1/48 Czech Model T-34C Turbo Mentor

Gallery Article by Ardi Indratmo on May 20  2009

 

Indonesian Air Force acquired their T-34C between 1979-1981 to replace the older A model. A total of 25 ex- US Navy Turbo Mentors were acquired and went straight to 102nd Training Squadron based in Adisutjipto AFB. Most of the Charlie (as they passionately referred to) are still in good shape and still flying today.

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The box contains 3 different mediums, injection molding, resin and vacuform plastic.

 

Assembly began with the resin cockpit. The detail of the cockpit resin supplied by True Details is very good. Also other parts namely the wheels, rockets, pylons and pilot's seats.

 

The fit of the plastic parts is poor. There were no guiding pins to assist the alignment of both fuselage halves. After wet sanding and dry fitting the cockpit tub to the fuselage numerous times, finally the cockpit is glued in place.  Care must be taken when inserting weight into the nose area. I put about 7 or 10 steel BB's into the nose area and that was enough to prevent a tail-sitter. I suggest putting more than 10 just to be safe.

 

Fuselage halves are glued in place with two-part epoxy, superglue and lots of rubber bands. The joined fuselage was left to dry for several days. Wings, vertical and horizontal stabilizers were glued soon after. Lots of sanding was required to make a smooth blending between the wings and the fuselage.

 

With all the main body assembly completed, then came the next challenge : the Canopy. The plastic is made of vacuformed Plastic, and that proved somehow a challenge for me being a novice modeler. It is too hard to cut with a regular scissors and too soft for a small saw. Good thing Czech Model gave a spare canopy just incase we damaged the first one. Thank Goodness I managed to cut the canopy from its casting block without a scratch.

 

Painting comes next. After masking the canopy frame, the model was sprayed with Tamiya Primer and given a base color of Gunze Sangyo H-73 Light Gray. Yellow Training Stripes airbrushed with RLM04 Yellow, after a base spray of Gloss White. The Training Stripes were airbrushed onto the outer part of the wings, vertical stabilizer and spinner. After the painting process was completed, the model was given a generous amount of glosscoat lacquer to protect the paint job and to prepare the model for decal application. The model was left about a week for the paint to dry completely.

 

 

Finally came the most difficult part : Decals. Since the beginning I intended to build an Indonesian Air Force Turbo Mentor.  As I and hundreds of Indonesian Modeler found out, there are NO aftermarket decals out there for the Indonesian T-34C. So I decided to make a custom, handmade, the first, the one and only Indonesian Air Force T-34C belonging to the 102nd Training Squadron using my trusty Canon IP-4500 Inkjet printer.

 

With a plain white decal paper for the National insignia, the distinctive Red-capped yellow bird emblem of the 102nd Training Sqn., and a transparent decal paper for the serial number, the decals were drawn freehand with a photo editing software, printed and sprayed with glosscote lacquer for added protection.

 

After several trial and errors, all the homemade decals were applied with very little effort. The Decal Paper quality was so good that they conformed to the complex surfaces of the plane without any decal softener. Lovely!

 

And finally, overall, despite of its shortcomings, this is quite a good kit and captures the outline of the real Mentor.  The tail-heavy look of the real thing can be simulated on the model when you put a little extra effort working on the nose wheel area and the nose gear strut as I did.  

This kit as I found out is not for a short tempered modeler and not for the faint hearted one. I almost threw this model out of the window several times during assembly mostly due to my own recklessness.

 

But once completed, it's a sight to behold (at least for me).

And my Wife said it's one of my best (and she's a very blunt Critic). Thanks Dear, coming from you that means a lot : )

 

I dedicate this model to all Indonesian Air Force Pilots. Keep 'em Flying Boys!.

 

Greetings from Jakarta, Indonesia

Ardi Indratmo

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Photos and text by Ardi Indratmo