JC Wings have proven themselves, along with NG Models and Aviation400, to be a brand that are keen to improve their moulds and to pioneer new exciting features. Although their release schedule is usually leisurely the results have increasingly been excellent. I was surprised when NG Models produced a Beluga XL mould and more so when JC Wings also joined this exclusive group. They have of course gone one step further with their Beluga XL so I have been keen to get hold of one for a close-up review.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
I have written comparisons of the different Airbus A330 moulds in 400 scale several times and the JC Wings mould has not performed as well as it might against the competition. Nevertheless, as with the recent Aviation400 A330 Tankers, the base mould itself is not necessarily why you would be acquiring this model.
The JC Wings A330 in itself is not a bad mould, it is just weak in comparison to the better A330s available from Panda, NG, Aeroclassics and even Phoenix. Despite the Beluga XL being so very different from the A330 it is clear that it is based on it and also clear that JC Wings used their A330 mould as the starting point for it too.
The core fuselage shape of this new casting is impressive and matches the NG mould and the real thing very closely. The unusual underslung cockpit and nose is a fine representation and the shape and form of the huge bulbous cargo hold also accurate.
The position of the nosegear is, like on the standard JC A330, slightly too far back and is also slightly too short. The maingear is good and in general the engines and wings, taken again from the A330 mould, are ok - but the wings do display quite a steep angle upwards.
The underside of the wings and fuselage has some extra moulded in detailing for intakes and flap hinges that the NG mould does not. At the rear of the fuselage the general shape is good with two criticisms. One is very minor, in that the tailcone protrudes slightly too far beyond the unusual wedge shape above it. The other is less easy to ignore as the extra vertical stabilisers on the end of the horizontal stabilisers are too large and their underside shape is not correct.
If I’m just looking at the standard mould itself then this version is marginally inferior to the NG one in terms of undercarriage, wing form and stabiliser shape, however of course this mould has a secret weapon – the cargo door can be opened.
In fact, the closed cargo door is a separate die-cast piece, which can be removed and replaced by a plastic open-door variation. The open door is a work of art and the plastic allows for some very detailed hinges for the doors. This setup also allows inspection of the flat area above the cockpit and inside the cargo hold. I can’t deny that I am impressed by this extra feature and like it a lot more than I thought I would.
Although the overall mould is slightly weaker the addition of the two cargo door versions elevates this mould considerably and makes it a very strong competitor to the NG version, which doesn’t have this feature. Usually I’d give this mould a 7 or 8 but the dual door layout elevates it up to a 9.
SCORE – 9
PAINT & LIVERY
This version of F-WBXL isn’t really wearing a livery at all. It wore this primer during the construction phase. Judging by images from Airliners.net and JetPhotos.com the prototype appears to have been completed in this primer around April 19, 2018 and was repainted into the standard colours prior to its first taxi tests in early July. This profile photo from JetPhotos.net is good for reference.
The main cargo bay is in a darker green than the forward fuselage section and cargo door. The wing root fairing is a light blue and the top and bottom inspars of the wings are a yellowish green. Broadly I haven’t got any issues with the colours being used here.
On the nose section the model carries the STELIA logo (this is the company that made the nose and cargo door). It also has BELUGA XL titles and very small ‘1st Fully Equipped Nose Fuselage’ text, which amazingly can be read using a magnifying glass. You can see this on the real thing in this photo at AirTeamImages.
There is lots of detailing on the vertical stabiliser and the basis of the Airbus tail logo looks great. One aspect that I do think is incorrect is the strong lines on the left side of the main cargo door itself. On the model they are red but in real life they were black.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
JC Wings usually works hard to add detailed printing to their models and this model has plenty, however they haven’t necessarily gone the whole hog. With the primer on the aircraft and no paint it is easy to see the structure of the fuselage panelling and ribs, but surprisingly JC has left this detailing off the model. That does mean the main fuselage is rather barren but presumably it is a conscious choice?
The detailed printing that is present is very nice. There is lots of it on the nose, underside, engines, vertical stabiliser and the fin strakes on the rear fuselage. One place where they have missed some detail is in the inside of the extra fins on the horizontal stabilisers - see this photo for how they look. Elsewhere they have represented these strong lines so I can only think their absence here is an oversight.
The build quality of the entire model is superb. The main cargo door can be easily removed and the open version easily attached. Both remain well in place when fitted.
SCORE – 8
I had resisted acquiring any Beluga XLs as they don’t really fit into my collecting criteria (I do have some I promise). I am very glad to have added this model to the fleet though as it has huge interest value with the cargo door open. With it closed the model is inferior to the NG Beluga XL but surely most people will display it with the door open and it looks superb in that configuration. The addition of new interactive features such as this does play havoc with my scoring setup. If the cargo door didn’t open the model would be getting a 24 but I just have to up the score with the added feature.
FINAL SCORE – 26/30
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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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