In a sea of 400 scale releases that all look the same Aeroclassics can at least be relied upon to produce an unrivalled range of airline / aircraft choices. Unfortunately they also haven't improved their product in over a decade and so, especially in recent years, it can be buyer beware in relation to livery accuracy and especially printing quality. Even so, many collectors, myself included, find themselves still willing to take the gamble because they are the only viable option for a lot of models. September's Ukrainian Tupolevs are a great example of this and here I take a look at how one of those turned out.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
This ancient Tu-154 mould made a comeback in 2020 thanks to Yu ModeL paying to get it back up and running. I reviewed one of their pair of releases back in December 2020 - see:
Since then Aeroclassics have used it 12 times, including the four from September. That's great for Soviet airliner fans but to be honest the mould is far from Aeroclassics best and despite being repaired has not been updated in anyway. I admit however that hasn't stopped me buying 7 of the 12!
It isn't the only Tu-154 mould available as Phoenix have recently used their version once and NG Models have a new Tu-154M, which they have also used once. The Phoenix mould is based on the same casting as this one (due to the TucanoLine scandal - see the hsitory of Tucano here), however it has been updated by Phoenix nicely with new undercarriage. The NG Models Tu-154 release will get a detailed review soon here but my review of the samples of the M version at least confirmed it was a strong 154.
Comparing this mould to the real aircraft there are clearly areas for improvement. The fuselage shape works quite well but the nosecone is not perfect. The other obvious issue has always been the height of the nosegear which gives the aircraft a nose high orientation. Phoenix lowered their nosegear and I’d have thought it would have been easy enough for this mould to have done the same, but the change hasn’t been made.
Obviously given its age the mould is a cradle fit and doesn't have slot in wings. The wings have the correct downward slope of the real thing but they are the wings of a Tu-154B and so lack the correct flap track fairings on the trailing edge and double kink in the leading edge. The triple main bogeys are a good height, although the gearhubs aren’t as nice as the Phoenix.
The tail and rear fuselage exhaust for the no 2 engine are one piece to allow for the fuselage to be used for both major variants of the 154. This makes sense but does leave a rather obvious seam near the tailcone and especially on the underside the join is a little clumsy. This model is helped in this sense by the all blue exhaust piece.
The shape of the bulging #2 engine intake is nice and the form of the exhaust good also. The tailshape is decent but the forward spike on the tailtop is once again too blunt. Lastly the horizontal stabilisers are a one piece fitting that sits atop the tail creating another seam - that is rather obvious.
This is an old mould, dating from 2002, so your expectations for it need to be inline with that. I would have liked to see the fixed up mould reappear with new nosegear at least, which if shorter would fix its biggest issue. Modifications to the tail area and correct Tu-154M wings are perhaps rather a lot to expect given the situation in China and Aeroclassics in general.
I'm detracting points as follows:
Nose shape -0.5
Wing form -1
Three visible seamlines -1
Tail spike shape -0.5
Obviously this isn't an award winning mould but like several older Aeroclassics moulds I'm still willing to accept it, for now at least.
SCORE - 6
PAINT & LIVERY
It is the airline here that enticed me to buy this model. There aren't many Ukrainian airlines made in 400 scale and almost all that have been made have been modern Western jets. Although NG Models have a superior Tu-154 how long will it be before they get to an Air Ukraine version?
This livery wasn't Air Ukraine's first scheme as unsurprisingly that kept the Aeroflot cheatline. This new scheme was gradually applied to the fleet but in keeping with the times in the mid-90s it was applied with whatever paint was available. That means the shade of blue especially was highly variable, and even the pattern of the tail lines wasn't necessarily uniform.
This aircraft actually wasn't painted in this scheme until after 2000 judging by photos on Airliners.net . Aeroclassics are rather notorious for often getting colours too dark and while there were Air Ukraine Tu-154s with a dark blue tail, like UR-85482 here, this aircraft doesn't appear to have been one of them. Photos such as this one and this one suggest the blue should be substantially lighter than it is here and also that the yellow should be more golden too.
I'd also suggest that the registration on the tail should be slightly larger and maybe the line between the blue and yellow slightly more curved. As often with Aeroclassics the more you look the more you see issues, however in this case they are minor - such as the missing registration on the nosegear doors.
The livery in general looks good but obviously like the mould it isn't perfect.
SCORE - 7
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
A relatively low-tech ascetic airliner like the Tu-154 has few aerials and fuselage details that require printing detail. There is almost none on the roofline or belly. The mould actually caters for a lot of what would be printing in line detailing but it is still missing rather obvious things like maingear doors.
Compared to the Yu ModeLs version I reviewed this example has superior cockpit window printing and darker engine fans, which are definite improvements. The overall painting here is better too, probably helped by the simplicity of the livery.
Build quality is good, which you'd hope for given how simple the mould is but the right maingear isn't level with the ground. With such long and fragile landing gear I am very happy it is all in one piece considering it came from Canada to the UK.
SCORE - 8
This is a perfectly fine model, albeit one that could have been quite easily made in 2005. That isn't necessarily a problem until you start comparing it to other models from 2022. Aeroclassics appears as a company in stasis, that produces an excellent range of models but to the same level it always has done. From distance they generally look fine but get close up, or dare to compare to competition and they suffer in the harsh glare of the spotlight. That is why this model scores quite low, however if you want an Air Ukraine Tu-154, and I do, this level of production is something you have to be willing to accept because Aeroclassics are clearly unwilling and unable to change. As I said earlier for now it is good enough.
FINAL SCORE - 21
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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