April 2021 saw the return of the Caravelle mould in the Aeroclassics release cycle after a barren run since 2015 for fans of the French twinjet. This was most welcome since even though the Aeroclassics mould can only plausibly cover the Rolls-Royce powered variants there are a surprising number of important and exciting liveries still to be made. Of April's trio of Caravelles it was the Spanish flag carrier's that caught my eye and we will take a closer look at in this review.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The Aeroclassics Caravelle mould dates all the way from 2002 making, it one of the first non-decaled Aeroclassics moulds. Although this at first site might suggest the mould will not be up to modern standards Aeroclassics at the time were producing some of the finest moulds and since AC ignores some of the latest additions to 400 scale, such as aerials, this mould doesn't suffer by comparison to later Aeroclassics aircraft.
The Caravelle borrowed the nose of the de Havilland Comet and so has a very distinctive profile side on. I have heard some people complain of the Caravelle mould nose as being egg shaped but in all seriousness I struggle to see any major problems myself and I'd argue it is the cockpit window print that is the issue - more of that later.
The Caravelle itself has rather unusual proportions with large rounded wings that seem almost too big for the aircraft. The mould has one of the best and least intrusive seam lines of any cradle mount mould to the extent that I doubt slot in wings would be any improvement at all. I do think however that the wings themselves are a little too flat and should be higher at the wingtip.
The undercarriage doesn't roll but is tiny and nicely detailed. If I had to criticise it I would say that the nosegear could be ever so slightly taller as in many photos the Caravelle appears to sit slightly nose high.
The dorsal spine running along the fuselage roof and meeting the tail is good, as is the overall shape of the tailfin and stabilisers. The tailcone itself could be a little pointier but the angles all work.
Aeroclassics uses the one Caravelle to illustrate all versions, which means the engines are not correct all the time, even on the RR powered variants. The mould best fits the later VI-R and VI-N variants rather than the original Caravelle to Caravelle III, as they have the shorter hot section. This model is a VI-R so the engines are a good fit.
I like this mould and think it has stood up well to the test of time. This is just as well as the chance of getting a new Caravelle in 400 scale anytime within my lifetime is slim. Certainly, the addition of the two rather large and rectangular aerials would be nice but it isn't going to happen. Otherwise this is a solid mould whose return I welcome.
SCORE - 8
PAINT & LIVERY
The Iberia delivery scheme was one of the most conspicuous absences from the existing Caravelle lineup at 400 scale. The primary difference with the slightly latter version is the shape of the cheatline curve at the nose, the lightning bolt effect near the engines and the old globe logo on the tail. Both the later scheme variants have already been made with this being the last produced.
There aren't tons of photos of this livery about but there are two obvious sources - a photo of EC-ARI from Wikipedia (see above) and a postcard of EC-ARJ on JJPostcards. The red cheatline matches nicely to the colour of the JJPostcards photo. The cheatline curves nicely under the nose and ends correctly at a point towards the fuselage rear. It is a shame that the cheatline itself doesn't appear to be quite level and slightly angles downwards towards the nose.
There were some initial concerns that the belly was not finished in natural metal but these have proven unfounded. The belly looks great, although the natural metal should finish slightly further towards the tailcone.
The main titles are slightly too thin but are otherwise well sized and spaced. The old fashioned globe and titles on the tail look great and the quintessential Spanish flag striping at the tail top works well. Lastly the lightning bolt effect on the engines looks good as well.
SCORE - 9
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Old aircraft don't require the same level of printing detail as newer types and Aeroclassics don't print incredibly fine detail, such as nosecone rings, anyway. Nonetheless, there is some nice printing detail especially on the wingtops and underside where the airbrakes are printed really well.
Less impressive is the continuing failure to modify the base print template to take into account one of the major differences between these Caravelle VI-Rs and earlier variants - the cockpit windows. The cockpit windows on this model are very differently shaped and it should be a simple change to make. Sadly despite making quite a few VI-Rs Aeroclassics has never modified the template and the windows are too small and the wrong shape.
Above: Note the position of the L1 door on this Caravelle VI-R
That isn't the only issue with the basic printing template as the L1/R1 entry door is too far behind the nosegear. The number of windows (16) is correct but the spacing doesn't seem perfect and the entry door itself is a little too small. I'm also not sure if all Caravelles had the rear airstairs, but if this one did the model does not. Build quality of this model is excellent.
SCORE - 7
Once again I struggle to fault the older part of this model i.e. the mould but can fault the care and attention of the finished article thanks to a lack of care in the base print template being used. It is tempting to get new cockpit windows made to replace the incorrect ones used here and it really should be a simple change for Aeroclassics to make. Will they? I seriously doubt it, but overall this is the usual decent not spectacular effort you expect from AC. At least we are seeing more Caravelles made and hopefully there will be more than the 3 so far in 2021.
FINAL SCORE - 24/30
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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