Lockheed T-33 "T-bird"
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T-33 in 1/72 scale Heller kit 
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    helkler  logo

 heller t-33
Many years ago in 1986 HELLER from France released a 1/72 kit #80301 of the T-33. A few kits were bought over the years being unnoticed for decades in my stash.
    heller t-33
The kit can be made as two seat T-33A T-bird trainer but also has optional nose parts to make a RT-33A reconnaissance version:
behind the pilot not a second seat but equipment for the recce mission was installed which are clearly visible. The RT- nose has a different shape and contains the cameras with nose windows.

The kit has no transparancies for the camera windows, the modeller can make these from scrap or suggest these through paint work.
Panel lines are raised and there are about 40 parts in shiny soft light grey'ish aluminium plastic. The cockpit has reasonable seats and for the RT-33A a rear rack with equipment boxes is optional and provided.

The canopy is one piece. The large wing tip tanks are integrally moulded with lower and upper wing parts. They look good in size and shape but there is no option to leave these off. The air side intakes are a bit shallow but look good. The gear bays are boxed but have no internal hydraulic details. The lower pair of air brakes can be set open.
  decals heller 80301
Kit #80301 has simple decals for two metal finished schemes:
- T-33A, Armee de l'Air , GE 314 based at Tours in 1982
- RT-33A of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force) of no.306 squadron, coded "TP-19", 1956.
The Dutch AF roundels are not very accurate, the orange dots are too small. The French decals have uncentered roundels, later releases had reasonable decals but not a lot of stencilling.
These kits are over 35 years old, a few Heller kits will be made. 
The first 1/72 Heller kit was made as RT-33A and build almost straight out of the box. But most raised panel lines were enscribed with an Olfa scriber and removed through sanding. Not all panel lines were rescribed though.
In my kit the wing parts were warped. These needed bending and straightening out in warm water or use a hair dryer. Ensure horizontal surfaces with the integrally moulded wing tip tanks.
I therefor recommend to make first the wing assembly. So join the lower wing part #17 and than the upper part #4 and #5. I found that there is a ridge at the tip tanks, these needs sanding and putty.

Let dry and than do some sanding on edges and wing tip tanks.

The cockpit will be made as per kit with just some details added as the cockpit hood will be set closed. Before setting the fuselage nose halves, add some nose weight to avoid a "tail sitter". Install the seats at a later stage.

The prepared wing was joined with the fuselage.
Surprisingly at just some spots putty and sanding is needed. If you install the air brakes closed as I did, set a few plastic strips in the bays, install the brakes and putty and sand flush.
The model now got a base grey coat with my favorite primer airbrushing Revell Aqua 75 stein grau.
  75  airbrush
 Any flaws were repaired with putty as needed.

The model was to be finished as a T-33 of the Mexico Air Force.
I had an excellent but very old AZTEC decal set #72001.
The overall airframe colour of this particular aircraft was ADC grey FS16495 for which Gunze Sangyo Mr.Hobby H338 acrylic paint can be airbrushed.

The insides of the wing tip tanks were airbrushed matt black after masking. For the black anti-glare panel a decal will be used. I could not establish the inside colours of the gear bays and settled for brush painted aluminium.

The Mexican T-33 with eagle head on the nose was made. It has "rayo" lightning flash on the tips tanks. The EAJP 210 "escadron aereo jet de pelea" flew these jets from Merida in Yucatan in the early 1990s.
Before decalling, the model got a gloss varnish coat to help decal adherence and avoid "silvering" that spoils how the model looks.
Airbrushed was a gloss coat of Johnson Future/ Pledge acrylic thinned with some 20% Isopropylalkohol (IPA).
The decals were applied but the instructions are a bit unclear.

After decalling the remaining parts of the T-33 were installed like the landing gears. I kept the gear bay insides' light grey as well as the door insides' though this is unclear.
The wheel tyres were painted very dark "tyre" grey. The smaller Heller parts are quite good, you even get the landing lights for installment on the nose gear. But pitot tube and fuel dump pipe are not provided in the kit. A small pitot was set below the nose and a 3mm fuel dump pipe from rod at the rear fuselage. A tiny antenna was made from card and set at the anti-glare panel and another one below the nose.

