T-34C Turbo Mentor by Czech Model

1/48 scale
Kit No. 4809
Cost: $35.00
Decals: 2 versions – both U.S. Navy
Comments: Engraved panel lines; resin cockpit tub, seats, engine exhausts, wheels and nose wheel well; two vacuform canopies

History

The Beech T-34 Mentor was developed shortly after World War II, taking its maiden flight on December 2, 1948. After much debate during the early days of the jet age, the U.S. Air Force decided that keeping a force of piston-eingined primary trainers on hand was more prudent than exposing the sometimes ham-fisted trainees to jet aircraft immediately. Based on the civilian V-tailed Beech Bonanza, the T-34 was designed as a military trainer with a conventional tail and entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1953 as the T-34A. The next model, the T-34B, entered U.S. Navy Service following a June 17, 1954 order for 290 aircraft. Both aircraft were powered by 225 hp Continental O-470-13 piston engines turning two-bladed propellers. Apart from minor interior and exterior details, the T-34B differed from the T-34A in having an additional one degree in the wing dihedral. This resulted in the T-34B being a more stable, but less agile flying platform.

 

The Turbo Mentor resin components consist of a complete cockpit floor, seats, forward wheel well, wheels and exhausts.

In 1973, the U.S. Navy began an upgrade program resulting in T-34B’s being refitted with a more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT-6A-25 turboshaft engine turning a three-bladed propeller. Other changes included revised wings, new landing gear, and enlarged tail surfaces. Over 350 turboprop-powered T-34C’s were built between 1977 and 1990. A second variant, designated the T-34C-1, features increased power and a light weapons capability for use as a forward air controller or armed trainer.

Performance

Maximum speed: 257 mph
Range: 749 miles
Weights: 2,630 lbs. (empty); 4,274 lbs. (fully loaded)
Armament: T-34C (none); T-34C-1(up to 1,200 lbs. of ordnance, including practice bombs or flares, BLU-10/B incendiary bombs, Mk. 81 bombs, SUU-11 minigun pods, LAU-32 or LAU-59 rocket pods, AGM-22A anti-tank missiles, or towed target equipment

The Kit

Czech Model’s T-34C Turbo Mentor consists of 51 injection molded plastic parts, 9 resin parts and two vacuform canopies. All sprues are loose in the box except for the resin parts, which rare separately bagged. The kit has engraved panel lines and is molded in grey. Although the kit has plastic injection molded wheels, the resin wheels provided offer superior detail, including the benefit of bulged tires for a more realistic look. There is good engraved detail on the instrument panels and the interior of the landing gear doors (both plastic). However, the vacuform canopies offer, at best, faint demarcation lines for the canopy frames and this will have to be provided by careful taping. On the plus side, the canopies are extremely clear.

The resin cockpit tub and seats have very crisp detail for the side instrument panels and seat straps, and the same is true of the nose wheel well. The cockpit includes separate injection molded control sticks and instrument panels (plastic again), and the resin engine exhausts have deep interior tunnelling for realistic detail there as well. Overall, the exterior detail on the kit is quite good, particularly considering that it is a limited run, but there is little interior detail for the cockpit sidewalls. The decals appear to be thin, with good color and the national emblems are completely in register. Although there are markings for two different U.S. Navy trainers, there is no information in the kit as to their respective units. The main difference between them is the paint scheme; both sport a scheme of white and red with black anti-glare panels and wing walkways, but one version has significantly more red on its surface area than the other.

An excellent kit of a Cold War U.S. Navy trainer. Highly recommended.

References

  • Kit instructions
  • The Encyclopedia of World Air Power, Crescent Books, New York; 1980

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