Northrop T-38A Talon/F-5B by Hasegawa

1/72 scale
Kit No. JS-018:100
Price: $8.50
Decals: Two versions – U.S. Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force
Comments: Older kit, raised panel lines; detailed pilot figures but spare cockpit; includes centerline, wingtip and underwing drop tanks, plus two 750 lb. practice bombs on outboard underwing hard points


For the history of the T-38, please see the Preview of this kit here.


This is an old kit, perhaps from the 1970’s, but with the instructions and all text on the box entirely in Japanese, it is hard to tell.  A small kit with relatively few parts (51), with the well-illustrated instruction sheet, it was a very smooth build.  The pilot figures are rather well done, considering the kit’s age, and they are the most detailed thing about the cockpit, which had no instruments, no control sticks, and two very basic seats.  The fuselage assembled easily, but the large scoops for the air intakes did not fit flush, and required a fair amount putty and sanding, as did the single part for the tail assembly at the bottom rear of the fuselage.  There are separate parts for the rudder and nose cone, with the latter requiring a fair amount of sanding.  I built the kit without the wing tip tanks and in a clean configuration, so the final challenge was to putty the seams where the one-piece wing joined the fuselage.  Mr. Surfacer 500, used in tandem with Squadron white putty, came in handy at this stage.


The T-38 is painted with Tamiya acrylics, gloss white overall with a semi-gloss black anti-glare panel.  The jet exhaust nozzles are Alcad Duraluminum lacquer.  As an older kit the T-38 had few engraved panel lines, so very little weathering was needed once the painting was done.


The word on Hasegawa decals is that they are usually poor quality and better replaced with aftermarket ones.  Not this time.  Despite the kit’s age, most of the decals went on just fine, and a few light coats of Future afterwards helped minimize the yellowing effect often seen with old markings.  The only markings I replaced were the national insignia, which had poor color and also had bits of some kind of fiber or dust embedded in them, which did not come out or rub off upon exposure to water.  The national markings provided were also too large for the position on the intakes called for in the instructions.  I used the national insignia from Italeri’s 1/72 Northrop F-5F, a close relative of the T-38 as they were both developed from the prototype N-156 airframe.  Generally the Hasegawa decals not only laid down well, but were difficult to move after initial contact.  The Italeri decals were not of the high quality usually expected from this manufacturer, having a completely flat finish, and even decal solvent did not make the markings on the intakes, which curve somewhat, lay down completely.  Only the final coats of Future did that.  The F-5F decals were more like old Esci decals in quality, not at all like the usual excellent and more recent Italeri markings.


With assembly complete, the canopy is masked for painting and the nose is touched up with primer to check the thoroughness of the sanding where the nose cone’s join seam could be highly visible.


Although an old kit lacking it detail, Hasegawa’s T-38 gets high marks for accuracy (it passes the eyeball test) and ease of construction.  This is a highly recommended weekend build.

Due to the simplicity of the kit, the instructions appearing entirely in Japanese was not a problem.

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