The A319neo is far from a strong seller, however even so it is surprising that the type has gained so little interest in 400 scale, considering most brands have an A319 and have neo engines on their A320s. NG Models recently debuted their A319neo, but the only manufacturer to release any production models yet is Panda. I had their pair of A319neo releases on order, via taobao, for months, as the COVID lockdowns delayed their departure from China, but now they have both arrived it is time to take a closer look.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The Panda A319 has been the best available now for sometime, as although it appears to be a direct copy of the Aeroclassics edition Panda have updated it much more successfully than the nosegear change Aeroclassics made to their A320 family.
The new NG Models A320 family moulds will provide significant competition to the Panda A320 family and will almost certainly get much wider usage. Nevertheless, in some ways I think I actually prefer the Panda series.
For starters I do think the nose shape on the Aeroclassics and Panda A320s is slightly nicer than on the NG version. The shape of the rest of the fuselage is spot on.
The wings are also excellent and slot into the fuselage very well with no discernible gap and no wing angle issues. The wing/fuselage fairing is very nicely shaped, unlike the competing Phoenix version.
The landing gear upgrades have seen the old Aeroclassics style 'tyres on a rod' replaced with excellent new tyres complete with proper gearhubs. The result is a better sized tyre and a more attractive real-to-life look with the previous slight nose-down attitude removed.
Another area where Panda have improved the mould substantially is the engines - as they were, until the recent NG version, the only ones to produce both the neo engines. This aircraft is fitted with the CFM LEAP engines, which is the variant largely ignored by other brands. It is not the same as the PW1000 series.
The difference in the engines is that the CFM LEAP engine has a bulge at the lower left of the nacelle. This is present here and although it does look odd it is accurate. The engines are solid core, which I think is forgivable on a narrowbody mould especially as the fan detailing is excellent. In fact, once again this is an area that I think looks slightly better than the fans on the NG samples.
Unlike JC Wings, which often makes the antennae too large, Panda have got the size correct and in addition they have fitted on this mould all four of them, unlike JC Wings, which regularly misses out the rear under fuselage antenna.
Regardless of the origins of the base mould itself this improved version is very good, and certainly better than the fine Aeroclassics version it derives from. The big differences are aerials, tyres and engines. It easily outcompetes the other in production A319s and is probably slightly better than the new NG version.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
In my opinion China Southern has a timeless, classy and attractive livery - one of the best of any large mainline airline. This is even more impressive given it dates from the early 90s and has never been altered.
The core colours of the scheme are a medium blue and dark blue, with gold pinstripes and of course the red flower logo on the tail. The flower itself is a Kapok flower, which is the chosen flower of the airline's hometown city - Guangzhou.
This is of course a livery that has been represented many times in 400 scale by all manufacturers, with there having been over 200 China Southern releases in this scale alone. To that end it should be easy to get right and I can confirm Panda know what they are doing.
The placement of the scheme is accurate and the golden stripes between the blue stripes glisten beautifully. The darker blue stripe is very dark but it matches with the rest of my CZ fleet. I can't see anything to complain about on this model from a livery perspective.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
This model looks great from far away and under a magnifying glass as modern 400 scale models should. The printing is crisp and highly detailed. The print template for the Panda A319 includes a large number of fine line detailing. Just on the aircraft belly itself there are over 40 separate lines, marks, access doors and panels.
What I also appreciate about the Panda A320 series neo engines is that rather than just painting the fan region solid black the fans themselves standout beautifully against their darker background allowing you to see the details.
While build quality is broadly good the model does come with two problem areas - both thing I have seen as an issue on other Panda releases. The first is the fitting of the landing gear, in this case the right maingear. It does not fully touch the ground and splays out a little. You don't notice it in the hand too much but it is obvious under magnification or in photos.
The second is the fitting of the engines to the pylons. The right side engine hangs with a slight but distinct droop, not giving it the same good ground clearance as the left side engine enjoys.
SCORE - 8
This is a near faultless model, which if not for QC mistakes would be getting a perfect score. Unfortunately Panda just don't make that many models in 400 scale nowadays and most of what they do make is for third parties. If they could produce in the same volumes as Phoenix and NG, for example, then their range of great moulds and high quality printing would be a formidable combination. As it is they do produce excellent models, such as this one, but probably don't feature that much on Western collectors radar.
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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