Cessna is best known for its civilian small aircraft, but they too have had their military planes. One of the more widely used types was the T-50 Bobcat, better known as the Bamboo Bomber.
The T-50 started life as a simple twin-engined civilian plane capable of seating five, but with the outbreak of the Second World War the T-50 quickly found its way into service with both the Army and the Navy of the United States, as well as the RCAF and Great Britain. The great handling characteristics of the T-50 made it an excellent plane for training pilots on twin-engined types, and its spacious interior made it a great squadron 'hack' for transporting people around. This can be seen by the fact that nearly 5500 T-50s rolled off the assembly lines, and many of those are still flying around the world today.
It is very surprising that a kit of the T-50 hasn't been released to date in injection form, considering how many were made and how many pilots received their training in them. Luckily Pavla has taken care of this oversight with their release of an excellent 1/72 kit of the T-50 Bobcat. This kit is a mixed media short-run injection kit, with brass and resin details and a vacuform canopy.
The plastic parts are molded quite well, and look about as good as a Heller or Airfix kit. They may not be up to par with the ultra-fine moldings from Japan, but they definitely don't look like short-run technology either. The parts breakdown is typical for a plane of this configuration, and the one-piece lower wing will help greatly in keeping the proper dihedral.
The resin parts are confined to a pair of crisply molded engines that will look quite nice sitting in their cowls. The brass parts detail out the interior very nicely, with a pair of rather complicated-looking seats made up of two pieces and lots of folding. An instrument panel with attached rudder pedals is included, along with the requisite instrument sheet. Rather than printing it on acetate, though, Pavla has this printed on a coated paper stock. The dial faces are just as crisp as the acetate examples, but now you don't have to paint the back white. I'm torn on this method, as the acetate method allows you to paint different colors on the instruments for added detail, but with the tightly closed cockpit that really wouldn't be visible anyway.
The vacuform canopy is well done and includes both the main canopy and the cabin side windows. Only one canopy is provided, so be careful when cutting it out and fitting it in place.
The finishing touch to this great kit are the decals, and there are several interesting choices to choose from. If you're one of those guys who builds nothing but USAAC stuff, an OD and gray UC-78 is offered, with the standard yellow outlined star and roundel. If you're wanting something a little more colorful, but still want to do a US Cessna, the Navy comes to the rescue with a JRC-1 from NAS Pensacola. This one is silver overall, with orange-yellow cowls and fuselage stripe. Definitely prettier than OD and gray. But if you want some REAL color, your only choice is to go north to Canada. The third decal option is for an RCAF Crane Mk.1 painted yellow overall, with big red, white, and blue roundels and fin flashes. There is no missing this plane, which, since it was used for pilot training, probably was a good thing.
The Pavla kit of the Cessna T-50 Bobcat is a very welcome one, even more so once you open the box. This is a well done kit of a popular plane, and if you want a little variety on your shelf, pick one up.