High Planes' 1:72 Ryan STM/PT-20 Basic Trainer
The PT-20 was one of the sub-variants of Ryan's successful S-T family of trainers, which included the S-T-A, A-T-A Special, STM, STM-S2, STM-2E/P, CTM-2, ST-3, ST-3KR, XPT-16, YPT-16, PT-21, PT-22, and NR-1. The radial-engined PT-22 Recruit was the most widely used, with 1023 built, but the PT-20, with just 30 examples ordered, blazed the trail.
With one foot in the golden age of aviation, The PT-20 was a product of 1940 and the USAACís halting progress toward becoming a modern air force; powered by a Menasco L-365-1 inline engine, it provided the USAAC with its first monoplane basic trainer. 27 PT-20As (with Kinner R-440 radials) and three PT-20Bs (with a Menasco D4) were also accepted by the Air Corps.
The STM was developed as an inexpensive single-seat fighter, and was exported to some South American countries. The Netherlands East Indies flew the plane in the guise of the CTM as a landplane and the STM-S2 as a floatplane.
High Planes' kit of this classic plane prompted your reviewer's wife to immediately call it cute. The kit has 14 injection-molded pieces, with a white-metal tail wheel and two vacuformed windscreens. With an overall length of three and a half inches and a wingspan of five inches, this is a petite model.
The interior is basic, with a pair of seats and a pair of control panels mounting on a very simple floor. All of these have rather soft detail and the modeler might want to add a bit of additional detail. The kit instructions are helpful in providing tips for detailing, like the rollover post that protrudes through the windscreen. The propeller/spinner is a mess of flash and might prove difficult to clean up.
There's flash elsewhere, but it's not as heavy or as hard to get to as on the propeller. The surface detail on the fuselage is quite good, and the one-piece wing will need just a little sanding to make it ready for assembly. The wheels and wheel pants are molded in halves, and they mount to the bottom of the wing; take care here since there are no mounting points to guide you.
The wing also includes mounting points for the bracing wires; this plane is braced in four places on the tail and in two places on the top and bottom of each wing, plus four locations between the landing gear. A fuselage-to-wing strut graces each upper wing as well. If you've never rigged a model before, this might make a good trainer - you can employ biplane rigging techniques here without that pesky second wing getting in the way!
The decals are just stunning. Included are a silver and yellow PT-20 from the USAAC, two silver Dutch CTMs with the large orange triangle insignia, and a mid-war Australian CTM in a foliage green/earth brown over yellow trainer scheme. There are no kill markings or nose art depicted on the sheet - naturally - but you do get precisely-printed decals in vivid colors.
This Ryan may not be the item for modelers looking to make the jump into their first short-run model, but for those who feel affection for the golden age or who want to kick their skills up a notch, the PT-20 seems like just the thing. Despite the shortcomings of the propeller, It is a very solidly done kit that should yield a very colorful result.
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