After looking in detail at the most recent Aeroclassics Tu-154 yesterday it seems only appropriate to take a look at the competing NG Models version today. While Aeroclassics can be said to produce an excellent range of models I have to say that, despite growing its mould catalogue, NG Models has been releasing high numbers of models but ones that are too often the same as Phoenix, Gemini and JC Wings releases. Sadly, that means more interesting releases are getting sidelined and since this model was announced in May there hasn't been a single other Tu-154 from them.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
This mould debuted in May this year so it is unsurprising that it beats the 2002 Aeroclassics mould hands down, especially as in general NG have always produced high quality castings. Nonetheless that doesn't mean they shouldn't be compared or that this mould is faultless.
In April I looked in detail at both the Tu-154B-2 and Tu-154M samples from NG Models and it was the B-2 version that needed quite a bit of work done on it and it was the M, which required less. This is perhaps why the B-2 version hasn't been heard of since and maybe even why this mould has only been used once so far. For the sample reviews see:
The nose and cockpit shape on this mould are near perfect, plus it comes with the large right sided aerial just aft of the cockpit. This beautiful shaping continues along the rest of the fuselage, which of course is totally seamless, even where the vertical stabiliser joins the roof. Note also the pair of aerials under the fuselage near the midline.
Pleasingly NG have reduced the size of the nosegear tyre from the samples but without impacting the straight back of the aircraft. The nosegear door is well shaped and sized.
The maingear is very fine and well sized. It connects to the large underwing gear pods, which have the correct squared off profile of the Tu-154M compared to the rounder pods of the B-2. The only complaint here is that the maingear doors are missing.
At the wings NG have crafted the only accurate Tu-154M wing in 400 scale. The wings attach firmly and tightly to the fuselage. There is also a lot of fine flap detailing and really nice boundary layer fences. The shape of the wing of the M is diagnostic has it has a double-kinked leading edge and longer flap track fairings that push beyond the rear wing margin. The wing is a work of art aside from that the wingtips could be a little lower.
The Soloviev engines of the M version are noticeably chunkier than those of the B-2 and have the distinctive clamshell reversers. One of the few criticisms of the mould can be made here though as they appear to be mounted slightly too high with the pylons joining at the midpoint rather than more towards the top as they should.
The exhaust of the no 2 engine is also accurate including the curved fillet down to the nozzle. Of course unlike the other Tu-154 moulds in 400 scale the exhaust is not a separate piece to the rest of the fuselage.
Finishing up at the tail the HF aerial spike is accurately pointy and the slightly humped no 2 engine intake looks good, although perhaps it still could be a little larger?
Overall this is an excellent mould that finally gives us an accurate looking Tu-154. The only changes I'd like to see are the addition of maingear doors, slightly lower mounted side engines and slightly lower wingtips.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
The Tu-154, especially earlier versions, had the habit of staining the rear fuselage with a sooty residue, which is why Aeroflot modified some of its Tu-154s to where the dark tailed livery variation shown on this model. This aircraft wasn't built until October 1989 and so was a late delivery to the flag carrier.
There are multiple shots of this frame still wearing its CCCP reg taken in 1991 at destinations such as Lisbon, Prague, Paris and Moscow. They show that NG has gotten the dark blue cheatline colour spot on.
The position of the cheatline is good and at both ends it curves correctly - forward up to the cockpit windows, and aft up onto the tail. The blue triangle on the side engines is also well sized.
The smaller details look good as well, such as the rego on the nosegear door, correctly sized and fonted reg on the no 2 engine, plus of course the main titles. My only query is the spacing of the reg on the underside of the wings. As I understand it it didn't have that spacing where the flap track fairings cut through it, but I admit I haven't seen any photos to prove that.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
The printing detail on the model is the usual top quality level you expect from NG. Just look at that belly printing and compare it to the completely white belly of the Aeroclassics version. There is however one minor print issue and that is that on the right side the very tops of the windows appear to peak above the cheatline, whereas on the left side they correctly do not.
It would also be nice if the central no 2 engine intake had a dark rather than silver internal hole.
From a quality perspective the mould is well put together, however at magnification on the underside there is some slight cracking where the left wing joins the fuselage. It is very hard to see.
SCORE - 8
There is absolutely no denying that this Tu-154 release blows any other Tu-154M made in 400 scale out of the air, however that isn't the issue. The issue is that NG Models don't seem especially interested in using the mould and like their L-1011s and 747SPs we appear destined to one or two models every 3 months. At that rate it'll be years and years before a decent number of models have been made, which will mean people, including myself, continue to have to fall back on the second-rate but available Aeroclassics releases. That is a shame and hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more from this mould soon.
FINAL SCORE - 26/30
I'm Richard Stretton an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale models. On this page I take a detailed look at new releases.
This site is free. Please donate to keep it going.