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ALF18

1/32 Czech Models CT-133

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Now that the warm-up is over, it's finally time to tackle a bigger challenge. This big T-33 kit is a mix of good and not so good. More to follow on what I like and don't like as you see progress.

The subject I've chosen is one that is very special to me. It is the first ejection-seat equipped aircraft I ever rode in. When I was in Air Cadets in Baden, Germany, there was a great deal offered each year. We were very privileged in that our squadron (800 Black Forest) was located on two Canadian bases - Baden and Lahr. We therefore got to tour around the bases and climb all over the CF-104s, CT-133s, and the Army equipment (M-113 APCs, self-propelled artillery, etc). Everyone got a chance to ride in tanks and APCs, and once a year they chose 6 deserving Cadets to ride 20 minutes each in a T-33!

My turn came on the 2nd of June 1973. I was almost 14 years old, and the pilot for my flight was my father, who was flying the CF-104 and was dual-qualified on the T-33 as well. On that day, they flew two T-33s (one with my father flying, the other with Ken McCrimmon, whose son Rob got to fly with him). Both Rob and I went on to become military pilots, and that ride hooked us both on the career path. Each T-bird flew one Cadet for 20 minutes, then landed and they left the engine running while they put the ladder up and swapped back-seaters, then it went flying again with the next Cadet.

Here is what I looked like right after the groundcrew strapped me in:

P1060505.jpg

The flight was fantastic! I had flown in airliners, and in the L-19 (a single-engine prop plane) and a Tiger Moth (a biplane) before, but this was my first experience in a jet. We all went through High Altitude Indoctrination (HAI) training, where we went 'up' in a hypobaric chamber to a simulated altitude of 43,000 feet, experienced hypoxia, and learned the ins and outs of the ejection seat including how to rapidly egress on ground in an emergency, as well as what to do at each stage of ejection.

We taxied out on a warm and humid June afternoon, with the visibility better than usual for the mid 70s in Germany. We took off northbound, then turned right and flew South toward Lahr. I was amazed at how smooth the ride was - after flying in propeller driven aircraft, I had gotten to accept the noise and vibration as normal for flying. This jet was smooth and powerful, accelerating well and cutting through the air with barely a bump. Noise was minimal, given the noise-deadening headphones in the helmet, but I sure felt claustrophobic strapped in so tightly! The oxygen mask took some getting used to, and I found myself hyperventilating.

My Dad gave me control, and talked me through some minor turns and a roll. He then took control and banked hard to the right, telling me to look for the black smoke trails to our right. I spotted them, and saw two Luftwaffe F-4s coming Northbound along the Rhine River. We turned hard behind them, and they turned in response, for about 180 degrees of turn, then we all waggled our wings and resumed our original course. We did a touch and go landing at Lahr, then flew up to Baden and did another couple landings before it was over, all too soon.

I'll never forget that flight, and this model will be a tangible reminder of that flight.

The model has greatly-detailed instructions. I'll be using CanMilAir decals. Bill Burns threw in some stencils that he had just made, and he's asked me to comment on the instruction sheet. I've had them for quite a while now, so hopefully it's not too late for the feedback to him. When I saw this GB coming up, I just had to wait for it. I also built the same tail number (393) in my first entry to this GB as a warm-up. As I mentioned in that thread, it's almost ironic that my first jet ended its active flying career in the same place as I flew my last military jet (the CF-18 Hornet); Bagotville. And the T-33 ended up on 439 Squadron, which was the Squadron my father belonged to when he flew the CF-104 and T-33 in Baden.

Here is the kit and decals:

P1090467.jpg

Hope you enjoy the build!

ALF

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This kit has some really neat features. One that I like is the photo-etched parts. Here are the instrument panels.

P1090472.jpg

Although the instruments are not quite right for a Canadian T-33 of that era, they look really cool, and nobody will notice. I had to look at pictures of Canadian cockpits before I remembered what went where, and the colours and detail of these photo-etchings just look neat.

They look like this when they come together.

P1090473.jpg

The seats and various other parts are in resin. My biggest nightmare is chopping off the casting block under the seats.

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Now I'm going to paint the black throughout the cockpit. I won't be using any resin pieces for this cockpit. I know Harold has done a great job producing resin for it, but I wanted to try out the kit parts. To me the biggest addition to a cockpit is a resin seat; this kit already comes with them. I'm anxious to see how it all looks painted and buttoned up.

