetate sheets for the gauges, and a very thin and clear vacuformed canopy.
The only real fault I could find with this kit is the rear cockpit. It sits about 2mm too low, which results in the rear seat not sufficiently clearing the cockpit side walls. An easy solution would be to raise the seat by stuffing some sheet styrene underneath it – but I this could look a bit weird, especially with an open canopy. So instead I cut apart the cockpit tub, shimmed the location tabs on the fuselage halves, and altered the cockpit sidewalls to accommodate the new cockpit position.
The trickiest part of the whole construction is the landing gear. the main gear struts consist of two parts each, with no positive locating pins and a mediocre fit. Once you have tackled this step, you have to attach the two-part oleo scissors, the gear bay doors, and the wheels, again with no clear locating points. Oh, and don’t forget the four tiny PE tie-downs on each gear strut…
The Fun Part
When painting the Buckeye I ran into some issues. After my usual primer coat of Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black, I traced the camo scheme with a thin white pencil and then started applying the first color, FS36440 Light Gull Grey. The combination of Lifecolor Acrylics and around 35°C in my hobby room resulted in paint constantly drying on the needle and some choice words. In general I like Lifecolor, as they offer a huge range of colors not only for aircraft, but also for ships. Spraying them is okay-ish most of the time, but in this instance, it was no fun at all. If only MRP would release colors for ships…
Anyway, I somehow managed to free-hand the scheme, adding FS36321 Dark Gull Grey and FS35164 Blue Grey. As I did not like the stark contrast between the colors, I oversprayed everything with a light coat of FS36720. Finally, the areas to be painted black were masked off and received some XF-1, followed by a misty application of XF-85 Rubber Black.
To the Finish Line
Decaling was done in no time, as this plane does not sport a lot of markings and hardly any stencils. I was lucky to find a picture of the very aircraft I was building, which helped a lot in getting the weathering right. I started by adding the paint touch-ups and corrosion control, using highly diluted paint and a very low air pressure. Next, I added a couple of different colors of Mig’s Panel Line Washes, working on small areas at a time and generally being slow.
Two Down, Four to Go
So, there it is. This kit was a bit of a challenge, but that was to be expected. I still enjoyed it very much, especially the final stages. Now, if someone could point me towards that Testors PT-20…