Even though Kitty Hawk Model released its big and beautiful T-28B-D Trojan back in 2016, I was thrilled to see it come up on the review list recently. No doubt the company is preparing for the release of the new ‘C’ version (with a tail hook), due out any time now. Either way, the big 1/32nd scale T-28 is sure to please.
And pleasing it is – the smart, clean lines of the venerable trainer are beautifully captured in this multi-media kit. Among the options offered are two types of propeller blades, three types of wheels, and a huge variety of underwing stores should you decide to arm your Trojan. In addition, the engine bay can be exposed on one or both sides with cowl flaps that are detailed inside and out.
The thin, three-piece canopy is crystal clear and there are two large weights provided that are inserted just behind the engine firewall to (help) stand this big boy up on its tricycle landing gear.
The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan is a piston-engine, military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy beginning in the 1950s. Besides its use as a trainer, the T-28 was successfully employed as a counter-insurgency aircraft, primarily during the Vietnam War. It has continued in civilian use as an aerobatics and Warbird performer.
After becoming adopted as a primary trainer by the USAF, the United States Navy and Marine Corps adopted it as well. Although the Air Force phased out the aircraft from primary pilot training by the early 1960s, the aircraft continued to be used as a primary trainer by the Navy (and by default, the Marine Corps and Coast Guard) well into the early 1980s.
The largest single concentration of this aircraft was employed by the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, in the training of student naval aviators. The last U.S. Navy training squadron to fly the T-28 was VT-27 “Boomers”, based at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, flying the last T-28 training flight in early 1984. Many retired T-28s were subsequently sold to private civil operators, and due to their reasonable operating costs are often found flying or displayed as warbirds today.
Opening the Box
The large, sturdy box contains six sprues of grey plastic with minor to moderate flash on many of the parts, especially the small ones, requiring careful cleaning in order to fit.
The two weights for the nose are wrapped in bubble wrap, and there is a separate cardboard box containing the clear sprue
- 6 sprues in soft, light grey plastic, packaged in separate bags
- 1 sprue of clear parts
- 1 small photo-etch sheet, including seat belts.
- 1 24-page B&W and Color instruction booklet with 34 steps
- 2 rectangular steel blocks for nose weight
The kit comes with no less than seven finishing schemes, represented using beautiful, large color four-view drawings, and two sheets of perfectly registered decals. The schemes provided consist of:
- T-28B, NX82AW, VT-6 (Standard orange and white Navy markings)
- T-28D, 15th Strike Squadron, Philippines Air Force, 1975 (Overall light grey)
- T-28B, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, 1965 (Overall light grey)
- T-28B, Thailand Air Force, Tango Squadron (Overall light grey)
- T-28B, VH-ZUC 91576TL (cn 174-429) ‘Just Dreamin’ (Yellow. Red, and Grey)
- T-28D, French Air Force (Overall light grey)
- T-28D, “Zorro’s Mistress” (NX766NA, 51-3766AH) (View Nam USAF tri-color)
Curiously, Kitty Hawk chose to combine the glossy color paint and decal diagrams with the black and white instructions in a single, stapled booklet, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to ease of use. The first four steps of the instructions and the parts map are on the backs of the fold-out color diagrams, with Steps 5 through 34 following, contained on normal, black and white paper. Needless to say, I recommend doing what I did, lose the staples, cut the pages apart at the seam, and re-staple the pages into two documents; one for assembly, one for painting and decaling.
The Parts map is complete, but you’ll need your Optivisor to see the part numbers. Several parts are numbered incorrectly (E55, 56, 57, A10) and have been noted below.
Things to Consider Before Building
The T-28 sits on a relatively compact tricycle landing gear that is prone to tip backwards, becoming a tail-sitter if not weighted properly. To their credit, Kitty Hawk provides two large, rectangular weights that fit into purposely-molded recesses in the fuselage sides, just behind the engine firewall…. but too far behind to do the job, unfortunately.
