The Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle Advanced Trainer is a new family of supersonic trainers and light attack aircraft developed by KAI and Lockheed Martin. It is the first supersonic aircraft developed by South Korea. The aircraft entered service with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) in 2005 and has been ordered by several other nations such as Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The kit is a snap-fit kit of the T-50 as it appears in ROKAF services as an advanced trainer. It is part of Academy’s new MCP (multi-color plastic) series like the recently released F-4J “Showtime 100” kit. The consists of 21 parts molded either in white, black or clear styrene with a clear styrene stand to display the aircraft on. The parts are extremely well molded and surprisingly include a lot of nice molded-in detail, something not normally expected in a snap-fit kit. For example, while the cockpit is molded all in black styrene, with a little bit of careful painting, the details really pop out, as shown in the photos. The instrument panels are well molded and depict several multi-function display screens for each cockpit. Some of the smaller instruments are also molded-in, but other parts of the panel can be improved by raiding your decal stash for extra dials and other instrument decals. There is also a lot of nicely engraved detail throughout the kit, however, as the kit is intended to be put together quickly, this detail will be lost on most young modelers. It would seem to hint that a more mainstream kit of the T-50 is coming as the cockpit detail is really wasted when the kit is assembled according to the instructions.
One very nice feature of the kit is the intakes which are molded-in single pieces, while retaining their circular cross section. One down side is that there are no blanking plates or a representation of the turbine face, so you can see through the kit until you mount it on the stand. The fit of the intakes to the fuselage is very good and if care is taken in cleaning up the sprue attachment points and then lining everything up, the seams look like all of the other panel lines.
As I wanted to see how long it would take to assemble the kit out of the box, in my first run through, I did not glue anything together or paint anything. Building the kit took less than half an hour and was actually fun due to the great fit.
The kit also includes a set of stickers, not decals, depicting the first aircraft in service with the ROKAF in a high visibility white and red scheme. The stickers had good adhesive and stayed put once installed, but the adhesive was not so heavy or strong to preclude adjusting the stickers as needed. Be careful in applying the stickers as some of them have a lot of clear film around them, which really shows any finger prints. The stickers include the red stripe that runs along the centerline of the bottom of the aircraft with black outlines of some details such as the emergency arresting hook and other details. The molded details in these areas are also very well done, so as a result the stickers will not lay flat or conform to these details. Also, as a heads-up, wait to install the lower blade antenna and the centerline drop tank until all of the stickers are on, as you will need to punch holes through the decals to install both of these parts. The stickers took longer to install than construction did as I wanted to be sure they were right the first time. I think the stickers will be very popular with younger modelers as they are easy to install, but I wish the kit had also included a sheet of regular decals as these would be preferable to more experienced modelers and would not have obscured as much detail as the stickers do.
The clear display stand is a must for the kit, as it does not include any landing gear at all. The stand mounts securely into the exhaust nozzle allowing the aircraft to be displayed in lots of different attitudes or angles of bank.
Even though this is a snap-fit kit, it was fun to build and offered a little diversion for a snowy night. Fortunately, the stickers are fairly easy to remove and the kit comes apart fairly easily as well because I spotted a really cool looking Indonesian T-50 online, so now that this review is done, I am looking forward to seeing what the kit looks like when assembled, filled and painted!
I recommend this kit, especially if you have budding modelers or modelers to-be as it is a quick and straight-forward build. My only real gripe is that I wish Academy had also included a set of regular decals for those modelers who like to paint their kits. Thank you to MRC for the review sample and to IPMS-USA for letting me build it.