Wolfpack 1/48 T-38A Talon 'USAF'
By Gary Meinert
Northrop's N-156 lightweight fighter concept of the 1950s proved to be a great success. This design was the genesis of the F-5 family of fighters and the T-38 trainer. Since entering service in 1961, the T-38 has trained generations of pilots. The T-38 provides the supersonic, high-performance training experience, yet is economical to operate and maintain.
The USAF Air Training Command (now Air Education and Training Command) is the principal T-38 operator, but other USAF commands have also used the aircraft. The T-38 has served with the U.S. Navy, NASA, Portugal, Turkey, Taiwan, and South Korea. German-owned T-38s based in the U.S. (along with USAF T-38s) have trained many NATO pilots over the years.
A series of upgrades including the Pacer Classic structural modification programs, avionics update program, propulsion modernization program, and others have kept the T-38 at the top of its game. Many years of service are still ahead for the T-38, because budget pressures and other higher priority programs have delayed any plans for a successor.
The kit is conventional in design, with left and right fuselage halves that enclose the cockpit tub and nose wheel well. Two more large pieces attach to the bottom of the fuselage. Side air intakes, wings, tail, and engine nozzle sub-assemblies all complete the basic airframe.
The parts are molded in gray plastic with a few minor sink marks noted on the intake lips and the outer surface of the speed brakes. The inner surfaces of the speed brakes and air intakes have ejector pin marks that will have to be filled. The recessed surface detail is well done and is typical of the kind of detail we expect to see in current aircraft kits. No photo-etched parts are in the kit, but a masking sheet for canopy and wheels is provided.
The cockpit has all the necessary components and features raised console and instrument panel detail. The seats lack any belts or harnesses. There are alternate hinge parts for the canopies in the raised or lowered position. Speaking of the cockpit, note that this kit is the T-38A only; it cannot be built as the T-38C with the newer "glass cockpit" instrument panels and head-up display.
The kit contains some parts labeled "not for use," such as alternate wheels, and these clearly indicate other variants to come. In fact, the Wolfpack website has already listed a NASA T-38A and a RoKAF T-38A.
The excellent instructions have a parts map and exploded diagrams. There are several small color photos of details of the real aircraft--sort of a mini walk-around. Color callouts are in Federal Standard paint numbers and for Mr. Color hobby paints. The painting and decal marking guides are in full color for each of the three color schemes.
- Two gloss white aircraft from Edwards AFB, 412th Test Wing
- One dark gray aircraft from Whiteman AFB, 509th Bomb Wing
- Two gloss black aircraft from Beale AFB, 9th Reconnaissance Wing
My initial reaction is that I like what I see in the box, and I think that this is an impressive first aircraft kit from Wolfpack. I look forward to more model subjects from this company. Thanks to Model Rectifier Corporation and Internet Modeler for the review sample.