Since I left one half of the engine exposed, I was able to drop in weight at the very end of the build to tip the plane back up on its gear. If you close up the engine, you will have to add weight earlier. I ended up adding 11 (Size 5 (2.54 gram)) Water Gremlin split shot fishing weights, for a total of about 28 grams (1 oz.), just behind and below the engine.
The decals provided in the kit represent the ubiquitous orange and white Navy trainer and the Viet Nam era tri-color schemes, as well as five unusual foreign and warbird schemes. All of these have different approaches to stencils and numbering layouts. I would have liked to have seen a standard, US Navy go-by showing the use and proper placement of the many stencils provided.
Kitty Hawk includes several build options for the modeler, so some up-front decision making is in order. A wide variety of underwing stores are included for various versions of the aircraft. If you decide to leave these off (as I did) you will need to fill the 17 pre-drilled holes under the two wings and port side wing root.
There are three types of nose gear tires, two types of propeller blades, as well as position-able vent and access doors to the engine and exhaust manifolds.
A lot is included in the kit, but trailing static discharge wicks are not – you’ll have to add those to the ailerons, elevators and the rudder if you want them on the aircraft.
All Things Up Front
The first eight steps of the build bring together the cockpit tub, the front gear well, and the engine compartment, which all connect into a single piece that is sandwiched between the two fuselage halves. Since there is complete access to the front wheel well throughout the build, I left the front gear strut off until the end.
Also, since I didn’t relish hand-painting and futzing with a hundred parts individually, I created three sticky boards of parts to be painted one of three color groupings: blacks, greens and greys. Doing so allowed me to build and finish the entire assembly (cockpit, gear well, and engine) as one.
The T-28 cockpit will be, by all measures, the focal point of the aircraft; big, busy and right up on top. Kitty Hawk provides a lot of detail to start, including PE seatbelts and relief-consoles, but it will need some careful painting and TLC to make everything pop. The seat belts alone are made up of 40 photo-etch parts. To save yourself some grief, I suggest that you do some test fitting here, since about half of the PE is not visible after the seats are set in the cockpit.
For some reason, Kitty Hawk did not include throttles for either station. You may want to add those yourself once the decals are down.
(See the ‘Cockpit’ section in the ‘Painting and Finishing’ portion of the document, below, for decaling and what paints were used.)
Once satisfied with the consoles and seats, I assembled the rest of the cockpit and touched up any remaining areas that needed attention. The fit of everything was superb.
Front Wheel Well
The dozen or so parts that make up the front wheel well and nose gear fit perfectly. The wheel well can be completely assembled, painted and weathered without the main strut (B22) attached, so this is what I did to assist in painting and handling later on.
Kitty Hawk provides three different front wheel designs to pick from; check your references to determine which one is the correct version for your build.
Like everything else so far, the engine parts fit beautifully. Parts E41 and E42 have some empty cavities that can be filled with “Liquid Gravity” micro-shot to add some weight far up front; had I known that the weights included in the kit were insufficient to stand the plane on its tricycle gear I would have used every opportunity (like this) to get some weight as far forward as possible.
The instructions say to attach the engine support brackets (Part E36) on the port side of the engine and (Part E35) on the starboard side. For me, the two brackets fit better reversed (E36 on the starboard side, etc.) so that’s how I attached them.
Part E56 in Step 5 should be labeled E57. In Step 7, the instructions refer to Part E55, which isn’t even close to the part on the sprue labeled E55. I could not find any part that was left un-used that resembled the part in the image so I left it off.
A word of caution - make sure that Part E45 is installed the right way, which is hard to see in the instructions (Step 6). It will fit either way, but if installed incorrectly, the parts that attach over it (E46 and E8) will not fit. The ‘legs’ surrounding the center disk on Part E45 should slant outward, away from the engine. Once the engine was together I temporarily mounted it on the front wheel well (F-F) so I could easily line things up before they dried.
