Canadair T-33 Silver Star kit-bash

The Model

A few years ago I built Hobbycraft Canada's kit of this aircraft, with minimal improvements. The resulting model looked nice, but unfortunately never looked quite "right" to my eye. It became obvious that the model had a number of shape problems, the most important ones being intakes that are too short, an oddly-bulged mid fuselage that makes the model look over-inflated, a rear canopy fairing that's too short and misshapen, and cockpit sills that not only slope downwards towards the front, but also converge when they should be parallel. These faults result in a model that, to me at least, looks more like a caricature of the T-bird than the real thing.

For a more accurate T-bird, I'd intended to combine the best parts from Hobbycraft's kit with the more accurately-shaped fuselage from the Testors/Hawk kit. Upon further examination, though, it became apparent that Testors' kit, though more accurate than Hobbycraft's, nevertheless had its share of problems as well. It was at this point that I acquired the second-hand Monogram P-80, and decided to make it the basis for my model.

Monogram's P-80 dates back to the mid 'Seventies and is beginning to show its age, with its limited detail and raised panel lines. With just a little extra work, however, it can be built into a very impressive model. More importantly to me, its shape and dimensions are very nearly perfect, meaning that it could be relatively easily converted into an accurate model of the T-33. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of surgery involved! The major components all fit surprisingly well, though, despite the fact that they were sourced from three different kits. More importantly, the resulting model "looks" like a
T-bird, and its scale dimensions match those of the full-sized aircraft very closely.

You can check the labeled photos of the unpainted model show the major work carried out.

Model and photos by Dave Askett.

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