The Martin T4M-1 and Plus Models
This article is both a review and commentary on the new Plus Models 1/72 Martin T4M-1. Previous T4M-1s have been released in resin (Ardpol 1/72) and as a vac-form (Esoteric 1/72). This is Plus Models first foray into 1/72 aircraft and to be honest it shows. We have a desirable subject but with gaps in research and short cuts. To be fair to them - a lot of the material out there is confusing and there is very little on the interior. Still with more time taken it could have been a much better first model. One choice that would have been better considered would have been to have a separate sprue for the floats. That would have eliminated several of the short cuts. The kit comes in two boxings - a wheeled version and a floatplane version but all that differs between boxings is the decal sheet.
I'm going to focus on the wheeled version and the version of the T4M-1 that can be built out of the box is a later wheeled version with some qualifications. When T4M-1s first entered service in 1928 they came with exposed wire spoked wheels, tail skids and fore and aft hooks.
Certain parts also need replacement particularly struts and wheel braces. From photos it is clear that some of these were round in cross section but Plus Models have made all of them a kind of aerofoil section. Particularly worth replacing are the tail support and actuation struts which are wrongly shaped and overscale, the interplane support struts and stays for the undercarriage. Another aspect that needs addressing is missing surface detail. Ribbing, access panels, the starboard side hatch and fuselage spine rails are all omitted and these are features which were present throughout the aircraft's career. Despite the aircraft representing a later modified aircraft with tailwheel the engine baffle plate is the earlier variety and the engine though a nicely detailed resin product lacks the oil sump
For colour schemes there is a similar confusion - Plus Models have chosen to do three aircraft from VT-1B of USS Lexington and one aircraft from VT-2B of USS Saratoga. The latter seems to be the most accurate decal wise representing an aircraft in 1930. Others suffer from what seems to be reliance on the dubious profiles of Wings Aviation (though there is a lot of valuable research and information on that website). Unfortunately the US roundels provided with the decals are of one kind only - with the red circle touching the corners of the star (there was some variation at that time)
To summarize the Plus Models T4M-1 is a first model and one shouldn't expect perfection but also one can expect a better effort than Plus models have actually put in. Minimal reliance on photos and short cuts have combined to create a disappointing effort which requires more correction than it should. The engineering options taken also indicate inexperience (the interior in particular) and a disregard of what the molding technology Plus Models use can actually do. One hopes Plus Models do continue to make aircraft as they started with an exciting option but one also hopes that their next kit is more carefully planned and researched.
Brengun are planning to release an etched brass detail set for this kit. A look at the set suggests that it contains a lot of useful items. In particular, the torpedo comes in for extra detailing and the fore and aft guide hooks (remember to add a tail skid in place of the tail wheel if using this option) are included. Seat belts are included but one should omit the shoulder harness as US Navy aircraft didn't come equipped with those until 1942. All in all a very useful addition.