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148
Building the Kawasaki T-4 Jet Trainer

THE SUBJECT
The Kawasaki T-4 is a Japanese subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft developed and manufactured by the commercial conglomerate Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Its sole operator is the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), in part due to historic restrictions on the exporting of military hardware. In addition to its primary training mission, the T-4 has been used by the JASDF's Blue Impulse aerobatic team as well as liaison duties with most fighter units. The first XT-4 prototype flew on 29 July 1985, while the first production aircraft was delivered during September 1988.~wikipedia~
INTRODUCTION
This was a bargain, I thought, at ten Canadian dollars from a second hand vendor. The large roundels had been cut from the decal sheet but I figured, "not a big deal, just get aftermarket ones.". That didn't turn out to be the case. They are extremely tough to find and in the end had to ask around if any of my fellow forum members had any.

I decided that one day they would avail themselves and jumped right into the build. When that day stretched to a year I figured cutting my own masks would be the only way. Well wouldn't you know it, after one friend comes through with an unexpected gift of a flex-I-file compass/circular cutter did another email with spares he'd found just hours prior. Great, I can proceed.

The only company who make decals that I could find are Platz Models but after several messages to them there was no reply. The yellowed decals are really nice though and I didn't want them thrown out (it's the Scottish blood in me). After a week sunbathing (stuck to a window naked) they still had that nasty sepia hue. The easiest option was to mix a paint and cloak the yellowing. I selected Tamiya XF-14 J.A. Grey added a few drops of clear yellow, clear red and flat white. I know it isn't the grey used on these craft, but what is a modeler to do... waste 10 bucks?
THE BUILD
Anyway, getting back to the build, this kit has been re-boxed many times from the early 2000's. The details are raised and recessed yet a bit on the soft side for the access panels. Hasegawa, as usual, have mold release marks on the intakes and there are about a dozen sink marks to fill scattered about the entire kit.

The figures while being very nicely detailed will not fit in without trimming the feet and shaving the sides of the legs. I may opt to do this surgery later as figure painting practice for a friend's gift.

The cockpit is nice to with great instrument panels and controls. I did, however, scratch build some components for the side walls since these are on the actual aircraft. The head scratchier is why Hasegawa didn't include ejection handles. I simply painted some thin wire yellow and black then spun them together. It isn't perfect but is uniform. Here the decals look stellar as you can see in the photo. The canopy and windscreen had the center seam removed and polished, masks added inside and out, primed, painted and then dipped in clear. Sadly the back of the canopy does not fit completely flush without major sanding... good luck with that. I have a U-Star set of wide steel files which knocked it down more.

The fuselage is four main components; port and starboard intake sections, lower section with the landing gear bay and exhaust ports plus the large upper and nose area. Individually these components are decent fit. The intakes though need to be curled into position and clamped to force them to line up. It was the only challenge in this part of the build. Naturally there was filling and sanding and re-scribing and riveting.

The wings on this kit are bizarre. For starters there are no line-up pins or holes and on top of that there is a nasty flex in the worst place... you guessed it, at the wing root! You choose which is better to fill the top or bottom, I selected the top because it's flatter and easier to sand. Before you even go there the inside has to be widened to keep the filling at a minimum. Luckily there is a gap where the flaps go. I slid an alligator clip on a stick in sideways (wow, never ever thought I'd write those words in the same sentence HA HA) then turned it until the top and bottom flared out enough to cement. Sounds a bit convoluted, but when you build this you'll know exactly what I mean. Regardless of that exercise you will still have to fill because the parts are not shaped right. 3M Bondo glazing putty, Tamiya surface primer-G/filler and polystyrene filler were used to get the top sides smoothed out. There were a few spots on the intake sub assemblies that needed a bit of attention as well but nowhere near as much as those wings.

The finish color, as mentioned above, resembles a WWII aircraft yet much lighter. In the spirit of this I selected the Samurai Warrior for the tail art. Various shades of AK Xtreme Metals made up sensors and components with Vallejo orange for the training identifier wing tips.

Decals went on fairly well for being so old yet I did use some Microscale liquid film on places where a few cracks occurred then she got a clear coat. Strangely though after masking off the nose for black paint one decal came off in a few spots... trust me I'm not complaining. Then another clear coat.

Weathering was completed with 502 oils for the wheel bays and gear with a clay wash for the rivets and panel lines. Mr. Metallic dark iron buff-able was dry-brushed on the exhaust ports and cockpit details.

The details went on with little hassle yet I'll caution you that the poly-cap system for the landing gear and stabilizers is a nuisance (I employ that word every so often to keep it from having a nervous breakdown due to lack of use). It forced me to shave some material from the connecting pins and even then snapped off one of the pins. An easy fix yet a pain. I still have to sand down the main tires and touch up the paint around the windscreen edge but this is the completed model.
WRAP UP
Like the man said, "You get out what you put into it." and once again it's just plug away and this will be the end result. Not a great kit but certainly not a horrible one, plus it is the coolest looking of all the trainers in this class in that it looks like an actual jet fighter... well sorta.

Special thanks go out to Angelo at www.sunwardhobbies.ca for getting my supplies delivered at almost supersonic speed and Rob Tittle for donating the perfect sized missing roundels. Very Special Thanks to YOU for dropping by and taking a look.

When shopping for the inevitable re-release of the Hasegawa T-4 Trainer kit please mention you read a review on Kit Maker Network AeroScale Magazine
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About the Author

About HG Barnes (HGBARNES)
FROM: ALBERTA, CANADA

H.G. Barnes is a former voice artist and sales/marketing executive. Currently ghost writing, he's recently published the first of many Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, and Adventure novels. He's been building model kits of every genre since memory to go along with his short stories, yet aircraft h...