ALF

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Good start there alf

love the instrument panels

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This will be another exciting build I'm sure. That photo of you is just classic!!! I even had to call my wife over to the laptop to see it. You can see the total 'star-struck' look in your eyes. And I'll bet there's a sh!t-eating grin under that mask to end all grins!!

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Given what I've seen of your other builds, can't wait to see how this one progresses!

(I'm way out of my league in this GB, but it's inspiring!)

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Looking forward on your progress on this one brother. I hope the wait was worth it and the kit doesn't throw you too many curve balls. I know you've wanted to build this one for a while. Good luck ALF.

Oh...and what Tilt said. I bet there's a Cheshire cat grin under that mask. How cool was that to get your first flight in a jet from your dad! You're a lucky man.

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This will be one we all watch. Lucky with that flight. When my dad was in he flew a desk.

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Good start there alf

love the instrument panels

Thanks Neo.

It almost seems like cheating... way too easy to make them look great!

ALF

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This will be another exciting build I'm sure. That photo of you is just classic!!! I even had to call my wife over to the laptop to see it. You can see the total 'star-struck' look in your eyes. And I'll bet there's a sh!t-eating grin under that mask to end all grins!!

Tilt

Definitely there was a big S**t eating grin happening. That was also tempered with a bit of fear and claustrophobia. The T-bird is quite cramped, especially in the back. It's not at all the 'sitting on top of the world' feeling you get in the Hornet - more like the "OMG what have I gotten myself into?" feeling.

The big grin lasted for several days...

ALF

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Looking forward on your progress on this one brother. I hope the wait was worth it and the kit doesn't throw you too many curve balls. I know you've wanted to build this one for a while. Good luck ALF.

Oh...and what Tilt said. I bet there's a Cheshire cat grin under that mask. How cool was that to get your first flight in a jet from your dad! You're a lucky man.

Thanks Mike... initial feeling is very positive on this build. It certainly is quite a bit more challenging than a Tamigawa type of kit - I am doing lots of dry fitting and having a really close look at the pictures and drawings in the destructions.

I want to do a decent job on this one, given the subject. With my Dad now gone, this is one of the more tangible things to remember him by. Luckily, I have another one of these kits in my stash. I will do that one up some other time, probably in a Cold Lake natural metal scheme (like the ones I flew at Base Flight).

ALF

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This will be one we all watch. Lucky with that flight. When my dad was in he flew a desk.

Glad you'll be watching, Phantom. I sure hope you chip in once and a while with some advice; this kit could have lots of potential gotchas what with the lack of locator pins and other uncertainties about how the pieces go together.

For example, I am just now putting some of the cockpit tub together, and I'm wondering where exactly to locate the ejection seat rails. I will post some pics later (maybe today) and see if you remember where they go.

ALF

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It was the canopy crank on the right hand side of the cockpit that gave me a headache. That and the huge amount of putty required involving the intakes.

DSC_0280-2.jpg

DSC_0281-2.jpg

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More progress, and a question for Phantom.

Here is a dry fit of where I think the seat rails go. Can you confirm that is correct? The instructions aren't clear, and there are no obvious locator pins or other clues. I like this kit (mostly), but things like this make it a challenge, and not for beginners!

P1090478.jpg

Here is the canopy crank that Phantom mentioned. I had a heck of a time figuring out which part of the resin to chop off, and how to orient the darn thing in the cockpit. I finally got it to sit correctly.

The canopy crank reminds me of a story... One dark and stormy night (can't you just imagine Snoopy typing this on top of his dog house?), I was flying into Thunder Bay Ontario in the back seat of a T-33, with a very experienced T-33 pilot flying from the front. Mario had over 1,200 hrs on the airplane, and I had just been qualified on it in North Bay the month before. Runway conditions were wet - a thunderstorm had just gone through. The runway in Thunder Bay is only 6,000 feet long, so a wet runway is not good with a T-bird. It had no anti-skid brakes, and was very prone to hydroplaning. We had no fuel left to go anywhere else, and it was almost midnight, so the firefighters and other emergency personnel were off duty. In other words, we had better not slide off the end of the runway, because nobody would be around to rescue us is we were trapped in the cockpit as a result of damage leaving the runway.

Mario briefed me before the approach that we would be opening the canopy to act as a speed brake after we had dropped below 80 knots on the runway. The canopy was built extremely solidly, and it was OK to open it at 80 knots as we rolled out. My job was to unlock the canopy using the large handle (one in each seat, with the linkage you see in this picture) after we touched down, and as soon as the airspeed dropped below 80 knots, I was to press the canopy actuator button to open it.

