Sword's 1/72 Beechcraft
T-34C "Turbo Mentor"

By Norm Filer

The modeling world is not populated by an overabundance of trainer kits. When a new one comes along it usually fills a long overdue space on the modeler's shelf, and hopefully even on a few display shelves. Why we are not more attracted to trainers is best left to those with more insight than I have, but it probably has something to do with "less glamorous" or something. Another of the gaps has finally been filled!

In any event, when this kit arrived on my desk, several long dormant but far from dead mental color schemes started slowly swimming to the surface of an already overcrowded brain. The white/gold/blue one from TAW-9 for the Navy's 50 Anniversary of Naval Aviation, the various test schemes used to establish a new trainer scheme, the unusual U. S. Army birds. Though not my usual choice, several foreigners came to mind as well.

Wow!! I could use several of these things!!


With so little on the T-34 available out there, I decided to write up a concise history of the whole series. Rather than fill up this review, you can read that complete history by clicking on this link.

The Kit

The first impressions when opening the kit are "Wow!!" This thing is small! There is one light gray tree, about seven inches square, two resin parts and an injection molded canopy. The Injection molded parts have the usual somewhat thick sprues, but very little flash and the parts are very nicely done. Recessed panel lines everywhere and nice detail. The unique grooves on the T-34 control surfaces are well represented by fine recessed lines. They look like corrugated material like the Ford Trimotor or JU-52 in photographs, but are actually just what they look like on the model-grooves.

The two resin parts are the nose wheel well (??) and a complete cockpit tub. Yep, that's right. A complete cockpit tub. Floor, side consoles, rudder pedals, seats, control sticks, the whole works in one casting. All that needs to be added are the two instrument panels. This single casting may be the highlight of the whole kit. It all looks properly proportioned and delicate.

Two things are quickly apparent. Getting this to sit on its nose gear will be impossible, and you will need to do something imaginative with both the prop and those very noticeable exhaust pipes. The first is not news to those of us who have built the neat little Hasegawa T-34 kit. There is just not enough room to stuff lead in the nose, and if you used depleted uranium or something, the gear would collapse. Only solution here is to glue the finished product to a small square of clear material.

The second item is equally challenging. The prop is one of the two really poor parts in the kit. When parked, most turboprops appear to be feathered, and look most odd. The kit prop is molded in a more "normal" pitched attitude. The one in this kit looks like some small bugs chewed on one blade. It may be salvageable, but will be interesting.

The exhaust pipes are each two small parts that have pretty much the right external shape but are not hollow, nor convincing. A bit of effort will be required here too.

The real fumble on this play is the canopy. It is injection molded, and appears at first to be overly simple. No frames to speak of and cloudy. When compared to photos it starts to look a bit better in shape. Typical of light planes, the front windshield is one piece, with no frames. The rear portion is also a one part bubble. Perhaps a bit of work with the polishing materials and maybe a coat or two of Future will make it work.

The decals, like the kit in general, give an initial impression of being overly simple. Again like the kit, there really isn't a whole lot required. What is needed is there and they are quite nice. Markings are provided for a tiger mouthed (again??) white and orange bird from Training Wing Five, based at Pensacola, and an Argentine bird of perhaps blue, sand, and light green?


Sword has provided us with another neat kit. It appears to be very buildable, with a bit of effort here and there. If you ever wanted to expand your trainer collection with some colorful examples, this may just tickle your "build me" button.

The poor instructions make it a bit of a crap shoot in places, and the foggy canopy and inability to sit on the nose gear will be challenging, but all in all a very welcome kit.

Now where is my replacement for the aging and somewhat inaccurate Heller T-28??

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