Prop releases in 400 scale are nowadays incredibly rare and piston engined releases even rarer. It isn't that the moulds don't exist but more that the will, and perhaps sales, just aren't there - or at least that manufacturers, like JC Wings and Gemini, prefer to focus on hot selling modern releases. Of course the exception to this is Aeroclassics, who are the only brand to release almost anything with props that doesn't date from the past 5 years. Even they nowadays produce only a small number of props, so a classics guy like me needs to cherish these gems. January's pair of FH-227s were a real treat and here I take a closer look at one of them.
Each review is to split into three key areas:
The FH-227 is a relatively obscure type and only 78 were produced by Fairchild-Hiller between February 1966 and December 1968, so we are lucky to have a 400 scale mould for it at all. This mould is, in fact, the second mould for the type as Aeroclassics produced a mould way back in their decaled UK production Generation One days. For further details check out the mould review for the type:
This mould appeared as late as 2012 and has seen sporadic, but regular, use to produce a decent number of liveries that were representative for the type. The FH-227 was essentially Fairchild-Hiller's attempt to stretch their license built Fokker F27 variant (the Fairchild F-27). They added a 1.83 metre stretch to make an aircraft slightly longer than Fokker's independently stretched F27-500 version.
The shape of the fuselage on this mould is very nice. The long diagnostic F27 nose looks great and the rest of the body works well also. The tailcone shape could perhaps be slightly squarer at the tip and the very small bump under the rear fuselage (tail bumper?) is also missing.
The large nosegear doors, and dainty gearleg and tyre have been modelled very nicely. Obviously, given the size of the nose tyres they are fixed and do not roll. The long maingear has some nice detail and the tyres here do roll.
The maingear doors are a little ill-defined and attach to the engines a little clumsily. In fact, the underside of the engines is probably the mould's weakest point as there is no clearly defined engine exhaust pipe visible. Otherwise the shape of the Dart turboprops is nice all around.
The engines attach directly to the wings in once piece, which itself attaches to the fuselage roof as a reverse cradle. Consequently this means there is a seam but by following the natural join lines on the real aircraft the seam fits the real aircraft well and is a case of when a seamed mould is appropriate.
Missing are the two aerials on the forward fuselage roof but I think that these would be a challenge to replicate well in 400 scale on such a small mould anyway.
There is a second seam at the fuselage rear allowing the fitting of the horizontal stabs but it cleverly follows the rudder line. I have no issue with the shape of the stabs or tail. Overall this is a great little prop mould and one vitally important in displaying the history of US Local Service Airlines such as Piedmont and Ozark.
SCORE - 9
PAINT & LIVERY
Piedmont's scheme from the 1960s has quite a dated feel to it, even for the time, and it is somewhat surprising that it was used on the first jet 727s and 737s. Despite this, the FH-227 wears it well. There is a photo from Wikipedia of this aircraft wearing this scheme and presumably it was used for reference during the design phase:
The primary colour is a rich deep blue and arguably this is a rare occasion when the colour might be considered slightly too light - then again old photos aren't kind to blues. Like lots of old style US schemes the cheatline and tail elements have something of a feather motif going for them. Aeroclassics has captured the shape of the main cheatline well especially as it curves down around the nose and up around the cockpit windows in three points.
There are a couple of minor mistakes at the nose. Firstly the lower part of the striping should also have a white outline and that is missing. In fact the striping within the cheatline edging should be white but looks more like a light blue in close up. Secondly, the nosegear doors should also be blue and have text on them (presumably 709).
The pair of blue stripes on the tail are shaped well and the classic Piedmont bird logo sits among the cheatline looking great. Minor criticism on the badge front is that the bird logo should pierce the edge of the roundel whereas on the model the roundels black line is unbroken. There should also be a little more white between the titles and bird in the roundel.
The red title font is largely good aside from the tops of the M and N. Aeroclassics have captured the light grey paint beneath the cheatline, which gives way to a natural metal belly finish. The last detail is the aircraft name 'Kitty Hawk Pacemaker'. It is visible just below the cockpit and although the text is tiny under macro photography it can just be read.
SCORE - 7
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
The printing on the model is nice, although it would have been nice to see the engine exhausts printed on. Otherwise I doubt the real aircraft ever looked quite this spotlessly clean! My only other printing criticism is the shape of the cockpit windows. The underside of them curves upwards making their shape and orientation incorrect at the front.
Build quality is exemplary.
SCORE - 9
In a world flooded with Boeings and Airbuses the odd propliner is more than welcome, especially when they are for a major airline in US aviation history and carried off so well. This is a fabulous little model using an excellent mould. There aren't too many other FH-227s left to make now but I would welcome releases for Piedmont's later colours, Britt Air, Wien Air Alaska and TAT. Hopefully they will appear over the next four or five years.
FINAL SCORE - 25/30
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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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