1. Plastikmodellbauclub Nürnberg e.V.
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Lockheed T2V-1 Sea Star, Scratch 1/48

The original T2V-1 (1962: T-1A):

The succes of the T-33 jet trainer in the USAF and the lack of a comparable aircraft in the US Navy made Lockheed to conceive an aircraft suitable for aircraft carrier use. To provide a better view for the instructor pilot the seat was raised resulting in a sizeable fairing aft of the cockpit and a very much enlarged empennage. The engine was changed to the stronger Allison J-33A-24A, and a - then new - boundary control installed. Lockheed won a contract in May 1954, after carrier suitability test and unevitable modifications the new aircraft - called Sea Star - went into squadron use in 1958. But its service life was short. 1960 the Sea Star was supplanted by North Americans' superior T2J Buckeye although quite a few soldiered on as station hacks or for internal training.


The model:

In 1/48 there is still no kit available. Having built the F5F-1 entirely from scratch (see F5F-1 model) I expected no unsurmountable difficulties converting a T-33 into a T2V-1 Sea Star by adding a scratch hump and a new empennage (homemade canopy as usual). So I bought an old Academy  T-33 kit.

I should have had a closer look! - The real T2V-1 had a 26,6 in. insert in front of the wings and 12 in. after them. Was to be made in model form too. If the T-33 horizontal and vertical tail was removed there wasn't more left than the lower half. Removing the T-33 air intakes left some sizeable holes to be filled somehow. So altogether making a complete fuselage (definitely no wood) from the outset seemed to be more practical , and, not to forget, also new air intakes were needed. Taking care of some other differences finally only the kit wings, tip tanks, nose gear well and doors and the main wheels could be used.

I don't think somebody will be nutty enough to make a model the same way.  But some of the construction details may be helpful in other ways. Modeling without resin parts is possible and cheaper. If somebody can't resist the urge to get a 1/48 Sea Star model (in 1/72 Sword now offers one) referring to "Naval Fighters No. 42 by Steve Ginter is recommended though in the planform drawing the horizontal tailplanes are of different size.

Form: No, you don't need to carve and sand a wooden block.  That's the pre WW II  way. Nowadays Polyester putty is available. That's a paste that after  mixed with some percent of hardener gets as hard as wood in a few minutes.  It can be sanded and polished too.

In my case I made two discs of appropriate size (scale diameter less thickness of the plastic to be used) spaced in rear fuselage length. To save putty most of the inside room was filled with foamed material. Then a layer of polyester was applied, and after beginning of the hardening roughly carved to shape. Afterwards sanded to an even surface (no polishing needed).

After forming both fuselage shells - see below - the discs were removed and inserted into the fuselage for strengthening.

At right: Form for rear fuselage (plug for sanding in a drill).


Plastic parts: For forming the fuselage shells plastic sheet of 0,3 millimeter thickness was just right. As described in my page C "cockpit hoods scratch" plastic of slightly larger size than needed was softened over a toaster and then laid over the form with gentle pressure (not pulled with force!). This is made easier (and good for your hands) by application of wooden strips at both ends. If all went well pencil lines show where to cut. Repeat procedure for the other fuselage half. Narrow strips fixed lengthwise on one inside help to achieve a firm joint. The front half of the fuselage is made the same way though no need for strips in vicinity of the cockpit and wheel well.

plastic sheet with hand holds Softening over toaster plastic laid over form (form fastened to work bench)
pencil lines show where to cut thin strips ensure better fit of rear fuselage parts one half of the front fuselage formed over form


Cockpit: Due to the rounded form of the fuselage front and rear cockpits had to be inserted before mating the appropriate fuselage halves. The cockpit itself was built up with thin plastic sheet, the instrument panels on the side consoles were made by forming the various knobs from the rear, pushed in with a needle or a sharp pointed pencil. If only a thin layer of black is applied on the upper side the knobs shine slightly through. For levers thinned plastic sprue or wire was used. The instrument panel is a decal, the instruments made by use of MS WORD, "Autoforms". There is no need for superdetailing as in final form they are pretty small.

Begin with a background in the color of the instrument panel (in my case medium gray), insert a black "Autoforms"  square with rounded corners, insert a white or light blue disc. Fill in a slightly smaller black disc to create a rimed disc, then add an arrow and white rectangles. Finally add small discs in the corners of the instrument bezel. File as JPEG. Open data file and cut out instrument as closely as possible.

When all instruments were made they were inserted into a MS table, background color as needed. Filed again, then printed on neutral white decal sheet. Caution! There are two kinds. For ink or laser print. Ink won't work on a laser sheet and vice versa.

Provisional cockpit shown at right, light gray paint to follow.
homemade instrument panel
                       Cockpit  scratch built


Fuselage and wings: When the cockpits were ready they were inserted in one fuselage half, also the front gear well, cutting out the appropriate opening. To make the fuselage joint sturdier some strips were added on the inside. After all had been glued together the second half of the nose gear well opening was cut out. Then broad tape was wound around the still incomplete nose. This cavern was filled with polyester and sanded to form after it had hardened.

