scale models

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star

TR-597 with tail section of TR-550.
222 Training Squadron, 115 Wing, Hellenic Air Force, Souda, Greece, 1989

Last year, I saw some photos of a model built with this scheme and I was intrigued! A greek T-33A in orange, except for the tail section that was painted in the SEA green-brown colour scheme!

After some research, I found a photo of the real thing, together with the story behind it:

The T-33A TR-597 (s/n: 58-0597) was painted in orange as it was used as a target tug. It appears then that, sometime in 1989, it’s tail sustained fire damage. The genius mechanics at Souda Airforce Base in Crete, instead of scrapping the entire plane, managed to replace the damaged section by using the tail section of another – already scrapped – T-33A (that was painted in the SEA scheme).

Photo credit: Anthony Mylonakis

The “new” TR-597 was soon repainted in orange and there is only one known photo of it as evidence of this unique repair. This photo is not clear enough to reveal the serial number of the donor plane. However, I was able to trace the original discussion – in a Facebook group dedicated to the Greek T-33s – where people who had been there at the time confirmed that it was TR-550 (s/n: 51-17550):

The aircraft that was used to replace the tail section of TR-597 (that suffered fire damage sometime in 1989) was the 51-17550 which itself was written-off after in an accident on December 19, 1988 (catastrophic nose damage after a bad landing). There is information that the damaged tail section of the 597 went to the 550. The fate of this aircraft is unknown […] It was probably sold-off as scrap.

(translated from Greek to English by me)

It did not take long for me to decide to build a model of this myself.

I chose the kit from GWH, together with a few extras from Eduard: an interior detail set for the cockpit and the landing gear, a set for the ejections seats and a set of masks for the canopy. Finally, I ordered a set of decals for Greek T-33s from Icarus Decals.

The GWH kit is nice and the assembly proceeded without issues. However, just when I had almost finished adding details to the ejection seats, I read that the TR-597 was one of the Greek T-33As where the original ejection seats had been replaced with Martin-Baker Mk.5s. The closest matching seats I was able to find were a set of Quickboost resin seats, originally made for Phantoms. I am not sure they are 100% correct but they will have to do.

The work in progress

The finished model

Products Used

GWH Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star “Late Version”1/48L4821
Eduard T-33A Detail Set1/4849796
Eduard T-33A Seatbelts STEEL1/4849797
Eduard T-33A Masks1/48EX533
Quickboost British Phantom FG.1/FGR.2 seats with safety belts1/48QB48913
Icarus Decals Hellenic T/RT-33A Shooting Stars1/48IC48014