De Agostini is a major Italian corporation, which has a publishing arm producing magazines in combination with scale models, which either need to be constructed or come pre-built. They have produced many titles several of which have involved aerospace models such as 1:72 WW1 fighters and Space vehicles. They have also produced airliner models for a series for Japan Air Lines. This usually involves producing a surprising range of unique moulds in 1:400 scale. These are not up to modern 1:400 standards but can range from poor to pretty decent. I have largely ignored these as being, on the Model Power end of the spectrum, too close to toys rather than models but the appearance of a recent 4-part Aeroflot series including a new Yak-42 mould is way too good to pass up. I managed to acquire one from eBay so let’s take a look.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
This is clearly going to be an obscure mould that isn’t going to see a lot of usage, which sadly means it will share a lot in common with the only other Yak-42 made in 400 scale – by Seagull in 2014. They managed only a single obscure release before disappearing (although they did two Yak-42s in 500 scale).
The Yak-42 itself is an unusual looking type mixing together the relatively primitive Soviet-era engines with attributes that make the type suitable for operations at airfields with limited facilities. Thus, the result is a 737-200 sized aircraft with three engines designed in the 1970s. It also has a T-tail, twin bogey maingear, two sets of internal airstairs and an internal APU. It also has a much wider fuselage than the Tu-134 it was designed to replace, which can seat 6 abreast.
The other moulds in this series are not very impressive (especially the Tu-154 and 737-800) but this Yak-42 is surprisingly decent. Most of the mould is diecast aside from the stabilisers, engine inners and landing gear. The shape of the fuselage is good but not perfect. The quality of the cockpit region is obscured somewhat by the lacklustre printing but looks decent. It is the underside of the nose that lets it down a little as the curve upwards is not pronounced enough. Even so it has a sharp nosecone and looks like a Yak-42.
Towards the rear of the fuselage the no 2 engine exhaust is finely moulded at the tailcone, although the fairing above it is not quite square enough to sit flush with the tailplane. The wings slot in to the fuselage tightly and the shape of the wings themselves looks good. The wings angle downwards slightly as they should and there is great moulded in detail for the flaps and fairings.
From the side the no 1 and 3 engines are well sized and moulded aside from a solid exhaust. The number two engine intake area is nicely shaped and has the frisbee style fairing ahead of it. It is true that this part of the mould could perhaps do with a little more finishing quality but considering the source the mould doesn’t disappoint too much. The big issue with the engines is from the front the engine fanblades are far too visible. The no 1 and 3 engines should be set back some way, and are not, but the no 2 engine fan should not be visible at all, whereas on the model it is right at the intake. This is a little disappointing.
The vertical stabilizer and T-tail are well shaped and fitted with strong detailing of the rudder. Impressively the circle for the starboard side APU on the tail intake is also moulded in.
The last point is the undercarriage which is static but surprisingly detailed. Unfortunately, most of the detailing is hidden by being completely black but all the landing gear has nicely detailed tyrehubs and gearlegs.
If there is something that let’s this model down, aside from the engine fans, it isn’t the mould. It isn’t perfect and could do with some fine-tuning around the nose, tailcone and no 2 intake but overall it is actually rather good. Certainly, it has plenty of potential, which makes it a double shame it is unlikely ever to receive the range of models it deserves. It certainly out-competes the Seagull version from 2014, which had inferior shaping at the nose, tail and tailcone plus a cradle mount mould.
SCORE – 7
PAINT & LIVERY
Obviously, this model illustrates an Aeroflot Yak-42 but unfortunately not one that ever existed. The first Yak-42 to fly was registered CCCP-1975 not CCCP-19751 and the mould wouldn’t fit such an early example anyway as the prototypes were different in several factors. Nowadays there is an RA-19751 on display in Moscow but it is not wearing this scheme and there never was a CCCP- registered example. This is a shame, doubly so as De Agostini clearly haven’t been doing much research before implementing the scheme on the model either.