In Step 8 the front wheel well, engine assembly, and cockpit tub come together, and this is where I encountered the first design issue I had with the kit. While Kitty Hawk includes well-defined attachment points for the cockpit tub into each the fuselage halves, the connections between the tub and wheel well, as well as the wheel well and the engine, are vague, at best. Since these three components, together, must fit into the fuselage halves perfectly, I was surprised at how many ways this can be messed up. The top of the wheel well has two lateral bars, each with two ‘male’ posts, but there are no female receptacles for the posts, and only a single lateral edge, forward, to align things. Additionally, when attached, the engine assembly can tilt across the vertical axis as well as be set forward or aft of its ‘perfect’ spot.
To insure that everything would fit, I used Testor’s slow-drying ‘black bottle’ cement on all three assemblies, and then fit the fuselage halves together around them, securing the halves with rubber bands. Once together, I poked and prodded and pushed and pulled until things lined up. At this point I could only hope the engine cowls would fit around the engine later on (I was lucky, they did). Once everything dried, I pulled the fuselage halves back apart and moved on.
In Steps 9 and 10, final touches are added to each fuselage half, including the main wheel wells. Since both of these assembles can slide around inside the area they attach to, I again, pushed the two fuselage halves together, corrected the wheel well placement, and then let each half dry by itself before finally attaching them in Step 11. The rear tail bulkhead (Part ?? – there is no number) can be pushed in from the outside once the fuselage sides are together.
How you approach the remaining steps depends upon what configuration and paint scheme you decide to finish your Trojan in. Engine exposed or covered, gear deployed or stowed, flaps extended or not, etc., etc. The rest of the build notes highlight only the problems I found and the solutions I used for the configuration I chose – your experience may differ.
Since I would be painting the aircraft and wheel wells different colors, I left off all the gear and gear-door parts, as well as the speed brake, propeller parts and canopy so these could be painted and weathered separately before being attached.
Something went wrong, or the instructions are backwards, I don’t know which. But pay close attention to the assembly images for the main gear in Steps 17 and 19. I believe… that Part F89 in Step 17 is actually Part F90 from Step 19, and it matters. I made a mess of things but finally sorted everything out. I suggest that you closely study pictures of the completed gear to assemble these finicky parts. Overall, I felt the design of the main wheel strut assemblies, and the connections to the wheel well covers (attached later) was lacking.
The engine cowl comes together in pieces, five of them to be exact. I’m not sure what I did wrong, and looking back across the instructions I still don’t know, but the lower, port-side panel just didn’t want to fit over the air intake scoop (Part E24) and still fit snug into the side of the fuselage. Fortunately, for me, I had planned to have the port side of the engine exposed, so rather than perform a bunch of surgery, I simply cleaned up the ejector pin marks on the inside of the panel and dropped it down, further showing off the detail in the lower engine. Curious as to what happened here.
Also, the top cowl panel (E47) dropped into place more easily if I first snipped off the very top of the two plastic protrusions coming up from the engine firewall (Part E44) to support it.
Kitty Hawk provides two options for the propeller blades; a set of narrow ‘A’ type blades, as well as a set of wider ‘B’ paddle type blades. In addition, they have thoughtfully engineered the assembly into three basic parts – the barrel, the blades, and the dome – a design that really helps with painting. As with (most of) the rest of the build, the fit of everything is perfect. Good job here.
Electric Static Wicks
Kitty Hawk chose not to include the prominent static wicks that protrude rearwards from the aircraft’s ailerons, elevators and rudder in the kit so I made mine out of black thread which I applied a thin coat of white glue to before painting them black.
The three, thin canopy sections fit absolutely perfectly. It’s almost a shame that I am choosing to model the canopy open, but there’s just too much good stuff inside to cover it over with clear plastic.
The propeller seems to protrude just to a little too far from the engine, but checking my references, it appears to be spot-on.
Painting and Finish
I decided to paint the T-28 using a new line of acrylic paint called Mission Models Paint (MMP). This new paint is pretty amazing – I have yet to experience any clogging whatsoever when I use the following mixing ratio: Six parts MMP paint + four parts MMP thinner, with the thinner made up of ten parts thinner to one part retarder (given the catchy name of MMP Polyurethane Mix Additive). I spray this paint at about 12lbs for detail work and 20lbs for coverage.
