Europe has never been a focus of my collecting, which originally began as USA only, but has now broadened out to a wide variety of classics pre-1990, plus modern Russian and Chinese. Even so excluding UK airlines I have accumulated 67 European and 8 Russian models spread across the period from 1950-1990. As a child probably the most exciting times I had were the once or twice a year my father took me for a daytrip to Heathrow to visit the classic viewing area on Terminal 2.
By then the viewing area had been reduced heavily from the days of the old Queens building and was focused on a smaller area overlooking Terminal 2's foxtrot apron. For me this has become one of my formative and iconic airport sites and I am very tempted to start a new diorama design using this small 2 pier area as the model. Plans are already forming on this and looking at photo evidence it appears that in the period from about 1976-1990 there was little change in the appearance of the terminal 2 piers.
The latter part of that period coincides with my visits quite nicely but to have a worthwhile diorama I need suitable models. The primary types using these gates during the period were A300s, A310s, B727s, B737-200/300s and DC-9/MD-80s. It is fortuitous that Aeroclassics has just started making A310s, since they were so popular with European national carriers, and the only major holes in terms of types are the MD-80 and TU-134. More about these types later.
I have given a think to what aircraft would be suitable for my diorama, ignoring aircraft just passing by (like the BA fleet) and it is interesting to see the existing holes in the output of the manufacturers for what are usually fairly major and well known airlines. Obviously the onus is nowadays on Aeroclassics but once upon a time Gemini and Phoenix were players too.
My list is split into three sections:
I have some catching up to do in terms of building a suitable fleet for this prospective diorama since I have only 24 European models that fit (see yellow blocks). Looking at the white boxes with black text it can be seen there are lots of models that have been made that I don't own, though I am under no illusions about how difficult it'll be to get some of them. The Adria Airways and ATI DC-9s for example were hangar club models with less than 100 made of each.
It is also interesting to see how some airlines have found favour (Tunisair for example) whereas others like Air Algerie have not. Icelandair, of course, sticks out like a sore thumb and is regularly asked for on the wishlist threads of 400ScaleHangar - to no avail as of yet. Air Malta is another that had an attractive livery I think would sell well, but has not been produced.
It is hoped for that all the A310s will be filled in using the new Aeroclassics mould given time, since they would all sell well I think. There's also plenty of room for later Cypriot, SABENA, THY and TAROM schemes but they're out of scope for the 1980s.
The MD-80s are a real problem. Dragon used their good mould well but failed to produce a range of 1980s models. The lack of Swissair (chocolate stripes), SAS and Alitalia MD-80s in 1/400 must be three of the most glaring holes in the whole history of the scale (I guess I should mention BA Landor 757s here too). It is bizarre that nobody has made these models yet. It would be staggeringly welcome for Aeroclassics to return to the DC-9 to make either a DC-9-10 or MD-80 to go with their excellent series 30s and 50s.
The TU-134 is a notable absence but the airline's using it never had the same frequency to Heathrow as MD-80 users, nor always used the Tupolev so it's not as obvious it's missing. Will we ever see a TU-134 in this scale? I doubt it. Andrew has stated that Russians don't sell so Aeroclassics is out. Phoenix have shown no interest in downsizing their moulds, which means we'll need a new player in the market with an interest in classics. That doesn't seem very likely.
So that's about it. Outside of the models I've mentioned already, two that AC could easily make would be an Air France liveried TAT F28 and a bare metal JAT 737-300. Both firm sellers I'd expect, so get to it Andrew!
One last request. I doubt my list above is complete. If anyone can spot any models or airlines and aircraft I've missed please shout out. For example did Syrianair use the T2 gates?
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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