Broadly the scheme is correct in that the colours are ok (the blue may be slightly too dark) and major elements like the Soviet flag and cheatline structure are ok. Since this is a fantasy aircraft, I can only compare it to other Aeroflot Yak-42s. Looking at photos there are a few areas of concern, several of which merge with the printing detail.
Most importantly the cheatline is not level and is too low at the nose meaning that rather than having a straight cut across the nose as it ought to have it curves upwards. This is in keeping with the position of the cockpit, which is too low - but more of that in the next section.
All the photos I have seen show a thin blue stripe on the no 1 and 3 engines, which is missing on the model. The font being used for the main Aeroflot titles is also incorrect being far too square and not rounded enough. Ironically the font used for the registration on the tail has the opposite problem and is too curvy and not squared off enough.
Lastly the tips of the stabilisers and wings should be an orange colour not the same red as the Soviet flag. The printing of the model is a weakpoint and the replication of Aeroflot colours is rather slipshod, not helped by using a fantasy registration.
SCORE – 6
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
It is perhaps poor form to criticize the print quality on a model made for a magazine too strongly but the printing on this model is weak. The finish is ok but there is a stark lack of detail and accuracy present. In addition to the issues raised in the livery section the print template used for the model is wrong in several basic areas.
It has already been mentioned that the cockpit is too low but the printing on it is poor also. There are separate cockpit windows but with dark blue separating the black windows and no frames it is super-hard to see them.
Printing detail, aside from the bare minimum, is almost absent. There are no markings for aerials and on the belly no baggage doors, undercarriage doors and not even the outline for the rear airstairs. This is a real shame.
In addition, the doors are just plain wrong in terms of both location and configuration. The L1 and R1 doors are way too low and instead of there being a second door ahead of the wing and then an emergency exit above the wing there are two small emergency exits instead. Charitably the model shows the configuration of windows on the prototype but not on the production aircraft. Even if it was supposed to be the prototype the rest of the livery doesn’t match it (main titles and position of the RK-42 titles). To top it all off the door and exit outlines are in black rather than the blue and white they ought to be.
The model also has a print defect on the left side with a smudge on the print of the emergency exits. On the other side the model doesn’t show the typical bare metal section after the APU exhaust on the tail (which again fits with the prototype but not production examples the livery matches). The APU exhaust itself could do with being black. Lastly the engine inners and fans are brilliant silver and the tyre hubs and gearlegs fully black.
Construction of the model itself is very good and the model comes with a rather nice stand. De Agostini clearly aren’t up to decent print standards and have done the least they needed to. Even that hasn’t been done particularly well and the rather good mould looks a lot less good with the basic and inaccurate printing applied.
SCORE – 4
Ok, this model gets a very poor score I admit and it feels almost wrong to be giving it the scrutiny I have; however, I am super happy to have it in my fleet. Why is that? Well, it is a commendable mould and the only Yak-42 available aside from the inferior and hard to find Seagull Avioimpex release. With a few relatively minor tweaks the mould would be very good. Give it some decent printing and base it on a real aircraft and the score would skyrocket upwards. As it is beggars can’t be choosers.
With almost all brands focusing on modern Boeings and Airbuses I seriously doubt there’ll be a competing Yak-42 anytime soon and that’ll leave 3D printed versions as the only alternatives. I’ve already seen some decent customs of this model in other liveries on Facebook. I wish that the mould could be used by others but as it is the De Agostini Yak-42 is a worthwhile fleet addition despite the poor printing that lets it down so much.
FINAL SCORE - 17
26/1/2021 11:24:26 pm
I believe this was the first of a series of 'Aeroflot History' models planned to be released one at a time with a magazine, much like Model Power models. After releasing this and an IL-18, I think the series has been abandoned, which is a great shame as there was potential for more Soviet airliners to be made, not done by anyone else. However reading this review and seeing pics of the IL-18s, these are clearly aimed at the 'toy' market for less discerning collectors. Will pass!
26/1/2021 11:30:49 pm
4 issues were produced. They did a Tu-154 and 737-800 as well. The Yak is the best of them
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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.
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