These paints cost a little more than Vallejo, but they come in bigger bottles so they seem more expensive, and I wouldn’t have tried them if I didn’t receive such glowing reports from my friends about their painting experience. Now I am hooked. They spray on beautifully and just don’t clog, even after an hour-long session, with several minutes-long breaks. Did I mention these were acrylics?
I still stand by my vast array of Vallejo paints, and between these two manufacturers I have access to a huge variety of distillate-free colors. Plus I can swap my heavy, uncomfortable vapor mask I use with distillate-based paints for a simple painters (particulate) mask. (You can purchase the paints and watch a tutorial on how to use them here: https://modelpaintsol.com/model-painting/mission-models-paint).
Now on to the model!
Primer and Pre-Shade
I started by using MMP (MMS-110) Black Primer to outline the panels and fill recesses. MMP Primers do not require their polyurethane product to work, using only four drops thinner to every six drops of primer.
The panel lines on the T-28 are relatively shallow, so I left things there, using the primer as my pre-shade color as well. The primer/pre-shade coat gives the plastic and PE some grip for the following coats, and fills in the recesses, creating a shadow effect near the flat surface edges. This will add depth for the subsequent coats to come.
Working with three sticky boards containing all the cockpit parts, I first sprayed everything with MMP Black Primer, and let that dry for about 10 minutes. I then sprayed all the parts labeled (Dark Gull Grey) in the instructions with MMP RLM 65, the (Flat Black) parts with MMP NATO Black, and the seat sections with MMP Olive Drab.
Ten minutes later, I went over the grey parts with a post-shade dusting of MMP RLM65 and the Olive Drab parts with MMP Olive Drab (Faded) to add some depth to the consoles, seats and bulkheads.
After letting everything dry overnight, I laid down a coat of Future to prepare the console surfaces for decals and the other surfaces for a dark pin wash.
The good news is that the cockpit decals are very thin and surprisingly strong, remaining workable for an extended period of time. These characteristics came in handy since the four console decals had little if any resemblance to the sections they were to cover. The overall shape was there, but the match-up on the individual panels weren’t even close. I ended up cutting the decals into sections and applying them here and there, augmenting the work with paint and wash. On the other hand, the six instrument panel decals were spot on – make sure to trim them very close so that the clear film borders don’t get in the way of fitting.
Once the Future was dry to the touch, I applied the decals using the Blue and Red Microsol products without any problems. The decals hug the irregular console surfaces well and result in a satisfying, busy look. Moving over to the seats I painted the PE seat belts using Vallejo Model Color Buff, and then, once dry, carefully threaded the buckles and assembled each seat, trying to minimize the use of the cryo cement along the way.
I then applied several layers of Mig Brown Wash filter, mixing a small dab of the oil paint with a generous amount of Mona Lisa Odorless Thinner. Once dry, I drybrushed the black and dark grey housings using Mig Abt170 German Grey Highlight.
I generally followed the color callouts in the instructions. For “Flat Black” I used MMP Black Primer, “Gloss Black” - Alclad Black Primer & Microfiller, “Gloss White” - MMP White, “Silver” = Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminum, “Green” - Model Master Enamel Green Zinc Chromate, “Yellow” – MMP Yellow. I followed the painting with a good wash using Mig Dark Wash and a filter using Mig Brown Wash oil thinned with Mona Lisa.
Wheels and Wheel Wells
I painted the tires using Model Master Enamel U.S. Army Helo Drab and the wheels with MMP White. The fit of the wheel well doors into the bottom of the wings (in the ‘wheels up’ configuration) is so tight that you won’t need to do any masking for painting. Simply push them in, do your worst, and then pop them out to reveal pristine white wheel wells.
I used (Alclad Primer Black + Clear Gloss) on all five parts (three blades, barrel and hub), and then Alclad White Aluminum on the propeller hub, and (Alclad Pale Burnt Metal + Exhaust Manifold) on the barrel.
