Sword 1/72 T-38C Talon
KIT #: SW 72029
PRICE: $32.95 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Multi-media kit with resin and photo etch parts


The Northrop T-38 Talon is an American twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. It remains in service as of 2011 in air forces throughout the world.

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the largest user. In addition to USAF pilots, the T-38 is used in the United States by NASA. The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School is the principal U.S. Navy operator (other T-38s were previously used as USN aggressor aircraft until replaced by the similar F-5 Tiger II), as well as some NATO pilots participating in joint training programs, also fly the T-38. A total of 1,187 T-38s were built.

In 2003, 562 T-38s were still operational with the USAF and are currently undergoing structural and avionics programs (T-38C) to extend their service life to 2020. Improvements include the addition of a HUD, GPS, INS (Inertial Navigation System), and TCAS as well as PMP (a propulsion modification designed to improve low-altitude engine performance by significantly increasing thrust). Many USAF variants (T-38A and AT-38B) are being converted to the T-38C standard.


Sword has been building short run multi-media kits for a considerable time and generally does several boxings to help spread out the costs of tooling. This appears to be the fourth T-38 boxing they have done and concentrates on the T-38C, which is the latest update of the airframe as noted in the historical section.

There is more resin than styrene in this one in terms of parts with basically just the airframe and landing gear in plastic. Even then, the main gear well and speed brake section are resin. Plastic is nicely formed, with only somewhat thick seam lines to show its short run origins. Surface detail is superbly done with finely and crisply engraved lines. Resin takes care of all the details along with a very nicely done color photo etch fret. The cockpit includes well molded bang seats with resin control sticks that fit into a resin tub.

Photo etch takes care of the console and instrument panel pieces with the panels being a three layer etched construct. Photo etch is also used for the rudder pedals, seat harness, gun sight and other small bits. To my eye, the grey on the panels seems a bit light, however the instructions call out a light grey instead of the dark gull grey I'm used to painting modern aircraft interiors. No FS 595 information is provided for construction color info.

More resin is used for the nose gear well, intakes, and exhaust section. The speed brake doors are also resin and can be shown open or closed. One of the arms on one door was broken in transit on my example so will need to be reattached. I should point out that the really thin resin pieces (like the control columns) are molded horizontally, keeping them relative safe from breakage. The kit includes a clear three piece canopy section that is further enhanced by resin and photo etch parts. It is designed to be displayed open, though I'm sure you can fit them together for a closed option. Resin wheels fit on the end of the plastic gear pieces and though not shown, there is a short sprue of plastic antenna to fit the version you are building. Optional nose wheels are provided.

Instructions are on two folded sheets of paper and have a lot of information on each of the construction drawings. Several info views are provided for alignment of the tail planes and gear. Markings are for two planes described as being ADC Grey (FS 16473) and Engine Grey (FS16081). Markings are for two units, though neither one is identified. The box art plane is from r the 57th FTS, but I could find no direct information on this unit via Google. It has the Black Knight markings of former 57 FIS which was deactivated in Iceland during 1996 and the tail codes of Moody AFB. Yet a visit to the Moody AFB web site shows no information on this unit having been there and the training units that were there were disbanded a few years back. Quite a mystery. The other is the boss bird of the 3 FTS at Vance AFB. Decals are well done and should work splendidly.


Prior to this, the only other 'T-38' in this scale was the poorly disguised F-5B that Hasegawa produced back in the dark ages of the company. This one seems to have that one beaten rather badly and comes with all the aftermarket style bits you could want.



May 2011

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