T-6 Times Two: 1/144 Texan Twins Tackle Tiny Training
By Matt Bittner
Truly, the T-6 Texan needs no introduction. One of the best known and most mass produced U.S. trainer it has not only served with multiple countries but was also "converted" into a WW2 Zero to fly in movies.
Who would have thought that not only would we have a 1/144 T-6 but that two injected-plastic producers would create kits at the same time. It's becoming a good time to be a 1/144 modeler!
The Platz 1/144 T-6 consists of 20 pieces of grey, injected plastic, two clear plastic canopies and one display stand. There are decals for seven JASDF and JMSDF Texans, most "trainer yellow" with some left natural metal. Decals are very well done, printed by Cartograf, and appear to be in register.
Construction begins with first painting the sides of the fuselage interior followed by gluing the fuselage halves together. Once the one-piece cockpit is painted it's added to the one-piece wing and the wing glued to the fuselage. Next add the horizontal tail pieces (one per side) and if the fit is good (which I think it should be) you could probably leave the cowl and engine off until the very end, allowing the cowl to be painted separate without having to mask the engine. You'll need to decide which canopy to use but once its masked it can be added to the model prior to painting as well. The final construction steps deal with the landing gear; after you decide if you want them "up" or "down" then use the correct pieces for that depiction.
The Valom 1/144 T-6 consists of 15 pieces of grey, injected plastic, one clear plastic canopy and four pieces of resin (all antennas). There are decals for four aircraft, all in some sort of "yellow" (but all a different shade):
- T-6G, No. 51-5032, E.E.P. France, France de l' Air, Cognac, 1963
- ATC U.S. Air Force, USA, Texas, 1967
- Tel Aviv (-Jalfa), Israel, June 2003
- Berlin - Gatow, Deutschland, April 2004
Construction of the Valom kit is different than the Platz. You'll need to assemble and paint the cockpit (the instrument panels are separate and the instructions show how to construct control sticks for both seats) and install it into one fuselage half. In addition, since the cowl is molded with the fuselage you'll have to paint and add the engine before the fuselage halves are assembled. Once everything is in then the fuselage halves can be glued together. Once together you'll add the separate one-piece horizontal tail and the separate rudder/fin. Next add the one-piece wing and masked canopy, and once you decide which resin antenna to use make the holes for those and add after painting. Adding the landing gear again is the last step in the instructions and best left until after painting; however, out-of-the-box the landing gear is meant to be lowered with no separate parts to have them "up".
Comparing the Kits
Believe it or not there are advantages to both kits. Yes, the Platz kit is definitely more refined and in "scale" (the wing's trailing edges are really nicely done, as are the panel lines) but the Valom kit does not have a hole in the bottom for a stand (if you don't want to display the Platz kit on the supplied stand you'll want to fill in the hole for the stand) and the canopy doesn't have large mounting pegs. So, as a list:
- Too-scale trailing edges
- Nicely defined panel lines
- Clearer canopy
- Separate parts for gear-up or gear-down
- Separate cowl
- Better cockpit (seats!)
- Different types of canopies
- Because the Platz kit is the same as F-toys, fit is probably excellent
- More aircraft marking options, although they're all Japanese
- Hole in the underside for the stand that needs to be filled if not displaying on the stand
- Large mounting pegs on the canopy
- Molded-on wing pitot tube (thick for the scale)
- Only Japanese markings
- Canopy without large mounting pegs
- Instrument panels for the cockpit
- Dimensions for creating control sticks
- Dimensions for creating a more too-scale wing pitot
- Different types of antenna
- Not all one country for marking options
- Less expensive (you can pick up four Valom T-6s (two boxes) for the price of one box of Platz T-6s)
- Not as "fine" (scale-wise)
- Not as "easy" for displaying the model landing gear up
- Cowl part of the fuselage
- Thicker canopy and only one "type"
- On my kit, the one-piece cockpit did not have any seat-backs, although the instructions show the one-piece cockpit having entire seats
If you want to build just two T-6s and don't mind the cost (I've seen the MSRP being around US$40) the Platz kit is probably the way to go. If you're building these to a high-level then there is work involved in carefully removing the canopy-mounting pegs and filling in the hole on the underside for the stand. If you want to build more than two T-6s – or don't want to spend the money – then the Valom kit is the obvious choice because of the price. There may be a little more work in terms of fit, but as I mentioned you can have upwards of four Valom T-6s for the price of two Platz models. Plus, I think it will be easier to find the Valom kit and they'll be around longer than the Platz kit. Not because of one's being worse than the other, just because Platz production runs aren't very high and these will probably be big hits in the Japanese market. The other big selling point to Valom is I would be surprised if Brengun doesn't release aftermarket for the home-country Valom kit versus the Japanese-produced Platz kit. I'm hoping that's true because I will need to find seats to add to my Valom kits. Or maybe RetrokiT will release resin for it as well.
I'm also hoping for a lot of aftermarket decals from the likes of JBr Decals, etc. There are enough Texans out there the markings could be quite extensive, keeping us building 1/144 T-6s for quite a long time.
Two mentions of "thanks" needed: first to Kits-Shop for sending the Valom set to review, and second to Platz for their Texans. Now, go buy these kits and pester your friendly, aftermarket decal producer to start making Texan decals!