Special Hobby 1/72 BT-9/NJ-1

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview (From Instructions)

In 1935, the US Army Air Force issued a design competition for a basic trainer aircraft. The aircraft chosen was the North American Aviation's last prototype of their NA-16 design, produced at the General Aviation plant in Dundalk, Maryland. The first production model, also known as the NA-19, first flew at Inglewood, California in April 1936, powered by the Wright R-975 "Whirlwind" engine. After minor adaptations in served in the US Army Air Corps as the BT-9 "Yale," with 226 being produced. The US Navy ordered 40, fitted with a P&W R-1340 engine, and renamed it NJ-1. A later version with an all-metal skinned fuselage was known as the BT-14, which in turn gave rise to the famous AT-6 "Texan" or "Harvard." All three types were similar in appearance, but the BT-9 and BT-14 had fixed undercarriage. The NA-16 was also manufactured under license in Sweden, under the designation SK 14.

The Kit

This kit is a re-release of an earlier Azur edition of the North American BT-9 kit, but this time the model comes with an additional sprue with updated parts. As this is an older kit, the quality is not the same as current Special Hobby releases, but it is still decent. The original sprue has some flash, while the new sprue, molded in a darker gray, is crisper. In addition to the plastic parts, the kit comes with a handful of resin details, two vacuformed canopies, and a decent decal sheet.

The interior is the logical starting point, and this kit provides a rudimentary starting point rather than a detailed assembly. A floor, two seats, and two control sticks make up the majority of the interior, with separate instrument panels, center posts and rear shelf finishing it off. This is one area that would really benefit from some additional detail, as the large canopy will show off quite a bit. Since this plane is part of the T-6 family, details designed for a T-6 should help.

Once the fuselage is together, the next step is the wings. Here is the first use of the new parts, as the instructions have you remove the outer wingtips and replace them with more rounded examples. The wing has a one-piece lower section and separate right and left upper sections, ensuring proper dihedral. The fin and stabilizers are also provided as new parts, with much more pronounced corrugations.

The new parts include a new cowling which is specific to the NJ-1 aircraft. The other examples will use the existing cowling. Only one engine is included, though, so some research will be needed to see just how different the included engine is from the Wright or Pratt engine carried by the real aircraft. The landing gear also has many variations, all of which are included. This includes two styles of wheels and tires and three styles of strut/strut fairing assemblies. The final option is for the BT-9 and are the wing slats, giving this version a different look than the others.

The decal sheet provides markings for three aircraft. The first is a BT-9 from the 46th School Squadron in 1941. Finished in standard trainer colors, this plane has a blue fuselage with yellow flying surfaces and is the plane depicted on the boxtop. The second option is an NJ-1 from the US Navy in 1940. This plane has a silver fuselage with yellow wings. The plane has a red cowling, tail surfaces, fuselage stripe and wing stripes, making it a very colorful aircraft. The final option is a Swedish Sk 14 from Flygflottilj 5. This plane has a dark green fuselage with orange-yellow wings and stabilizers. The decals are decent, although the Swedish roundels have the wrong shade of blue and incorrectly shaped crowns.

Conclusion

This is a decent kit and with some extra effort could result in a very nice model. The interior in particular needs some extra detailing, but even out of the box this will build into a representation of an important trainer.

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