The Boeing 737-400 has to be about as close to an average airplane as any can get. A simple stretch of the series 300 it entered service late enough to avoid the glory that the 300 acquired in reimagining the 737 line and lacked the range to make it a true contender in the US market. Even so nearly 500 of the type were produced and it has seen service with a wide range of airlines.
The story was somewhat different in Europe, where its higher capacity was more useful than long range and where it sold well. Even so it never seemed to me as exciting as the MD-80 or A320 that it competed against.
In 1:400 scale there have been several moulds (from Herpa, Dragon Wings, Gemini Jets and Phoenix) but none have been world-beating. The Gemini Jets casting (once used by Phoenix and latterly by JC Wings) is the best in my opinion. There have been just under 70 releases all told but the majority of them typically don’t represent the type in its prime, when it was operated by national carriers, and focus on its later years (or later colours from original operators). The fact I own only 4 737-400 models is telling of this point.
There is plenty of scope for new models of the type, with almost anything made already ripe for a re-release (and lots of what has been made not worth re-releasing). Therefore, it is great to see Panda Models announce they will be making a new 737-400. It is annoying that both of their first two releases are the sort of rather pointless niche models I’m not interested in, but hopefully they’ll get on track and maybe this wishlist can help illustrate what they ought to be doing with the new mould :)
Certainly the following 65 schemes cover the 737-400 during its glory years.
The series 400 got strong usage in the British Isles not just with charter airlines but also with the flag carriers of both the UK and Republic of Ireland:
Two Gemini releases have covered the Chatham dockyard and one of the world tails. A landor release is screaming out to be made as the G-DOC* series of 737-400s were the workhorse of the short haul fleet during the 1990s:
Aer Lingus operated all versions of the 737 from 200-500 before switching to Airbus.
British Midland also was a long time operator of the series 400 and of course one of their aircraft crashed near the M1 motorway on approach to East Midlands in 1989:
In the realms of Charter airlines there are plenty of opportunities:
The Low Countries
All 3 flag carriers of the Benelux nations used series 400s and all could be seen regularly at Heathrow.
Belgium also had a decent representation in the charter market:
Rest of Europe
The 737-400 was a member of the fleets of many other major European airlines. Many of these operated 737-300s or 500s but some, like Olympic, only operated the series 400.
The 737-400 has received a lot of usage in South Africa with Comair and Kulula (and some existing 1:400 models) but it is the North African operator Royal Air Maroc, I'd like to see more.
737s weren't as common in Asia prior to the advent of low-cost carriers and 737NGs but the series 400 did quite well as once again passenger load was more important than range. This is also an area that has received some decent attention from the Chinese based 1:400 operators. Thai Airways has for example been well covered already.
Both the major Australian carriers operated 737-300s but only Australian / Qantas took the larger 400. They were joined by Virgin Blue also in the early 2000s. Air Nauru also operated a single 737-400 from its island home.
The 737-400 didn't sell well in the US market except for fleets with Alaska and Piedmont. The latter was the launch customer and is probably the most deserving 1:400 737-400 yet to be made.
The series 400 was operated by the old big three in Brazil albeit in small numbers complementing their series 300s.
There's clearly a wide range of liveries to be made. Many have also been worn by the 737-300 or 737-500 too but neither of those types has been well represented in 1:400 scale so far either. If I had to pick my top 10 then it would be:
What are your most wanted 737-400s?
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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