Several of the US local service airlines have been poorly represented in 400 scale. Partly this has been down to a lack of the correct moulds, for types such as the Martin 4-0-4, Nord 262, DC-3 and DC-9-10, and partly it has been down to just a lack of seeming interest. Recently things have been improving, largly of course due to Aeroclassics using their 727 and Convair moulds, but also because of a trickle of Convair 580s from Gemini Jets. I've a great affinity for the 580, having flown on the type in the cockpit with Air Chathams, so I'm all over the regular but rare Gemini offerings - the latest of which I look at here.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The last CV-580 Gemini released was back in mid-2020 and the mould has now only been used 5 times, which is rather criminal. Even so, Gemini is gradually releasing the same CV-580s it has already made in 200 scale (where they've made 12 examples). That is great - it's just a shame that at this rate it may be another 14 years before they have all 12 released in 1:400!
This Convair is a decent little mould and nobody else in this scale has a CV-580 mould, as the excellent Convairliner from Aeroclassics only exists in its piston versions of CV-240, CV-340 and CV-440.
The origins of this mould come from the JC Wings piston engine version, which appeared in 2009. Mating the long nose CV-440 with a new wing and engines created a CV-580 in 2012 and the result is pretty good.
Starting with the plus points the wings and engines are lovely single piece fittings. Yes, the mould is a cradle mount, but you don’t really notice, and the single piece engines are an improvement over the Aeroclassics style ones, which are two-piece. The large flat four-bladed propellers of the Allison engines are especially nice.
The fuselage is well shaped. Gemini understandably hadn’t bothered with aerials on such a small model, at least until the Republic release in 2020, but for some reason this release is lacking the aerial that version has. Surely this model hasn't been sitting in the warehouse since before the Republic version?
I do think the tail top could be a little rounder and the nose shape rounder too but these are relatively minor criticisms.
The mould’s greatest weakness is the landing gear. The maingear isn’t too bad, although the wheels sit a little too far back from the geardoors. It is the nosegear which is the mould’s achilles heel. Compared to the delightfully thin and crafted Aeroclassics Convair nosegear the Gemini mould’s is too chunky and also too short. The model stands with a nosedown attitude, when the CV-580 should have a straight back.
This is a nice little mould. It may not be perfect, and could do with a better nosegear, but it is more than satisfactory.
SCORE – 7
PAINT & LIVERY
Frontier began receiving its Convair 580s in 1964 having them converted from its CV-340s and adding to them in 1968 with ex-SABENA CV-440s. This aircraft wears the jet-age golden crescent scheme, which replaced the green crescent in 1964 seemingly with the CV-580's introduction.
There's a delightful photo of this frame wearing this scheme on JetPhotos taken, fittingly, at Denver Stapleton as the aircraft powers down the runway. I have used this for reference. The scheme is nice but obviously not as exciting as the later Saul Bass livery. Overall the replication of this simple livery here is good.
The gold tail crescent shines on the tail and the very thin pinstripe running above the natural metal belly is also looking good, although at this scale it is so thin it is sometimes hard to see with the naked eye. The blue cheatline is substantially lighter than on the Aeroclassics versions of this livery, but the better for it, and I admit the photos here make it look lighter than it is.
The whole model is finished off with some delightful natural metal. The main titles use the correct font, including the heavy looking R, and the JET POWER 580 titles, although tiny are present (albeit the 580 is a little crooked - but not enough for me to dock a point at that size).
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Printing detail on a small prop-liner like this is never going to match that on a 787 but Gemini has nonetheless produced some lovely fine line detailing on this model where appropriate. The windows fit beautifully within the cheatline and the three emergency exits on each side look great.
Printing on the engines and wings is a highlight, including the prop blades themselves. The only place that is lacking in print that would benefit from it is the tailplane, which lacks any rudder or frame lines.
Build quality is excellent, rounding off a really nicely finished article.
SCORE - 9
It is somewhat ironic that making small airliners like a CV-580 should be easier in 400 scale, as there is less to do, but that any mistakes that are made tend to be amplified. Therefore, although it is easier to do a good job it is also easier to make a real mess of it. No worries here though as Gemini has done a near perfect job of this model within the limitations of the mould. The mould itself could do with a new nosegear leg but these are lovely little Convairs and I only hope we don't have to wait as long before we see more.
FINAL SCORE - 26/30
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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