It isn't often I get to do a wishlist for an aircraft that had only ten units built - perhaps there's hope for a Dassault Mercure yet! Anyway the short version of the Tu-204 the Tu-204-300 (or Tu-234) has only worn a few liveries and here's a comprehensive look at all of them - I think.
The Tupolev Tu-204 was robbed of a Tu-154 style production run by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which is a real shame as it appears to be a decent aircraft broadly in line with Western contemporaries at the dawn of the 90s. In the end although the aircraft has had a 30-year production run only around 90 aircraft were made. Even so, the type has appeared in a surprising number of liveries which we'll hopefully be seeing on NG Models releases soon.
With NG Models and Panda now making new 737-700 moulds it opens up a substantial space for replacement and new releases for the type. Traditionally I'm a classics collector but there are a few geographic regions where my tastes stray closer to the modern so there are more than a few 73Gs that I would acquire - usually for operators from the late 90s and early 2000s. Seeing as I broke the news of a 73G coming I don't think it is unreasonable for a personal wishlist to get a look from NG!
A Tu-134 had been one of the holy grail missing moulds in 400 scale and now thanks to Panda Models it has arrived. Panda don't seem to know what to do with it though and in about a year have only produced 3 models using it, even though they have both major variants of the mould available. I know some of the partners of Panda are interested in making some 134s and I hope Panda are going to ramp up production too. Here's what they should be making.
Soviet era types have not been well represented in 400 scale recent years despite appearance of a Tu-104 and now a Tu-134. The re-emergence of the Tu-154 is very welcome, even if it is not a 100% modern mould. The 154 got far and way the most diverse usage of all Russian types and that means there are still plenty of core operators to be made.
The local service airlines had their routes in a postwar need for service to smaller communities and feeder routes into the the trunk services of the majors. Initially called simply 'Feeder Airlines' in July 1944 by the CAB they became known as 'Local Service' airlines when the survivors were certificated permanently in 1955. These airlines grew into majors over time and have had a decent representation in 400 scale, however there are significant gaps still to be filled.
There is a dearth of coverage in 1:400 scale of the 1940s and 1950s, partly because the models are small in 1:400, older collectors have gravitated to 1:200 and also because the modern collector only seems to care about A350s and 787s. That's a real shame but doesn't mean there is no hope for more DC-4s. Of course, the one hope remaining is Aeroclassics.
Prop releases in 1:400 are rare nowadays but there are still some large holes in the fleet despite Aeroclassics' best efforts. The original Super Connie for example has barely been touched and like the early jet 707s is a major missing space in a seminal period of aviation history.
The Panda Models 737-300 mould (once used by Aeroclassics also) is massively under-used. Panda has shown some interest in it, most recently with some easyjet and Jet2 examples but frankly they could be a lot more active. There are many series 300s left to be made and most exciting of these for me are the European charter airlines that took people to the sun and snow during the 80s, 90s and, with LCCs, even into the 2000s.
In recent months the DC-9 has been back in the release schedule for Aeroclassics with some lovely exotic models, like Air Aruba, and some classic mainline treats, like TWA. Although the type has been well represented in 1:400 there are still easily over 50 that I'd like to see on the Aeroclassics mould.
There are few civil airliners with the importance of the 727 and it quickly became the mainstay of the world's airline fleets through the 1970s and well into the 1980s. There were 572 727-100s built and the type has had some interest in 1:400 scale, with over 190 models made, but there have been none since 2014. This sorry situation leaves a good number of models unmade, several of which are really important historically.
The late 1980s and early 1990s are a curiously poorly represented period in 1:400 scale. NG Models has been making good use of its 757 to fill the gap but there are large numbers of MD-80s, early A320s and 737 classics that have been neglected. Panda already has an excellent 737-300 but hasn't been using it as much as I'd like. Now they are producing a series 400, which is a major gap in production. Here's a look at what they ought to make with the new casting.
Few aircraft could make the ground shake quite like a BAC One-Eleven and being a Gatwick based kid I heard a lot of them. Dan Air, BIA, BCal and BA all flew One-Eleven 500s from LGW and the type kept going into the 90s with European. It is yet another of the overlooked types in 1:400 despite there existing a superb casting. Here's a snapshot of what could be made.
Considering there were only 85 aircraft made you could argue the Bristol Britannia has had a fair run out in terms of 1:400 scale models with 32 releases. Nonetheless the big prop has been rather ignored in recent years and no UK historic fleet is anywhere near complete without a larger representation of the type. It may be a long shot but let's see what could still be done.
The A320 family is hardly under-represented in 1:400 scale. Even so most manufacturers are fixated on the now and looking back to the service entry of the original A320 is way outside their interest. That’s a shame as there are plenty of cool models that have not been made for A320s from 1987-1995.