Naval T-Birds

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Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Base Kit
Hobbycraft T-33
Company: Iliad Design - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Iliad Design - Website: Visit Site
Decal Package

I have to respect Iliad Design in Canada, which does not follow the convention of releasing decals just for kits new out on the market, but instead releases subjects off the beaten path. This latest release is a series of markings for the US Navy’s version of the T-33, the TO-2/TV-2. The T-33 was an initiative by Lockheed to develop a trainer from its P-80 fighter. Debuted in 1948, the T-33 was immediately bought by the US Air Force and proved to be iconic aircraft which still soldiers on today in many Air Forces. The Navy, which had acquired the P-80 (Navy designation TO-1) for evaluation, also had a need for two-seat jet trainer and acquired 650 of the planes by way of the US Air Force. In Naval service it was at first designated the TO-2 and later the TV-2. The T-33/TV-2 is a forgiving and stable platform and the Navy soon pushed these two-seaters into other roles such as drone aircraft controllers and chase aircraft for test and evaluation programs. Unfortunately there has been a paucity of decals for the Navy TO-1 and TV-2 with the only previous sheet I am aware of being an old Microscale sheet for the TO-1.

This release by Iliad Design provides markings for 4 Navy and Marine TV-2s, two reserve squadron trainers, a USMC trainer and a chase plane. The breakdown is as follows:

  • An early US Naval Reserves TV-2 in natural metal, assigned to NAS Glenview outside Chicago
  • A TV-2 assigned to Guided Missile Group One (GMGRU-1) at NAS Point Mugu (north of Los Angeles) in 1959 for the Regulus Missile program. The aircraft is in the drone controller colors of Engine Gray fuselage, yellow wings and stabilizers with orange bands on the wings
  • A later TV-2 (re-designated T-33B in 1962) in overall gray assigned to NAS Glynco 1974 (Glynco was an abbreviation of Glynn County, Georgia)
  • A USMC TV-2 assigned to MCAS El Toro south of Los Angeles. The aircraft is in the training colors of white and Fluorescent Red-Orange.

The sheet provides all of the markings specific to these aircraft and one set of common stencils such as national insignia and warning markings. Thought it is shown in the drawings the sheet does not provide the red warning stripe for the aft fuselage. All of the markings were glossy, crisply printed and in register. All marking are built up, no need for a modeler to layer colors. The whites are very white and appear opaque.

I used this sheet as motivation to finish a Hobbycraft T-33 I had partially assembled on the shelf-of-doom. My original plan was to build it as a Yugoslav T-33, but the drone controller markings were too colorful to pass up! This is not a scheme for those who do not like to mask and paint. I found the painting instructions to be very complete, the only issue I had was with the color of the rudder. The instructions do not mention the rudder, but the drone control scheme calls for an Insignia Orange rudder. While I could not find a picture of this specific aircraft, I found another aircraft from the squadron and its rudder was orange so that is what I did. Also, not mentioned in the instructions are the configuration unique to the drone controller – a blade antenna forward of the windscreen and a pitot tube under the nose, both found in pictures of TV-2 drone control aircraft.

Once I completed the remaining assembly, I masked the wheel well and cockpit and laid down a base of Tamiya white primer to check seams. I used Model Master enamel paints to replicate the drone control scheme. I sprayed Insignia Yellow on the wings, wing tanks and stabilizers followed by an over-coat with the Gloss Chrome Yellow. After letting it dry for several days, I masked and sprayed the fuselage Engine Gray. Next I sprayed the Insignia Orange bands and the rudder. I then sprayed the flat black anti-glare panels, the radomes and the leading edges with silver Corroguard protection.

Application of the decals went extremely well with no issues. The Hobbycraft/Academy T-33 kit is the only 1/48 kit on the market and I found that these decals were sized perfectly for this kit. I found the decals to be thin but resilient and easy to work. The decals settled down into panel lines and the carrier film disappeared with MicroSol setting solution. The whites are very bright, opaque, and did not have problems over darker colors. If one color had an issue, it was the red, which looks a bit dark on the Engine Gray, but it is a minor quibble. I do need to source a warning stripe and apply non-skid on the wing walkways before finishing the model.

My thanks to Iliad Design for not only an interesting sheet, but trouble free decals. This sheet is a must have for anyone with an interest in US Navy 1950s and 1960s aviation and provides colorful alternatives for an iconic airframe. Get this sheet while you can!


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