The cockpit canopy was to be closed for this model. The kit seats look good enough and got painted with red head rests. Pilot straps were suggested with tape strips. Instrument panels and side consoles were made from spare decals but can also be suggested with black paint.
I saw that the rear T-33 station had a blind flying curtain and wires to train the student; these were made from thin sprue.  
Some missing panel lines were suggested with a pencil.
The anti-collision lights at the upper and lower wing were painted blue and red, they can be seen on the parts slighly inboard of the wing tip tanks. 

The Heller canopy is one piece and fits very good. The frames were painted (so ADC grey). After drying, its was set with white glue.
map  map  f;lag round
[ area: 1,972,550 km2 | population: 127 million | capital: Mexico city | GDP USD 10,000 nominal per capita ]

The "Fuerza Aerea Mexicana" used some 50 AT-33's as fighter bomber but also some 15 T-33's at the Escuela Aerea for jet training. The first T-33's arrived in 1962 and was in service some 45 years until 2007. 

For more information about the Mexican air forces look at the F-5 
page here....

t-33 mexico
t-33 lockheed t-bird mexicana   
t-33 fuerza aerea mexicana 1/72 
t-33 mexico

t-33 mexicana
As noted earlier, an interesting variant of the T-33 was the RT-33 used for reconnaissance.
The RT- nose has a different shape that contains the cameras with nose windows as compared to the standard T-33. Behind the pilot was not a second seat but equipment installed for the recce mission which under the canopy are clearly visible.
  rt-33 nose

The second 1/72 Heller kit was made as a RT-33A of the ROC Taiwan air force.
About 70 T-33's were delivered to Taiwan under the MDAP program by the USA in the early 1950s. Most jets had a natural metal scheme in those years. Some 4 RT-33 jets were flown coded 002, 004 and 007 but it was impossible to find good photos of the Taiwanese RT-33. (I only found some photos of Taiwanese RT-33 modellers and used these as a guide).   

Assembly of the Heller kit was done as described above, also this model got a few re-scribed panel lines.
The RT-33A cockpit got no  second rear seat but the recce equipment boxes and probably an extra fuel tank in stead. There is a part in the Heller kit provided.
  rt-33 seat
The kit RT- nose parts were installed and these have no transparant camera windows but moulded recesses; these will be suggested later on with paint work.  
The model needed again dealing with the warped wing parts, putty and sanding. As usual, a base grey primer was airbrushed
with Revell Aqua 75 stein grau. Repairs of any gaps were made as needed.
   rt-  schwartz
For the natural metal scheme a gloss black undercoat was first airbrushed with Revell Aqua 07.    
I used my special trick to get a few different panel hues: masking tape was set on a few panels. Airbrush a first metal coat. Remove the tapes and apply another metal coat with the airbrush, this will give different hues. For the metal paint Vallejo metal 77.701 acrylic that was airbrushed with few drops of flow improver 71.262.
  vallejo improver
A few mists of Vallejo Chrome 77.707 followed and airbrushed to get some different glossy effects.
The insides of the wing tip tanks were airbrushed black after masking. But I later found the colour was olive drab, so these was redone!
The model was glossy so ready for the decals. The decal roundels came from a Flying Party Studio set #FP-001 and the remainder like codes and stencilling were lef-overs from previous made T-33 kits and the spares box. The rudder was painted white and blue "national flag" stripes were added from decal strips.

The landing gears were installed. I kept the gear bays and doors inside surfaces and wheel hubs metal though this is unclear. The wheel tyres were painted very dark "tyre" grey. Anti-collision lights were painted as well.
Tamiya X-19 Smoke paint was applied in the camera recesses with a fine brush to suggest the windows. The port and starboard windows are different and in the lower nose in front of the nose gear bay also a few camera windows are present.

Some missing panel lines were suggested with a pencil and than the model got a gloss varnish coat. This will give an even sheen and protect the decals.

The RT-33 had not the pitot tube below the nose but (like the F-80A) still located at the leading edge of vertical tail. On the RT-33 it is very small, just 1 1/2 mm in 1/72 and was made from a metal needle bit. A missing fuel dump pipe was added from red painted rod on the right site rear fuselage. 

