There is plenty of new mould creation going on in 400 scale, spurred mainly by NG Models and Aviation400, but practically none of it has been going towards anything with a prop on it. In fact, I wasn't sure we'd ever see another new prop, although there had been rumours of an Antonov twin for a little while. JC Wings haven't had the best year but the surprise announcement of this An-26 recently was a real highlight of 2023. I'm surprised that they didn't start with the more popular and obvious An-24 (which obviously as the Xian Y-7 was widely used in China too) but the An-26 is refreshing to see in a world of Airbuses and Boeings!
Each review is to split into three key areas:
THIS MODEL WAS SENT TO ME FREE BY JC WINGS FOR REVIEW
The Antonov 26 (NATO reporting name: Curl) is a militarised version of the civilian An-24 with the following primary external changes:
It also, as with some An-24 variants, has a turbojet engine added into the starboard nacelle for use as an APU and for auxiliary thrust on take-off. At an initial glance this mould looks impressive.
I was actually surprised how small the An-26 is in 400 scale. I guess I shouldn't be. It is comparable in size to a Convair 340 or Fokker F27 so among the smallest moulds in the scale. For a more modern collector the fuselage is similar in size to a CRJ200 but the wingspan is wider. It is impressive that they've been able to fit a standhole in on the belly.
The An-24/26 family has a symmetrical nosecone shape, which is quite blunt and the mould captures this really nicely. The cockpit looks great too and the teardrop form moulded in observation window on the starboard side of the forward fuselage is good too.
The mould features a reverse cradle wing fit, which makes a lot of sense with the fuselage top wings and the rooftop fairing they connect into. The main portions of the engine nacelles is part of the wing form with the forward chunk of the engines added on. It all looks excellent on the mould and has an impressive level of detail present.
The wings are shaped well and have a lot of control surface detailing of flaps and such. The wings also droop slightly towards their outer edge, which matches the real thing.
The engines are well-shaped and the difference in form caused by the addition of the turbojet in the starboard nacelle shown beautifully. The forward portion of the engines is equally good and the props spin really nicely.
The rear of the fuselage sculpts in the vehicle ramp really well with very fine side fins on the lower fuselage side. The horizontal stabilisers angle upwards nicely and the vertical stabiliser shape is good also. It is perhaps worth mentioning that the horizontal stabilisers are one piece and slotted in under the rudder.
The undercarriage on the model is fine and well detailed, helped by the fact that the An-26 has quite large maingear tyres. The only thing that I could call out as missing on this mould are the collection of aerials but given the very small size of the mould in 400 scale I think that is entirely reasonable.
This is a superb rendition of an unexpected type I never thought would get a 400 scale release. It is fabulous to see JC Wings put the effort into such a relatively obscure type and I can only hope that they will also take a look at the passenger An-24 and Xian Y-7 too.
SCORE - 10
PAINT & LIVERY
There have been over 1,400 An-26s built and the type has seen widespread service outside Russia, but almost entirely with military operators. Most of the larger ones no longer use the type so the choice of a Ukrainian Air Force example as the first release makes sense given the nation's current struggle against Russian aggression.
It is a little hard to determine this aircraft's current status but there are photos of it on the usual sites from 2017-2019 such as this one at Lviv and this one from an unknown location.
The aircraft presents in a very limited scheme with a medium grey base that the model has replicated well. The only other aspects of note are the Ukrainian crest on the tail, number 48 in blue on the rear fuselage, roundels on the upper and lower wing surfaces and yellow prop tips.
The underside of the aircraft uses a light grey belly and once again so does the model.
SCORE - 10
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
Detailing on very small models can be tricky as mistakes tend to get amplified and can often ruin the entire model (just look at that Aer Lingus ATR-72 Gemini made). There's no need to worry here though as the printing is excellent and nicely complements the mould detailing.
The complicated cockpit window configuration and black anti-glare shield are great exemplars of the care taken with this release.
The only criticism I can level at this model is the finish off the landing gear units. At normal magnification it isn't very evident but in photos it can be seen that the port side maingear is a little bent and the nosegear tyres are not quite equal. Both mean that the tyres don't sit quite flat on the ground. These are points of minor concern considering the small size of the model.
SCORE - 9
Obviously the small size and lack of livery make some aspects of this model easy to get right, however the amount of effort involved in getting this incredibly small and complicated mould correct are a real testament to JC Wings design capability. The An-26 is unlikely to ever be a major type for my collection, or presumably the majority of people's collections, but that just goes to show the dedication by JC as surely they know it isn't likely to be a top seller. I am very happy that there are still brands willing to take a chance with such obscure types. It gives me hope we will see more interesting types in 400 scale.
FINAL SCORE - 29/30
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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