The Martin T4M-1 and Plus Models

September 3, 2022 · in Aviation · · 6 Comments

This article is both a review and commentary on the new Plus Models 1/72 . 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.

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.

The wheels rapidly received covers but the tailskids persisted into 1930. The fore and aft hooks seem to have been removed in late 1929. So an early T4M-1 requires some modification.

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

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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)

which is not appropriate for the Saratoga example. It also doesn't fit the chosen Lexington examples either. These are purportedly from 1929 and 1933. The dateable 1929 photos I have been able to locate all show tail skids not tail wheels. The US Navy did mandate the move to tailwheels in May 1929 but it is not certain that it had happened by the end of the year for all aircraft. There is a serious issue with the 1933 VT-1B option. VT-1B changed aircraft in June 1932 to Martin BM-1s so the scheme is difficult to place historically. A final note on tail colours. All of Plus Models schemes for VT-1B show yellow tails. This was the later colour for Lexington's air group but before that squadrons had their own colours based on their home base. Both VT-1B and VT-2B had red tails initially with orange yellow tailplane upper surfaces (the rudder and fin only being red). Later the whole tail was painted red not yellow which applied to VT-1B as well as VT-2B . The T4Ms started out in overall aluminium and only later had metal parts painted grey (in 1929) .

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.


6 responses

  1. Yet another superbly researched article, Christopher! Thanks for sharing all this valuable information!

  2. Thanks for saving me the money, Christopher.

  3. Absolutely valuable, Christopher @christopher
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the kind comments everyone. I've just assembled the engine (which looks quite good) and added the oil sump (that came from an old Matchbox engine) and individual exhaust pipes for each cylinder.

  5. Thanks, Christopher. I purchased one of these about a month ago and plan on building it soon.

  6. Enjoy the build but watch out for the roundels.

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