A smooth surface on a model that will have a natural metal finish is crucial and Kitty Hawk doesn’t make this easy with this kit. The deficiencies here become pretty apparent rather quickly.
In this section of the build review, we’re going to take a look at the main assembly of the kit, including the fuselage, wings, and moving surfaces.
The fuselage halves themselves went together easily enough. On the top side, the seams lined up well and disappeared with TET. On the belly, however, the halves didn’t line up properly, leaving a step between them. This wouldn’t be a huge deal, but there are some raised details on the bottom that will be sanded away.
After the halves are together, there are two panels that need to be installed, piece numbers D5 and D6. They were both a struggle.
Starting with the panel behind the cockpit, it simply didn’t fit. It was too long to fit in its spot and too narrow to reach both sides of the fuselage.
Out came my handy-dandy razor saw.
I cut that bitch in half and filled the gap with CA and Bondo. This was no small gap. The panel was almost a full millimeter short of spanning the distance it needed to. Cutting it in half did cause a minor issue with the locating holes for the antenna, but they were easily fixed once said antenna was installed.
I did end up with a gap on the aft end of the panel, but it was my fault. I didn’t sand it square. This wasn’t as big of a problem as the canyon dividing the panel.
Once that headache was mitigated, I moved to the cowl panel between the engine and cockpit.
The kit allows for two versions of this panel, for two variants of the T-6, and the plane I’m building required me to cut out a square and add the replacement section, piece number D4. To no one’s surprise, the guides for cutting out the square on the panel are not sized properly for the replacement area.
Again, I was left with another gap of about a millimeter.
This one proved to be very difficult to get at with normal sanding tools. I added some CA to the bottom of the gap to act as a stop and filled it with layers of Perfect Plastic Putty. Once it was built up enough that it was raised out of the gap, I shaved the surface with my knife and carefully sanded with some 1500 grit sandpaper to removed the knife marks.
The corrected panel was then installed onto the fuselage halves. On the starboard side, the fit was great. The port side, however, had (can you guess?) another big gap. This problem came from inside the cockpit. The front instrument panel sits too high.
(I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but the fit really isn’t one of the strong suits of this kit.)
I shaved off some of the IP, but I couldn’t go too far before I started cutting into the actual instruments. I even brought out my Dremel and thinned the panel as far as I could before breaking through. That still wasn’t enough to get the damn thing to sit flat.
It was time to bring out the big guns.
Now, normally I don’t like to use such drastic measures to hold my builds together, but in this case, it was necessary. Using a combination of TET and MEK, there was still so much resistance that it wouldn’t stay together unless I physically held it together in my hands. I tried holding it for a few minutes to no avail, thus my turning to Mr. Quick Grip and a steel block.
Even after my intensive efforts to keep the panel down, the fit still wasn’t perfect on the port side. Thankfully, it’s a separate panel on the real-life aircraft so it didn’t need to be super smooth.
I was really beginning to have enough of this kit.
I moved on to the wings and horizontal stabilizers. I was delighted to find that they both went together without much of an issue. Of course, there was still a small seam at the joints, but they were taken care of, again, with Perfect Plastic Putty.
I did remove the formation lights from the wingtips as South African Harvards didn’t have them there. They were situated on the top and bottom of the wings on the real aircraft. I’ll add them back to the aircraft after paint.
At this point, there wasn’t much left to the assembly phase of the T-6. I attached the front and rear sections of the canopy while I waited for my corrected glass from Alley Cat Models. They were glued in place with TET and gaps filled with Perfect Plastic Putty once again.
As noted in a lot of other places, and I believe in part one of my review, Kitty Hawk only provides the canopy for late model T-6s – those without the extra framework. That just didn’t cut it for me, which is why I went with the aftermarket replacement from Alley Cat.
I’m a little bit worried about the putty showing under the windscreen since there wasn’t any paint to cover it, but we’ll see what happens when I pull the masks off.
And I’m finally onto my favorite part of modeling, paint and weathering. This phase of the build really tested my patience and I feel like a lot of the problems were unnecessary. In this day and age, things should fit properly and there is really no excuse for piss-poor engineering and quality control. I shouldn’t have to cut a panel in half because it’s a millimeter too narrow for its hole, nor should I have to cut into one of most interesting areas of an aircraft to get a panel to sit flush.
That said, it looks like a T-6 and I think I’ll have a pretty good representation once she’s painted. You can look forward to paint and weathering in the next installment of my review.