The future of the new Italian flag carrier appears more secure with the recent purchase of a 41% stake by the Lufthansa Group. It's bright blue aircraft have certainly been making a splash in the aviation and 400 scale world since it launched operations in October 2021. There have been 10 releases in 400 scale, by 5 different brands, and although not all have worn the standard scheme there has still been quite a bit of variability in the blues used on what has been made. This release is AV400's 2nd ITA A350 and they have an A330-900 on the way too.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
I was an early adopter of the Aviation400 A350 when it was first released in 2018 and have six from that first year. Fast forward 6 years and of the 25 A350s I own 19 are still Aviation400 examples. Why is that? Well back in 2020 when I wrote my detailed scoring comparison for the A350 it was an easy winner:
That was before the NG Models A350 debuted and that mould provides the only real competition in the scale for the Aviation400 example. They both have lots of excellent points and it is basically a photo finish between them. Both moulds are excellent.
Not that the Aviation400 mould has been static. It has been developed over the years with updates made to the undercarriage. Plus they have a variety of different configurations to take into account dome and aerial numbers, and placement.
In terms of overall look the fuselage of this mould is excellent. It has a nice nose shape and crisp sharp attachment for the wings. This A350 was a 2018 build, originally for Hong Kong Airlines, and has no rooftop bumps over the mid-fuselage so AV400 have left those off. They have attached the large Wi-Fi dome at the rear and four nicely shaped aerials. The teardrop shape of the Wi-Fi dome could be better.
Compared to earlier versions of the mould the landing gear tyre size has been reduced and the tyre hubs altered to be more metallic. They both look good and make very attractive gear units, of which the maingear hubs pivot nicely.
The wingform is great but the engines and pylons do have some minor issues. The engine pylon attachment at the rear of the engine is too far off the hot section and inferior to both the JC and NG versions. The engine fans are incredibly thin - far more so than other competing moulds.
There are no problems at the rear and of course the model comes with AV400's trademark jewel beacon lights on the forward roofline and underside mid-belly.
Overall this mould is one of my favourites. It compares favourably to the NG version, which admittedly has better engine fans and pylons, but in most other respects the two are neck and neck for me.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
ITA Airways' livery makes a real statement with its overall metallic Savoy Blue base. Some people don't necessarily associate that with Italy, but of course it very should be and in more ways than the Italian National Football team. As ITA said when it was unveiled:
"The new livery of ITA Airways is characterized by the blue color, chosen as a symbol of unity, cohesion and pride of the country and representative of the sport and the Italian national team. On the rudder the tricolor, on the blue background the white and red gold logo of ITA Airways and stylized icons inspired by the national artistic heritage."
There's certainly a lot going on and the metallic colour is a tough one to get right. Gemini Jets certainly didn't get it right with their A319 release (although they look like they've done better with their A330-200) and I can't say I'm convinced by the recent Phoenix A350 release of this very aircraft.
Aviation400 have done an excellent job with the blue, which not only looks the right shade but also has the metallic sheen without being too sparkly, even at magnification. The tricolor stripes also look fine to me. If I have to criticise it would only be the 'stylized icons inspired by the national artistic heritage', which on the model stand out perhaps a little too much. In most photos they are quite hard to see. Personally I prefer the look on the model!
This aircraft also is wearing a special MONZA 100 sticker and Enzo Ferrari titles on the portside nose only. It is a tricky sticker to get right and I'm not sure that the green here is the right shade. It's too dark I think. The ENZO FERRARI titles are also not great but they are tiny on the model, way too small to be seen with the naked eye.
AV400 have done a very nice job here with this scheme, which glistens beautifully. It's hard to criticise such small elements as the special sticker but even though it is miniscule it could be slightly clearer.
SCORE - 8
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
You can already tell that the printing on this model is very good. AV400 are right up there when it comes to print detailing, even when onto the challenging blue base here. It is also worth mentioning that although newer A350s have been delivered without the triple SSA (Side Slip Angle Probes), just under the cockpit, this aircraft has them so they are correctly printed on the model.
Another aspect of this model that should be applauded is the crisp printing of greys and bright white onto the dark base. It is not easy to keep that crispness, as at least one other brand regularly shows, but AV400 make it look easy.
There are no problems from a build quality perspective. As with all AV400 models it also comes with a useful and sturdy plastic stand.
SCORE - 10
There are so many boring liveries around nowadays but ITA's is not one of them. Pair a beautiful scheme with an excellent mould and add in a touch of quality finish and you get this model. Aviation400 have shown that they are a brand willing to push the envelope of what is possible in 400 scale. If you'd not sampled their models yet I can strongly recommend them. Certainly this versions look superior to the competing Phoenix edition. This one's a beauty.
FINAL SCORE - 27
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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