Latin America has an impressive history of colourful and interesting airlines that are often under-represented, especially for the smaller Central American nations like Guatemala. Aeroclassics has done its best but it is pleasing to see El Aviador moving into the smaller scale from 200 to bolster the representation for great Latin classics, especially as they get to use not only the Aeroclassics mould catalogue but also that of Panda Models. The 737-300 is a type largely ignored in 400 scale and Panda haven't shown a lot of initiative with it as of yet so it is good that others are giving them some guidance.
THIS REVIEW IS SPONSORED BY EL AVIADOR
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The Panda 737-300 casting has been around since 2013, prior to the Panda brand itself. For the first 5 or 6 years it was used exclusively by Aeroclassics on loan from its owner who then took it back when the relationship between Aeroclassics and Panda went bad. That at least meant that it was used quite widely by Aeroclassics but since the breakup Panda have only used it occassionally and mostly for Chinese releases. This is a shame as there are large numbers of 737-300s left to be made and the mould is easily the best series 300 in 400 scale.
Panda has not been static with the mould and has updated it a couple of times. Firstly in 2017 they added aerials to it while last year it benefitted from the 737-800 mould update and gained all new undercarriage.
It is also possible that the cockpit region received a minor update as the angles of the cockpit down to the nose look a little less angular than before. The overall fuselage shape of the casting is perfect and has the blunt rounded tailcone with APU shaped excellently. Two aerials are fitted, one above and one below. Both are well sized and shaped.
The engines are well shaped, with the flattened bottom, and hung high enough to give the correct level of ground clearance by the pylons. The wings are also well shaped and fit snugly into the fuselage.
Lastly the new undercarriage is an improvement over the simple previous version. The new larger tyres come with proper hubs and are better sized then before.
I can't fault this mould - it is one of the best around in 400 scale. I just wish it was getting wider usage - especially on European and North American models.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
Aviateca replaced its Boeing 727-100s in 1989 with leased 737-300s and at the same time replaced the previous 'flying papaya' livery with a stylish more business-like scheme. This featured a dark blue belly and fin with white roof. A very thin red pinstripe delineates the belly from the roof. On the fin were 5 horizontal pinstripes in green, purple, red, orange and yellow.
A new logo was also introduced with a golden ellipse containing squares that form a pyramid - presumably representing the La Danta pyramid from El Mirador, the Mayan capital city.
There are actually two variants of this scheme with the difference being the placement of the GUATEMALA titles. The earlier 737s had it beneath the windowline, while TG-AMA had it behind the main titles as shown here.
The deep blue of the model's scheme provides an accurate base for the tail colours and I must commend Panda here for the crispness and clarity of the printing. The entire model really shines.
Placement of the livery elements is accurate and the font of the titles spot on. Smaller details are not missed - like the 3GU on the nosegear (TG-AMA would become N103GU less than a year after delivery).
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
The printing of the model is crisp and fine with lots of detailing, especially atop the roof and on the belly. The cockpit windows also look excellent and are a major improvement over the Southwest Shamu version that was made.
From a build quality perspective the model is obviously missing the right side nosegear tyre. It wasn't in the packaging so I'll have to try and pickup a replacement for that.
Another minor quality issue exists on the left side engine. From the front it can be seen that the nacelle opening is a little misshapen and rough at the top left. It is a minor issue that is barely noticeable.
SCORE - 8
I have enjoyed all the El Aviador releases to date but this, their first model using Panda, clearly shows the difference in skill between the Aeroclassics and the Panda factory. Ignoring the mould itself the addition of aerials, the excellent colour and very impressive print detailing are beyond what the Aeroclassics factory can produce. This is a topnotch model, no doubt about it.
FINAL SCORE - 28/30
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.
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