After letting the primer/pre-shade coat dry, I painted the green stripes using Model Master Enamel Willow Green, FS14187. Allowed to dry overnight, I went about masking, which was quite a chore. First, the canopy, inside and out. Then the green stripes, the gear doors and wheel wells, and the entire cockpit. I then went about masking the exposed engine areas and the glare panel in front of the cockpit using my references to get an idea of the general shape and where to mask.
Once everything was ready, I laid down the first of 13 coats of yellow paint, custom mixed for me by the owner of Model Paint Solutions, John Miller. Starting with MMP-007 Yellow, John added MMP-003 Red (around 1% by volume), and then added MMP047 Black (around ~0.25% by volume) equating to just a few drops to adjust the hue. The yellow appears very light at first, which is what I wanted knowing that when I added the wash and filters later it would be toned down to a lightened version of ‘school bus yellow’. I had to lay down so many coats of yellow because, well, yellow just doesn’t want to cover black. It had to be encouraged to do so. 13 times.
Decals and Weathering
With painting completed, I laid down a reasonably heavy coat of Future to give everything a smooth surface for the decals.
The decals supplied by Kitty Hawk are very, very thin, and have a tendency to fold up on themselves, sometimes before they are even off the backing paper. Kitty Hawk attempted to minimize the amount of clear backing surrounding each image by using thin, transparent, horizontal bars between some of the letters, which tended to exacerbate the problem. On the plus side, regardless of how often I unfolded and moved each decal around, none of them tore – the material standing up to the worst abuses. With patience and a lot of water, I was able to get everything to set up reasonably well. I suggest that you remove the ‘Y’ from the ‘NAVY’ decals and apply it separately.
I did not need any decals solvents – water worked fine, and the decals are so thin that they snuggled down over bumps and into panel lines just fine on their own.
Once everything was set, I airbrushed another coat of Future to seal the decals and set the model up for washes.
With the model still sporting a glossy Future finish, I started with a ‘sludge’ wash using Mig Dark Brown enamel, straight from the bottle. Working in sections, I ‘painted’ the wash over every panel line and rivet head. It’s ok to be a little sloppy - 99% of it will be removed. I let the wash dry for about 20 minutes and then I used a soft cotton cloth to rub the wash off in the direction of the air flow. A tiny amount of wash was left behind in the panel lines and such, really ‘popping’ the detail. And on a 1/32nd scale aircraft, there’s a lot of detail, so this step is always worth the time and effort. I made sure not to forget the detached parts, wheel covers and other such accoutrement.
Back in the paint booth, I loaded up some Tamiya X19 Smoke, thinned 50/50 with Gunze Leveling Thinner, and went over the areas around the engine and back towards the rear. Not too much, just a hint.
Once satisfied, I removed all the masks (except the canopy sections) and gave the entire model, including the exposed canopy ribbing, gear doors, landing gear, wheel wells – everything – a thin filter using Old Holland Warm Sepia Oil paint thinned with Mona Lisa. This light brown coat tied everything together, and the super fine pigment simply disappeared on the surface. I then sprayed a coat of Vallejo Satin Varnish to knock down any remaining shiny spots, leaving a beautiful, even surface.
The last step was to remove the canopy masks and attach all the parts still remaining. Done and done.
Like all 1/32nd aircraft models, this project was a lot of work. To Kitty Hawk’s credit, the overall design, molding, and fit, was excellent. The large canopy sections were thin and flawless; the fit of the busy engine, cockpit and wheel wells was nearly perfect.
I would have liked better console decals in the cockpit to match the underlying detail, and some better images in the instructions to assist with placement of landing gear parts, but overall, the build went along smoothly, with just a few challenges.
I’ve always loved the nice P-51-ish lines of the T-28, and I was thrilled to get a chance to put this big trainer together.
I recommend this kit to all modelers who have had experience with building and finishing larger airplane models. There are a lot of steps involved, but if you go slowly you shouldn’t have any problems, and you’ll be rewarded with a fine addition to your mode case.
I would like to thank Kitty Hawk Model for providing this kit for review, and to IPMS USA for giving me the opportunity to review it.