Tristars continue to be something of a rarity in the NG Models release schedule with only one or two every few months. To date there have only been 12 Tristar 500 releases but they have been some cracking choices and are a more diverse set than the 16 Lockness Tristar 500s made in the same period on the much inferior casting they have used. The latest is another great choice highlighting one of the smaller national carriers that found a use for the short Tristar and so it is the Air Lanka release I take a closer look at here.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
Despite there being a relative flurry of Tristar 500s in the past few years from Gemini Jets, Lockness / Aeroclassics and NG Models the only real competitor to the NG Models Tristar 500 is the old Dragon Wings version dating from the turn of the century. Certainly, the Gemini Jets and Lockness Models versions from the past couple of years can be easily discounted as they do not portray a real aircraft. They instead portray a weird Tristar hybrid without many of the features that make the 500 unique.
It helps that the standard-length NG Tristar is so good but that wouldn’t count for anything if NG had ignored the differences. As a recap they are:
Gemini got 1.5 of the 4 and Aeroclassics managed slightly better (about a 2 although the undercarriage and nose are worse). NG Models gets about a 3.75. My only criticism is that the complete shape of the middle engine fuselage fairing (frisbee) isn’t 100% spot on. It’s still a little too concave.
What you do get of course is the perfect nose shape, beautiful fuselage and amazing tail section. The latter is particularly nice with an excellent engine to fuselage width and perfect angles. The complex tailcone, engine exhaust area is tightly fitted and looks great. The wings of course demonstrate the extended wingtips and a good angle. These are all major features that have been incorrect or poorly reproduced on the competition.
The undercarriage is very attractive but does repeat the slight errors of the standard-length version. The forward process on the nosegear is a little large and the angle of the maingear doors is not quite correct.
What little criticism of the NG Tristars there has been has been centred on the angle of the forward engine rims but it is pleasing to see that NG Models has recently improved this and the engine rims correctly angle backwards (however read on in the quality section). This modification to the mould removes the only real problem it had and elevates it from the 9 I have previously given it to a 10.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
Air Lanka operated quite a few standard length Tristars in the 1980s mainly leased from Air Canada and All Nippon. They only actually received two frames new and they were the pair of Tristar 500s 4R-ULA and ULB, which arrived in 1982. Both would serve a long-term lease with British Airways between 1985 and 1988 but either side of this they wore the same livery up until they were withdrawn in 2000.
The only difference in scheme is that in some late 1998ish photos the aircraft does not have the Sri Lankan flag on the starboard side ahead of the titles. I have not found a single photo to suggest that it never had the flag on the port side so I am bemused that the model does not have the flag on either side at all. This is clearly an error on NG’s part and even if there is somewhere a photo of the frame without the flag on the port side it is not at all representative of the aircraft’s service history. This is disappointing.
Another element that is missing that could have been shown is the aircraft name. It wasn't always carried but in the early part of service before the BA lease 4R-ULA was named 'City of Colombo' as can be seen in the photo above. After the lease for most of its history it was known as 'City of Sri Jayewardenepura'. Yes for a short time towards the end of her career no name was carried so it is not necessarily an error but it is a missed opportunity.
Something that is another mistake is the colour of the doors. The parts surrounded by the red cheatline should be outlined in white but on the model they are grey.
The rest of the scheme is accurate. The red colour is a perfect match and the cheatline placement spot on. The title font and size is good and the printing quality of the Peacock tail logo is exquisite. The small TRISTAR titles on the no 2 engine are present and so is the rego suffix on the tailtop and nosegear doors. Nonetheless, this is probbaly the shoddiest work I have ever seen from NG on a livery application. The research is poor and the design incorrect in several places.
SCORE – 6
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
The base template for the L-1011 has given NG Models the license to run riot with their printing detail and there is no mistaking the fineness and quality on show here. The underside, an area lesser manufacturer’s leave largely vanilla, has more than 50 bits of detail on it. NG have taken printing to another level and this L-1011 has the finest.
Having said all that there is one part of the print on this Tristar 500 I am not totally happy with, and that is the cockpit windows. It is the two side windows on each side that are not quite large enough – a factor highlighted by the cheatline. The outer windows should almost totally fill its width but on the model they do not quite. It does not damage the overall look of the model too much but it is not correct.
This month I received both the Gulf Air and Sri Lankan Tristars and after seeing the first one I was hopeful that NG had resolved its issues with the gearhubs on its L-1011s as the Gulf example had all ten correctly fitted with detailed hubs. Unfortunately, this was a false dawn and this model has only six of the hubs the correct way around. At least it is the 6 outer facing hubs that are correct but the inability of the staff to fit them all properly is a continuing annoyance.
Another minor but annoying qc issue is the angle of the underwing engine nacelles. NG fixed the mould so that they were not flat fronted, however the staff that made this model clearly expect them to be so has fitted them to the nacelles so that they are instead of allowing for the slight angle they ought to have. You can see from the side that the nacelles point upwards ever so slightly to force the flat front.
SCORE – 7
I want to see more NG Models Tristars, however the lapses in the making of this model are a little concerning as the missing flag, name and door outline are super obvious if the designer had looked at more than a handful of photos from the one side. The QC issues are small but annoying and this model receives far away the lowest score of any of the 30 NG Models releases I have reviewed. I really hope that NG are not losing the high-quality finish that we have come to expect from them and that this is a one off. It is still a better model than you would expect from most of their competitors, however it doesn’t meet the high standards they have set themselves.
FINAL SCORE – 23/30
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.