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Robert Knaack
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WWII Navy flight trainers

June 14, 2020 · in Aviation · · 8 · 2.2K

I'm nearing the end of my Navy dive bomber collecting spree, having just received a Vac Wings BT-1 in the mail, so I turned my attention to Navy trainers for a bit before starting that project. I was pleased to find the following kits were available. Have a look.

(Boeing) N2S(PT17) Kaydet 8,584 aircraft produced from 1936-1944. It is a widely used and recognized trainer that still flies today, I see them in the air here in Eastern Iowa frequently.

The kit is the excellent new one from . It's every good thing you've heard about it. I like to say it's the easiest kit I've ever done well, if you know what I mean. Nicely detailed and went together with no issues whatsoever. I painted it Vellejo Air yellow accented with Tamiya panel line black.

Vultee SNV(BT13) 9,525 units produced from 1940-1945.
The Model 54/74/79 basic trainer was a single-engine, two-seat, low-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear designed as a transition trainer between primary trainers, such as the Stearman N2S Kaydet, q.v., and advanced trainers, such as the North American , q.v. The aircraft was all metal with metal framed, fabric covered control surfaces, i.e., the elevators, rudder and ailerons; the tandem cockpits, under a continuous transparent canopy, had dual controls. The BT-13/SNVs were powered by a 450 hp (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985 nine-cylinder, single-row, air-cooled radial engine driving a Hamilton-Standard two-position variable-pitch propeller. There was a shortage of R-985 engines in 1941-42 and 1,693 Model 74s were completed with a 450 hp (340 kW) Wright R-975-11 nine-cylinder, single-row, air-cooled radial engine; these aircraft were delivered to the USAAF only and were designated BT-15-VUs.
The first SNV-1 flew on 5 August 1941 and was delivered to Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi, Texas. By December 1941, there were 35 SNV-1s at both NAS Corpus Christi and NAS Pensacola, Florida. During the war, SNVs were also based at NAS Jacksonville and Miami, and Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Barin Field and Ellyson Field, Florida and NAAS Cabaniss Field and Cuddihy Field, Texas.The last SNV-2 was delivered on 28 February 1944 and the SNV-1 was declared obsolete in May 1945. The last SNV-2 was removed from the inventory in April 1946.

The kit is a resin kit from and it had very nice details and the fit was good. I already had a Vector resin R-985 motor that had better detail than the one that came with it, so I substituted that. It is painted Testers Flat Aluminum and Flat black, with Testers Silver on the canvass covered control surfaces. Clear coated with Testers clear coat from the rattle can. Other than the engine, it is out of box, with custom decals (since the kit only had Army decals supplied). The aircraft depicted only served with the Navy for six months before being stricken from inventory.

Curtiss SNC 455 produced from 1942-1945
The Dutch ML-KNIL ordered dozens of CW-22s, most of which were not delivered until after the outbreak of the war. Many of these aircraft were therefore delivered to Australia and flown into the Netherlands East Indies from Darwin. Once arrived in Java, the Dutch CW-22s were assigned to reconnaissance squadrons and used to keep tabs on the Japanese forces as they advanced on Java. When the island was invaded, the CW-22s were pressed into service as light bombers in the hopes that they could do something to slow the advance – however, their efforts were in vain.

For those of you who like to do captured aircraft, some Falcons were captured by the Japanese and put into service. There are only 3 known surviving aircraft in existence today.

This kit from Planet Models was my first experience with resin. The kit had great details for the cockpit and engine compartment. The engine itself was as detailed as a Vector engine kit, so I was pleased with that. The fit was good, and it went together with few issues. Painted with Testers Flat Aluminum, and Testers Yellow with a drop of Testers Orange for the wing. Two canopies were supplied - they were the thinnest vacu-formed canopies I had ever worked with, but they made for good results with open cockpits.

North American SNJ(AT6) Texan 15,495 produced from 1939-1968.
Everyone is familiar with the Texan, which had a long life with the military. The last SNJ removed from Navy inventory in 1968!

This is the older Revell kit, which is nicely detailed. I had done this one several years ago, but lately noticed the paint job was poor and the decals were peeling, so I gave it a new coat of Vellejo aluminum and updated the decals. A very nice kit.

MIssing from the collection are the Naval Aircraft Factory N3N and the Timm N2T, neither of which are available as kits in 1/48 scale, though there are 1/72 scale kits out there.

Reader reactions:
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27 additional images. Click to enlarge.

8 responses

  1. Great collection of trainers. I spent half my flying career flying T-37s, so I have a soft spot for trainers of all kinds. I looks like you build models of all types, like resin, plastic, vac, etc. Looking forward to seeing your next build.

  2. A nice bit of Naval Aviation, all look great !

  3. Really interesting niche collection. Thanks for the read!

  4. That's a nice collection, Robert!
    Beautiful builds; enjoyed watching them altogether!
    Nice presentation and info provided.

  5. Well done Robert, that's a good looking collection. It would be great if say Tamiya or Hasegawa would develop a new BT-13. I'd buy it

  6. Robert @robgenev665
    What a great collection of trainers. We had the Curtiss SNC aircraft also stationed here at NAS Daytona Beach during the War. Somewhere I have a photo showing several of them in Daytona. I would really love to see a main stream manufacturer build a plastic kit of both the BT-13 and the Curtis SNC. I'd buy several of each. The Revell Stearman is a good looking kit in the box... I have 3 of them, but have not built any yet.

    This is me sitting in a BT-13 cockpit at Fantasy of Flight a long time ago. IT was a great day, but it was also almost 100 degrees outside and very humid !

    Thanks for sharing these beauties with us. Well done.


  7. A great looking "collection" build! Well done.

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