Back in the 60’s Hasegawa released it’s 1/72 scale kit of the T-34A “Mentor” used by both the US Air Force and US Navy as well as numerous other countries. Until recently, no kit in 1/48 scale has been available from anyone, save for the rather poor vacuform kit by Sanger. Earlier this year, Minicraft released its kit of this venerable aircraft and it is a beauty.
The kit has 4 sprues (89 parts) in grey styrene and 2 (13 parts) in clear totaling 102 parts, which includes a stand (remember those?).
A number of parts will not be used, depending on how you build the kit. There are options to build either 2-blade (standard USAF/USN) or 3-blade props using two different types of hubs for each and two different blade styles. I suggest you do your research on the particular aircraft you want to build!
As to accuracy (a failing of the Sanger kit), the T-34 has a 32’9-7/8” wingspan. The kit scales out to 33’. As for length the T-34 is 25’10-7/8” long. Measuring as accurately as I could (parts still on trees), I came up with 26’. Off by only a scale inch or two each way – pretty acceptable for me.
You also have the option to build gear up or down. Nice to have the stand for a gear up version. One important item not mentioned in the instructions: there is one significant external difference between the T-34A (Air Force) and T-34B (Navy). At the bottom of the rudder is a sheet-metal fillet that is present on the A, but not on the B. If you are doing a Navy aircraft, ignore step 9 and leave part B3 off (see photo). This is the only reason I can think of that this part is separate, but they make no mention of it. Also, the canopy parts are separate but I cannot tell if they will properly nest or not. The instructions only show assembly in the closed position.
Decals are provided for an Air Force and JMSDF aircraft. If you want to do a Navy aircraft you are on your own or you can, as I did, get the CARCAL 48082 decal sheet which has marks for a VT-1 all yellow aircraft (early 60’s) and a VT-5 (post 1975) aircraft as well as 3 other Air Force options. Kind of bummed that there are no markings for late 60/early 70’s orange/white VT-1 aircraft that I flew!
The kit is currently available from Hannants, Sprue Brothers and KitLinx (formerly Roll Models). Carcal decals are available from Hannants and Sprue Brothers.
Overall it looks like a great kit and will go nicely with the 1/48 TA-4J and T-2C kits I have in the stash.