You have to be brave or foolish to start an airline, let alone to start one in the midst of a pandemic, but that didn't stop Brasilian startup ITA Transportes Aéreos, known as Itapemirim, from beginning flights in June 2021. Sadly for every successful startup there are ten failures and Itapemirim ceased flying on December 17th. Nonetheless, it is great to see that hasn't stopped a 400 scale model getting released in its colourful scheme and it has been made by Miniature Models, a brand I have reported on a few times that has used Panda moulds to good effect for some lovely models.
South American releases tend to sell out fast and this Itapemirim release has been no different. It is now sold out at the US reseller of Miniature Models aircraft - Midwest Models but check out their site to see what else MM has been making recently.
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Each review is to split into three key areas:
As is well known Panda Models 'acquired' their Airbus A320 in a rather controversial manner, since it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Aeroclassics mould and Panda was accused by Aeroclassics of cloning several of its moulds. It is almost 100% certain that it is a copy of the Aeroclassics mould. Ethics aside the mould is very good and has been improved by Panda with aerials and new nosegear tyres, complete with wheelhubs. It is still the best A320 available in 1:400 scale due to these additions and because the competing moulds (by JC Wings/Gemini and Phoenix) are so ordinary.
As it is effectively the same as the excellent Aeroclassics mould the shape is essentially perfect and blows the other competition out of the water. I do buy both the Phoenix and JC Wings A320s but both have a selection of issues and there's no doubt that if I have the choice the Panda or Aeroclassics A320 is my first stop. It should be yours too.
The wings are 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.
Panda has upgraded the base A320 it started with, adding well-sized and shaped aerials, four of them, and updating the landing gear. The gear updates have replaced the old Aeroclassics style nosegear tyres with better sized wheels complete with gearhubs. Aeroclassics has also updated their nosegear on the A320s but it is not as well done as Panda have managed.
The aircraft is fitted with the IAE V2500 engine and the engines are well shaped and hung from some nice pylons too.
There is essentially nothing to complain about with this mould. It is very good and trounces the competition, although obviously it is only marginally superior to the Aeroclassics version it was copied from.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
From the livery perspective alone it is shame that Itapemirim has gone out of business since this is a fabulously colourful scheme, which puts most new liveries (hello Brussels Airlines) to shame. The core colours are yellow and what is either a very dark grey or black (I've seen both mentioned as the colour and in different photos it can look darker or lighter). The core colours were worn already by the bus line of the parent company.
PS-SPJ was the airline's first aircraft so it is sensible for it to be the aircraft portrayed here. I haven't got any issue with the yellow colour being used. The other shade on the model is black and given my inability to tell from photos what the real colour was I'm ok with that!
The livery application is mostly carried off well. The position of all the elements is fine including the unusual multi-line logo on the aircraft's rear. Also a success is the font of the titles and placement of the smaller subsidiary titling and Brasilian flag. Itapemirim used an A320NEO-esque eyemask to make this 2005 build frame look newer and again the model wears it well.
The last aspect of the livey is the white outline arund the doors and emergency exits. On the actual aircraft there is quite an obvious white outline around them, which is present on the model although really hard to see with the naked eye as it is so thin.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Printing is a Panda strongpoint and there is the usual high level of detail present across the model, especially on the underside. The only minor detractor is that the PJ on the, admittedly tiny, nosegear doors isn't well centred, at least on the left-hand side.
The model's build quality is good but not 100% perfect. Firstly, the port-side engine is not entirely properly mounted and points slightly upwards towards the fans. It appears more obvious than it is in close-up photos.
Secondly, the fit of the starboard maingear isn't quite flush. I'm not sure if it is the gear leg or a poor tyre fit or a bit of both. Once again it isn't major and is barely noticeable when not under macro photography.
SCORE - 7
This is a great release and exactly the sort of thing that larger brands ought to be making if they weren't so focused on the USA (Gemini) or Asia (Phoenix and JC Wings). The overall quality of the mould, livery and printing is easily as good as, and often better than, that produced by larger brands. 400 scale needs more diversity and it is good to see such a diverse release set from Miniature Models. So far I've been liking what they've made, even if it doesn't fit into my collection criteria. This model was clearly sought after, which is why it has already sold out, so other manufacturers should take note and spread their field of vision wider.
FINAL SCORE - 27/30
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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