Amidst inside the cockpit canopy a sort of strip was made from tape and the excellent fitting cockpit hood was fixed with white glue.

That completed this neat model.

map  flag  rr oundel
[ area: 36,200 sq.km | population: 23,5 million | capital: Taipei | nom. GDP 25,000 USD per capita ]

About 70 T-33's were delivered under the MDAP program by the USA in the early 1950s. Most jets had a natural metal scheme in those years. Some 4 RT-33 jets were flown coded 002, 004 and 007

For more information about the ROC Taiwan Air Force, look at my Mirage page here...
t-33 taiwan
rt-33 tawian
RT-33 ROC Taiwan
Another RT-33A was made using the Heller kit.
This model would be finished as a RT-33A of the Royal Netherlands Air Force ("Koninklijke Luchtmacht" KLu). The KLu received two RT-33 in August 1955, and a third aircraft in 1957. They flew with no.306 squadron from Laarbruch and Deelen. Behind the pilot not a second seat but equipment for the recce mission with also extra boxes which are clearly visible.

As noted, the Heller kit nose parts have NO clear camera windows. I had a 1/72 SWORD RF-80 Shooting Star kit in my stash. That kit had parts for a F-80 or a RF-80 with spare transparant nose parts. That kit would be made as F-80 so the left over RF- nose parts were crafted on the Heller RT-33 fuselage.
These can be joined with the Heller fuselage after some trimming at the lower nose gear bay area.
  sword nose RT-
  RT-33 nose
The RT-33A cockpit got no the second seat but the recce equipment  boxes. There is a part in the Heller kit provided but the KLu RT-33 appears to have extra boxes.  

The clear camera windows were masked off with tape, note these are not symmetrical between port and starboard. Also at the lower surface, windows are seen. Some putty and sanding is needed to craft the new nose to the Heller fuselage.
For the remainder the model, with again a "warped wing", was made as described for the kits made above.


The clear camera windows were masked.

As usual, a base grey primer was airbrushed
with thinned Revell Aqua 75 steingrau acrylic paint.  

This model would be finished as a camouflaged RT-33A of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF / "Koninklijke Luchtmacht" KLu). The camoufage came in 1962 on these jets. (reference: IPMS NL T-33 info pages). The colours are based on the British Standard Colours: undersurfaces PRU blue BS:636, upper surfaces camouflage dark green BS:614 and Extra dark sea grey BS:640.

First airbrushed was for the PRU a mix of 50% Gunze Sangyo Mr Hobby H56 + 50% H25. Masking was done and than airbrushed for the Extra dark sea grey Gunze H333 acrylic, followed by airbrushing free hand
dark green Gunze H340.  
The decals were applied after the model had obtained a gloss transparant sheen airbrushed as described above...

The RNLAF KLu decals came from the spares box. (note: Dutch Decal also had a few sheets). The real full sized fuselage KLu roundels were about 75cm in diameter and 90 cm on the wing.
   klu rt-33
The cockpit details were painted as well as the equipment bay. I kept it simple as the canopy would be set closed. The single seat got some straps made from tape and the instrument panels painted medium grey and black instruments.
  tub  tub

The canopy frames were painted and the canop set closed. The gaps were filled with white glue an painted in the surrounding colours when dried.

The undercarriages were fitted as per kit.

The configuration was kept clean as usual for the RT-33. A small relocated pitot was added at the vertical tail. The tiny anti-collision lights at the tip tanks were painted.

Finally a semi-dull varnish coat was airbrushed (protect the clear canopy).


RT-33 klu
The Royal Netherlands Air Force ("Koninklijke Luchtmacht") operated 3 RT-33 along with some60 T-33's. Flown from 1955 until mid 1960s by no. 306 squadron from AFB Deelen and in West-Germany at Laarbruch on detachment.  "M -103" USAF code 54-5122 c/n 9139. It was also flown without camera equipment from the mid 1960s until 1971.
RT-33 1/72 KLu heller
RT-33 1/72 KLU

Though made from an old Heller kit, some nice models added to the World Air Forces' collection. 

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Created December 20, 2023