Wings (no photo): As the T2V-1 had straight leading edges the kit wings had to be modified, the holes being filled with polyester. To show slightly opened ventral airbrakes the kit parts were removed and a shallow well fixed on the inside.


Mating front and rear fuselage, polyster nose cap


Air intakes: In principle made the same way as the fuselage, but as they were slighty offset to the fuselage, a separate front part was needed. Several layers of putty (with adequate drying time between) were needed to get a smooth transition.
Air intakes, form on the left side Filling with putty


"Hump" and empennage: The "hump" behind the cockpit was made in the usual way. The vertical tail consists of thin plastic with internal ribs (for wings I'd have used a balsa wood core), the rear edges thinned down to get a sharp trailing edge. The horizontal tail parts were made of plastic in appropriate thickness carved and sanded to form. Rudders, trim tabs and panel lines engraved afterwards.
Making the "hump" behind the canopy, also see hold vertical strabiliser sheet plastic and ribs, horizontal ones thicker plastic sanded to form


Model with fuselage hump and empennage cemented on. Thin engraved panel lines.


Cockpit hood: Again no need to carve and sand a wooden block!  Once again the form was made of polyester putty (used for both the canopy and the hump to get an even transition).  Making a new cockpit enclosure was mandatory as the one of the Sea Star had a rounded windshield and the rear part was higher. As freshly mixed polyester paste tends to flow a little bit a tub was needed to get the exact cross-section of the to make canopy. For this clear PVC was laid over the cockpit opening, its planform marked onto the PVC. This was used as a template for forming the tub. For the canopy clear plastic (PVC) was needed this time, but otherwise the procedure is the same. See page C, "cockpit hoods". The windshield rests in a groove, for additional strength with a tongue in a narrow slit in the middle. After the part to remain clear was covered with clear tape it was glued in with epoxy glue (any excess wiped away). After this had dried small imperfections were filled with putty and sanded smooth.
             Fixing windscreen into pre-cut ridge, front end with tonque into slit                                                         Formed PVC-hood over Polyester form with hand hold


Ejection Seats: Real ejection seat pans are made of thin metal sheet whereas in most cases model resin seat walls are too thick, even more so in kit form. In effect in my case the resin seats I had bought didn't fit into the cockpit tub.  So making them myself was inevitable. It's far easier than one may expect. Additionally one avoids the labourious task of painting some awkward details of resin seats. And, not to forget: Ejection seat handles have black or yellow resp. red spirals not segments as usually shown by models (see photos of original MB seats).

How it was done can be seen in the lower right photo. All you need are blocks of "FIMO" plasticine. Knead a small amount of black and yellow respectively until soft and then form thin sausages. Place them against each other, twist them against each other and at the same time gently pull them outwards until the desired thickness (= thinness) is reached. Form a pretzel and place on a piece of sheet metal (e.g. from fast food tray). On top, as in the original, a piece of (red) FIMO across the open ends, which also helps in the later fastening. Heat the whole thing over a candle flame until steam / smoke rises. Then the part is firm but still flexible and can be installed with superglue. Marked handles then do likewise.




Landing gear: As the Sea Star had an enforced and quite different landing gear only the mail wheels could be used from the kit. Making a new one isn't so difficult as it may appear. It also solves the problem of painting the visible hydraulic rod convincingly. Not to speak of massive rings that are clamps of thin sheet metal in the real aircraft. A nail of suitable diameter not only looks just right it also makes the leg sturdy. Cut off the pointed tip and the head. Then get some tube material. If the nail fits in flush cut off the required length and add the missing parts. Either from the kit or homemade. If an Evergreen tubing doesn't have the required diameter shove the nail in and heat this assembly with a candle flame (constant turning recommended). Remove and pull both ends apart. This will make the plastic to ly flush with the nail. Cut off required length.

Landing light: The rounded end of a paint brush was pressed into thin aluminum sheet to get a bowl shape. A small hole was drilled into the middle to accept a light bulb (clear plastic sprue thinned over a candle). Cut off horizontally, said bulb was inserted and then filled with clear epoxy. An alternative solution would be to spread a thin layer of epoxy on a smooth surface and press the bowl slightly in. Cut out after epoxy has hardened.

Anti shimmy cylinder: Rod with a layer of thin copper wire.

The model nears completition (only wings, wheels and gray parts are kit parts).



Paint: The then standard paint scheme was "Insignia White" (FS 17875) and "International Orange" (FS 12197). While white colour is to be found in every modellers stock, I could not get "International Orange". As this colour is darker than "Dayglo Red" I mixed Dayglo with dark red. In the result I got the right shade but had a whole bunch of problems with it (a second layer appears darker and so on). Sometimes the model was in danger to end in the trash bin. Well, that's modeling.

Markings: Markings for a T2V-1 of the Memphis Naval Air Station, as seen in "Ginter, Naval Fighters No. 42". Unlike seen on Sword's 1/72 kit, the last letter was not in the white field. Made by MS WORD on neutral decal paper for inkjet printing (inkjet printer on laser paper would not work). The national insignia was also made by myself, because it is usually shown much too blue in decals.



General ideas and tips for modeling see "Modeling ABC"