Trainer: Lockheed T-33A "T-Bird" – Hobbycraft 1/48
This article is part of a series:
I'm presenting today another short article for another 50's jet that is now on display in my cabinet. I had no idea I would be on such a 50's jet kick of late, but please bear with me for one more before sharing another prop plane in the coming weeks.
The subject matter a later model Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, often known as a T-Bird. These aircraft were used as a jet trainer for many years, and by many services, across many nations, and was largely a two-seat design transference of the Lockheed F-80. I initially decided to build this kit as a compliment to my F-80 and Korean War T-33, because though those aircraft had a part in the Forgotten War, I also wanted to highlight the T-33's career as a highly successful jet trainer. Achieving this required a kit with the integrated wing-tip tanks (ala Starfighter), and a good set of decals. The kit selected was Hobbycraft's wildly affordable boxing (also now Academy), and a bespoke T-33 sheet from Caracal. The decal decision was not an easy choice, as I also had an older Bare-Metal-Foil sheet with a number of well known US training squadrons.
Due to the fact that I already have a T-33 "on the ground", I decided to build this one wheels up, with a pilot figure in place. I'm not particularly fond of painting faces, and I feel that this shows in the figure. I took the opportunity to customize the pilot's helmet using some spare decals. Displaying the aircraft wheels up also did away with having to display HC's subpar landing gear struts (when compared to Monogram's F-80 components), and overall just made the build much simpler. The gear doors fit surprisingly well, given that the closed position is not an option in the instructions.
For paint, I decided to try something new, and that is Mission Model's Chrome, overtop MR 1500. The MMP Chrome sprays much thinner than Vallejo, and as such you can modulate the silver tones and shading all while spraying the same color. This worked well for what is a homogenously colored aluminum aircraft, and also one that is typically well polished. I thought this would be fitting for my display model, and thus also opted for no practical weathering effects. The paint was sprayed over with Tamiya X-22, which ultimately changed the look of the MMP Chrome, giving it a more 2D painted effect. I'm sure there are better options to preserve the sheen, but I was not up for experimenting at the time, and besides, I am still happy with the outcome. The decals went on as well as you'd expect Cartograph decals to (save for some shape differences, as this sheet was for the GWH kit), and all was again sealed with X-22 before spraying the anti-glare black and doing minor panel line highlighting.
I hope you like this colorful T-33A, a/c 53-5819 with the 81 TFW, USAF.
Also, my Lockheed family is expecting another arrival at some point in the future: