Ocidental 1/48 Harvard






Four Aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Undoubtedly THE most recognized and most flown in prop driven military trainer in the history of aviation has to be the North American T-6 Texan. A design that just looks right and put North American on the road to success, the T-6 saw continuous military service from the early 40s to the early 90's when it was finally retired from the South African Air Force. There may still be some in service with other military units that I am not aware of, but frankly, 50 years is a heck of a long time.

Thanks to its robust construction, there are quite a large number of these planes still flying in the hands of warbird enthusiasts all over the world. The National Air Races held every year in Reno, Nevada even has a category for the T-6.

What is particularly intriguing about the T-6/Harvard is that it is not a particularly easy plane to fly! It was said that if you could master the Harvard, that flying a fighter would be a piece of cake. Brian Silcox's book Best of the Past pointed out this particular piece of information and it was quite a surprise to me. The Harvard was a version of the T-6 that was specifically built by Canadair to meet Commonwealth training requirements and is a bit different from the T-6. Externally the aft canopy and exhaust are giveaways to the Harvard. Inside, the throttles are reversed to what is normal in US planes. Whether this has been changed by warbird owners, I'm not sure. 

Like the T-6, many Harvards were modified in the early 50's to meet what was current training requirements. Most of the changes were to avionics systems as well as larger panes of plexiglass  in the canopy sections. Some aircraft were fitted with wiring for underwing hard points so that the aircraft could be used as COIN birds. Other than that, these were the same planes that were built during the war.



Molded in a lovely yellow plastic, the Ocidental kit at first glance seems to be based on the Monogram kit. However, it is a new tool and only superficially similar. After all, there are only so many ways of designing a kit! Unlike the Monogram version, this one has fully engraved panel lines, a goodly selection of underwing ordnance and separate canopy sections. The interior is very nicely done giving a full floor and side detailing. You also get both types of canopy sections; those with and without extra bracing.

This kit is also a Harvard, not a T-6. The biggest difference is the aft canopy section. The T-6's is shorter and the sheet metal area there is flat. On the Harvard, it is a bit longer and the sheet metal portion curves up. There is also the long exhaust pipe that is normal with most Harvards. This allowed heat to be brought into the cockpit as much training was done in Canada where it gets a mite chilly in the winter! It also appears that this kit might have a P-51D tail wheel, an often-made modification.

The instructions are really super. In addition to nice, clear construction steps, there are a myriad of photos of the real aircraft to assist the builder. Color callouts are given though only in a generic way and not with FS numbers. There is a large decal sheet offering markings for four aircraft. One each from Portugal, Canada, France and Great Britain. All except the Portuguese version are in overall yellow, hence the color of the plastic. The decals themselves are printed by Carpena so are of a very high quality. There are also photographs of each of the aircraft depicted on the sheet which is a very nice addition.

Overall, this looks like a super kit. Despite having been around for many years, I have never seen one built (of course, I don't see too many Monogram AT-6s either). I'll let the rivet counters fuss over any inaccuracies, but it sure looks like it will build into a very nice model.

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