Hasegawa 1/48 Kawasaki T-4
The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) employed the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star and the Mitsubishi F-1/T-2 in the intermediate training role. In 1981, the Japanese government authorized the development and acquisition of a new intermediate trainer to replace the T-33 and F-1/T-2. Not surprisingly, Mitsubishi (designer of the F-1/T-2) Fuji (designer of the T-1) and Kawasaki submitted bids for the program. The Kawasaki proposal was approved and the Kawasaki T-4 first flew in July 1985. The first production aircraft subsequently entered service in 1989.
Developed in the same class of trainer as the British Aerospace Hawk, the Dassault/Dornier Alphajet and the Aero L-39, the T-4 is far more advanced over its peers. The T-4 is powered by two IHHI F3 engines producing 1600 kg of thrust each, giving the T-4 a similar dry thrust-to-weight ratio as the F-15 Eagle.
What do you get when you combine a world-class model company, a popular modeling subject and local access to reference and design materials? You get the Hasegawa 1/48 Kawasaki T-4! I haven't seen such an intricate kit from Hasegawa since they debuted their 1/48 FA-18 Hornet series. Molded in light grey plastic (not counting the perfectly clear transparencies), the T-4 features finely scribed details, no flash, and only a few ejector pin marks in visible locations. Given the size of the kit, I think the Hasegawa engineers did a phenomenal job!
First, let me share with you my first impressions when I opened this box: there are nine parts trees in there! The kit is comprised of 117 parts, of which only one very tiny part is not used in the basic T-4. Why does it take so many parts to build a simple trainer? Let's run through it:
The ejection seats are eight pieces each. The kit also includes two pilot figures. On the other hand, the cockpit tub is rather simple, using decals for side consoles and the two instrument panels. As with most Hasegawa jet cockpits, there are no throttles included.
Each of the intakes is a six-piece affair that provides ducting all the way down to the engine face. When was the last time you saw intake ducts on a trainer model? Likewise, each of the exhaust ducts are four-piece assemblies that run up to the turbine blades.
The wings feature positionable Fowler flaps and optional pylons for external fuel tanks (included). The wing stubs that insert into the fuselage dovetail with the other wing stub, providing a very solid mechanical joint and a goof-proof wing anhedral. The horizontal stabs are also positionable.
What is especially interesting about this kit is the landing gear. The kit provides a number of poly caps that are inserted in the fuselage at the nosegear and maingear mounts. The landing gear is then glued into the poly caps, which appear to give the model a bit of 'shock absorbing' when the model is repeatedly picked up and set back down (by pesky admirers). It appears to be a very ingenious design - I can't wait to try it!
The canopies round out the assembly and include the inter-cockpit windshield which protects the rear occupant should the forward windscreen shatter from a bird strike. My engineering excellence hat comes off to the chap that designed the canopy tree. The sprues that hold the canopies are also shaped into a roll cage that prevents any of the other trees from coming in contact with the canopy and windscreen. Of course after all of that designing, they put the transparencies into their own protective bag. If they adopt this technique in all of their future releases, you'll never see another scratched canopy come out of the box. Well done Hasegawa!
About these decals. To look at this decal sheet, I am reminded of the sheet from the Accurate Miniatures F3F-1 kit, where markings are provided for EVERY F3F-1 that existed. The same is almost true here as well. I think that every training squadron is represented on this sheet, and the numbers are set up so that you can do any serial number. The only T-4s NOT represented here are the Blue Impulse machines (a separate T-4 kit release) and any of the special markings aircraft. Nonetheless, you know this decal sheet means business when the kit box is sized for the decal sheet, not the kit! The kit parts will actually fit into a box roughly a quarter of the length and half the width of this box.
This kit appears to be one of their (add glue, close box and shake) models that will almost build itself. It is quite evident that this subject is a favorite of somebody at Hasegawa. This kit is absolutely the most detailed trainer kit on the planet, and rivals many of the current generation of fighter kits as well. While adorned with beautiful ejection seats, the cockpit tub could benefit from a little more detailing, but hey, we're modelers, right?
I would recommend this kit to anyone, and in fact I would encourage you to try one. If this is a sign of what the state of the art will be in other future releases from Hasegawa, we are in for a great time!
My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!