Working on my best moulds in 400 scale series it became clear that I have rather ignored the Airbus A340 series and so it is a happy coincidence that Aeroclassics released a new A340 in their very next set of announcements. The A340 is a type that just crosses over the year 2000 tentative collection cut-off point I usually set myself for non-Chinese airliners. This aircraft was actually delivered in September 2000 so is one of those, all too frequent, times when I fall off the wagon, but it is wearing a lovely scheme and has an almost classics feel to it.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
This Lan Chile is the second A340 from them of 2023, after having not used the mould since 2017. As always with Aeroclassics when they use a mould they really use it, so they have nowadays made 62 of the 262 A340-300s in the scale, making the AC A340 an important mould in 400 scale for the type.
The Aeroclassics A330/340 moulds obviously share a lot of the same features and both date from 2011 when the advent of the BigBus Aeroclassics sub-brand was something of a revelation. For a long time these moulds duked it out with the 2010 Phoenix versions for supremacy. While nowadays there are plenty of other competing A330/340s on the market the BigBus range remains very good.
The basic mould here is hard to fault. The nosecone, cockpit and fuselage are spot on (or historically have been - see the quality section). The vertical stabiliser is also well sized and shaped plus fits tightly to the roofline.
Likewise, the wings are a thing of beauty. They have excellent dihedral, sharp spiky flap track fairings, carefully shaped and angled winglets and a particularly impressive join region. This latter area of the wing join to the fuselage is undoubtedly tighter and better than on the competing Phoenix mould.
The BigBus moulds were also some of the first, if not the first, Aeroclassics moulds to have detailed tyrehubs and these are just part of some finely detailed undercarriage. Obviously being an A340 there is the extra middle maingear leg and this has some lovely finishing on it. I especially like the rear skid-like element of the gear here, which again is better than on the Phoenix version.
Of course what this mould does lack are aerials and domes, which are quite common on the A340. This aircraft had 3 aerials on the roofline and a large dome forward, with two smaller above the wing, plus several smaller aerials on the belly. Their absence is almost a signature of Aeroclassics but the Aviation400 mould especially shows they can be added and look great.
The signature Aeroclassics lack of aerials and domes is really this moulds only real weakness.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
Lan Chile has always had attractive schemes but arguably this livery, introduced in 1998, represented the pinnacle of them all. It's successor (the 2004 LAN scheme) was nice but introduced too much eurowhite and the current LATAM scheme (introduced in 2016) is worse than both for me. This scheme radiated stylishness and elegance.
The Aeroclassics rendition of the scheme has good points and bad points. Starting with the good and the deep blue and bright red both look good to me. The blue is verging slightly on the purple and could be slightly lighter but it isn't a biggie.
The positioning of the main livery is fine as well with the line of the blue roof correctly placed and the red strip nice too. The position of the LAN and star on the tail also look good.
I am less convinced by the font of the LAN CHILE titles on the fuselage. It isn't a disaster but the Ls and E especially don't look correct. The CHILE of the titles also shows the most obvious livery error. On the model the full titles are an off-white, probably caused by overprinting on the blue roof. The LAN should be brilliant white and the CHILE should be a dark silvery grey.
The top of the vertical stabiliser also should be a grey colour not white. Only the lowest point of the star is actually white on the real aircraft. Interestingly the Inflight200 version of the same aircraft/livery combo makes the same errors. One last omission is the registration suffix on the gear doors.
SCORE - 7
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Most of the printwork on this model is good, however it suffers from overprinting issues not just at the titles. Especially obvious forward and aft there appears to be a line running under the windowline - almost like an off-white extra cheatline. It shouldn't be there and is presumably once again caused by a lack of skill at the factory. The recent LAN 737s also had this but it was less noticeable on the smaller 737s.
There are also some quality issues. Comparing with other Aeroclassics A340s I own and the nose is a little more pointy, plus there is some overall roughness between the cockpit and nosecone on the portside.
This is probably due to overpolishing of the mould once again and has been a recurring issue at Aeroclassics recently. There is also a small paint chip on the inside of the starboard winglet.
This example of the model also came with one horizontal stabiliser off and the other loose. Fortunately, neither has caused any damage to the model's printwork.
One last point, obscured slightly by the dark roof, but obvious when you run your finger over it is just aft of the wing the roofline isn't straight for some reason. There are a couple of indentations. I've never seen anything like that before.
SCORE - 5
Aeroclassics has the basic tools to create spectacular models, and they have done regularly in the past, yet all too often nowadays somehow the pieces don't add up. They remain my favourite brand, for the excellent diversity of releases, but increasingly I have come to expect issues that I have to accept if I am going to buy them. With such a good base mould this A340 should be a high flyer but a combination of poor finishing, bad printing and some weak livery research means it doesn't score as I hoped it would.
FINAL SCORE - 21/30
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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