We touched down a bit fast, a bit long (very poor visibility, and a non-precision approach of course), and Mario slammed it on to try and stop it hydroplaning. He started braking and cursed as the nose swung with the slight crosswind and the hydroplaning. There was nothing to do but ride it out until the speed dropped a bit. I unlocked the canopy as he was cursing and the nose was going squirrelly. At 80 knots, he called "Canopy!", but my finger was already pressing the button. The noise level got suddenly very high as it cracked open and the wind came in. I also got a face full of water, as the spray from the nosewheel came up into the back seat (I had left my helmet visors up, not thinking about how it would get very wet and chilly after the canopy was opened).

The opened canopy did a quick job of slowing us down, and Mario was able to brake heavily as the speed dropped. We got stopped with very little runway left.

P1090474.jpg

There's lots of nice detail in this cockpit. Lots of photo-etch, and easy little knobs to paint silver. The side walls look really good to me; the T-33 is very dark inside, just like this pic shows.

P1090475.jpg

ALF

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In the previous pic, you can see where I used a silver leaf pen to make the typical scuff marks on the cockpit floor, where generations of pilots' feet have rubbed away the dark paint.

Now a little problem with the seats. My delays in starting this kit led to me pulling some parts out, then putting them all back in the box to set it aside and work on another project, more than once. The end result was damage to one of the seats. Note the one on the right has had its two ejection handles broken off.

P1090476.jpg

I took some small wire and bent it to make the handles. Not perfect, but good enough.

P1090477.jpg

The seats are close to being finished. Just some final touchups, and they'll be OK.

Hopefully this is enough nose weight. Comments, Phantom?

P1090479.jpg

ALF

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Your nose weight should be fine. Thats a lot more then I used. The cockpit to fuselage was a guess. I figured the horizontal bars on the fuselage must be were the cockpit went. But I am still not convinced its to low. I just don't know. Yours is looking just fine so far. Also very good recovery on the ejection seat handles.

I see you are holding off on the feet rests. Good idea mine broke off a bunch of times before finally being glued into place.

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Merry Christmas to all!

Now back to the serious business of modelling.

I was very happy with the way the cockpit turned out.

P1090543.jpg

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But then the happiness turned a bit sour. As Phantom said, the cockpit to fuselage join is a real guess. From the top, with the fuselage together, it looks not too bad, as long as you don't scrutinize too closely...

P1090547.jpg

But looking from underneath, it becomes apparent that the glueing is not easy.

P1090549.jpg

To make matters worse, after I got it pinched together, stuff started falling out of the cockpit. First was the front throttle. Then I heard something else rattling around, and it turned out to be the instrument panel (front). I fished it out with some tweezers, and managed to get it glued back in place, but the photo etch from the lower centre panel has gone missing. If I can't find it by rattling things around some more, I will have to paint that panel black. All because the kit is poorly thought out in the way the cockpit mates to the fuselage.

ALF

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Oh, and don't get me started about the poor fit of things! OK, too late - here's the diatribe (part 1).

The fuselage doesn't go together very well at all. I focused on getting the top seams to look as good as possible, which meant that the lower seams look terrible. Have I mentioned that nobody is allowed to look at the bottom of my models? There's a good reason for that - it's where I hide the mistakes.

Here's the rear lower fuselage fit. I think the exhaust pipe is too large for the space inside the rear portion of the tail. Because of the poor fit of the cockpit, I didn't spend much time dry fitting the fuselage (for fear I would snap even more stuff off), so I missed that fact before I got the front portion and top of the tail glued together. Looks like there'll be lots of filler here.

P1090548.jpg

And here is what Phantom was talking about for the intakes. The resin vents took a lot of trimming and dry fitting to get halfway OK.

P1090550.jpg

Here's a first dry fit of the intake. What a lousy fit! I will need to do some trimming just to get it in place, and it will take a lot of putty.

P1090551.jpg

This kit reminds me a bit of the Classic Airframes F-5A and F-5B series. Lots of nice resin detail, but absolutely atrocious fit in some areas. For this build, I will not use the resin flaps that I bought for it. I have another one of these kits, and I will keep the flaps for it. By then, I might have found my patience again...

Here you can see the nicely detailed instructions, with the resin flap pieces. Note that the kit flaps would have to be chopped out; I'm just not feeling up to it for this first try at this kit. I love the T-bird enough that I will be doing a better job the second time around, but for now I just want to focus on covering up the poor fit and making this one look decent. Details like dropped flaps can be left out for now.

