Starting with AV400 and they have 5 new models for June. I had just been complaining that their releases were a little too standard for my tastes and on a first glance these 5 aren’t a lot different since they represent 3 A330s, a 77W and an A350-1000. However, they have taken an interesting direction with their 330s at least.
All 3 represent military A330 variants, something that has largely been ignored until now. One is an RAF Voyager KC.3 tanker transport – registered ZZ333. The RAF A330 KC.3s are not fitted with the fuselage Aerial Refuelling Boom System and instead use two Cobham 905E under-wing refueling pods and an 805E fuselage refueling unit (the KC.2 variant just has the underwing pods).
The images that have been shared of the artwork in profile suggest that AV400 intend to include the lattice style rooftop aerial and the refueling pods.
Perhaps even more exciting is that the other two A330 tankers (in the colours of the Royal Australian Air Force (as A39-003) and Republic of Singapore Air Force (as 763)) are both fitted with the Aerial Refuelling Boom System and the artwork clearly shows it. It therefore looks like AV400 intend to actually produce variants of the A330 tanker with both arrangements of refueling system and if so surely it isn’t too much to hope that the boom can be extended?
I’m not a military collector but it is nice to see a manufacturer trying something new and with 12 customers for the A330 MRTT there is plenty of room for more models. It is also interesting that both NG Models and Panda have recently made Jet2 A330s since that aircraft is really an A330MRTT and is operated by AirTanker like the RAF versions are.
The other AV400 release announcements are a lot more standard but I expect the announcement of a British Airways A350-1000 will at least be very popular given how good the AV400 mould is.
Progress on the AV400 777-300ER mould appears to be nearing completion judging by this image:
Panda Models June releases also feature A330s but take a different path to AV400, but nonetheless one less well travelled. They get out their A330 Freighter mould and produce two new models - Sichuan Airlines and Tampa Colombia. Both look like they'll be great.
Personally I prefer the Panda A330-200F mould to the JC Wings version - mainly because of the undercarriage (which is too short and in not quite the correct spot for the JC Wings version). I've reviewed the Panda A330-200F over at Diecast Flier. Check it out here:
Jet2 has become popular all of a sudden with NG Models, Phoenix and Panda all getting in on the airline's new popularity. Panda have made the A330 but are also able to find something more interesting by using their excellent 737-300 mould to make a pair (both passenger and freighter). I really hope they continue to release G-reg 737-300s as there are lots of older ones I'd like to buy such as Monarch, Dan Air, Orion, Inter European, Britannia, British Midland, Go, Easyjet etc etc
When you've got A330-200/300 and A340-300 moulds already making an A340-200 is relatively simple. The first two choices on this mould are certainly eclectic. The Lufthansa A340-200 is an aircraft that even hardened spotters barely knew existed. It was apparently a SABENA aircraft that was leased to Air France for 3 years and then sub-leased to Lufthansa for just 3 months in 1996.
I certainly can't complain that both AV400 and Panda haven't found interesting niches for releases using their mould catalogue. These are some truly interesting model choices and I am really tempted by several of them even though none fit within my collecting criteria.
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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