P1090552.jpg

ALF

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You guys that are doing the 1/32 CT-33 are scaring me. The kit looks so good sitting in the box. The fit of the intakes look real bad, like they're for a different kit!! I'll wait and see how the build goes before trying mine. Good luck with the build!!

Don

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I'm almost of a mind to say that your misfortunes with this kit make me glad I'm sticking only to 1/72... except that I know that there are kits as bad or worse in 1/72nd, too!

I suspect it'll turn out great though!

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Thanks for the encouragement guys. The fit of the intakes and other major assemblies is just terrible! After a long series of minor trims and dry fits, I glued one part in place, waited for it to dry, then glued the remainder. I tried two different approaches, and neither one worked better than the other. One approach was to trim at the front of the pointy ends. The other approach was to trim the squared-off portion at the back. It's as if the parts were made too large, and off kilter a bit.

Here is the bottom, after I gave up and glued them both in place. Note also in this pic the poor fit of the cockpit into the fuselage.

P1090553.jpg

It was only after hours of work on the intakes that I realized the ducting should have been glued in place before! Here are the instructions (which I of course failed to consult...)

P1090554.jpg

I tried forcing the ducting into the intakes from the back, but there were parts that were too large to fit. There's no way I was going to rip off the intakes to put the ducting in...

P1090555.jpg

So here's what I did. I put some CA (super) glue on the top of the cockpit rear portion, to try and get it to sit where it should.

P1090556.jpg

I then chopped off some parts of the intake ducting, and used them to fill in the backs.

I remember from looking into the intakes of the T-bird that all you see is black, with some blocky shapes inside. After looking at 'normal' engines (axial-flow types) where the compressor blades are very visible, looking at the centripetal flow engine from the front is very strange.

These covers will block the direct viewing of the empty fuselage enough to make it look semi-OK from the front.

P1090557.jpg

ALF

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The Phantom's comments about the cockpit sitting too low are definitely valid. The front end in mine sits too low. I could tell by seeing just how low the ejection seat headrest was in the fuselage, on the front seat. So - I cheated. I pulled the seat as high up the rails as I could, and made it sit about the right height. The T-bird's seats are about the same height. Visibility from the back seat is very poor. Modern trainers have theatre-style seating, with the back seat up higher. Not so in this old beast!

P1090558.jpg

It's probably not too visible in this pic, but the front seat is well above the seat floor. I thought this was a better compromise than having the seat sitting way too low - fewer people will notice the gap at the bottom of the seat than would notice the fact the seat is way too low if fully inserted.

P1090559.jpg

The total lack of locating guides for the cockpit make this kit difficult to get right. Maybe my second time around will be better - whenever that happens.

Next up were the wings. I expected bad gaps at the wing/fuselage joins, so I decided to try a different technique. After some dry fitting, I discovered that the wing/fuselage join for the upper wing halves was actually very nice. So what I did was glue just the bottom wing half into the fuselage (without glueing the top wing halves to this one long piece yet). This took some jigging in itself, and I had to use a knife to pry the lower wing into the fuselage. After it was in place, I then glued just the wing top halves to the fuselage, using a bit of resin and tweezers to hold them at the right angle until they set.

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After all was solid, I then clamped the wings together and glued the top halves to the bottom halves.

P1090564.jpg

I checked the dihedral angle, and it looks about right.

P1090565.jpg

ALF

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To increase my motivation, I dry-fit the tip tanks in place. It's starting to look like a T-bird!

P1090566.jpg

Now for my least favourite part of the job. I applied putty all over the intake joins, and along the lower fuselage seams.

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Then I glued the tail planes in place. Their fit is also terrible! It's almost like two different sets of drawings were used, one for the fuselage part, and the other for the horizontal stabilizers. They don't match at all!

P1090570.jpg

I did some amount of trimming, then glued them in place.

P1090571.jpg

Next up is the scraping of the dried putty, and some attempts at smoothing and rescribing.

ALF

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Looking very impressive Alf. This will be one great looking T-Bird!!

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Gee what a, a, a.... :explode: of a model !

When you started I'll bet you didn't think you would have to do this much reconstructing of the kit just to build the model. Good work; :thumbsup:

You have more patience than me- mine would be in the dumpster and just a bad memory by now

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Well, i pulled my kit out of the stash to see just how bad it was. After 30 minutes of fitting and a little bit of scraping and fitting, i can see that this puppy is gonna be a LOT of work. I'm reminded of the worst ESCHI/Testors/Aurora/FisherPrice type kit. Too bad, i really like the Tbird. Gonna watch your build for pitfalls and workarounds, though i think Squadron Green might be the best workaround for the build. Good luck!!!

Don

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