SMA and the 747
I have written a history of SMA on the site already and it is a classic David vs Goliath battle of 400 scale with plenty of controversy and drama attached. It included double-dealing, one of Gemini's classic 'letters', behind the scenes machinations, fisticuffs and legal action but in the end resulted in Seattle Models ceasing to exist. Check it out here:
SMA models were made in the same Jinbo factory as Aeroclassics and BigBird between mid-2003 and mid-2005. They used their own moulds but also had limited access to some of the Aeroclassics and BigBird moulds such as the 727-100. SMA never had a 747. In the end they made only 59 models and only one of them was a 747, using the BigBird mould, which was widely used by Aeroclassics, and released in April 2004. This model is the model that has recently joined my collection - the United Airlines Boeing 747-123 N156UA in the 1990s Battleship Grey scheme:
In keeping with the somewhat fractious nature of SMA's existence there appears to have been some controversy over this model and whether it was licensed or not (something that has never actually mattered) and whether it would be stopped at the US border. It wasn't but it was the only time SMA got to use the BigBird 747 mould.
As the customer number indicates this 747 was not delivered to United and was originally N9666 delivered to American Airlines in October 1970. It was sold to Citicorp and leased to Braniff (in 1978) and the second National Airlines (in June 1984) before being leased in July 1986 to Cargolux as LX-LCV. Further leases followed to Iran Air (July 1986) and BWIA (April 1987) prior to sale to United.
United at the time had recently acquired Pan Am's Pacific network so no doubt the addition of extra widebodies to support that was behind the decision to add this frame. Indeed N156UA was one of 5 ex-American 747-123s acquired at the time (four from Cargolux) registered N153UA-N157UA. N156UA was stored at Las Vegas on September 23, 1999 and was broken up from March 2000.
The Livery in 400 Scale
Greys seem to be an issue in 400 scale and this livery even more than the BA Landor scheme has an incredible variety in releases over the years. Arguably SMA have the grey a little dark here but even after nearly 17 years the colours are still vibrant and make the scheme, never a favourite of mine, look better than it did during the day.
It is hard to acquire 747s using the BigBird mould for decent $ nowadays and they remain the best available for the majority of subjects. Hopefully there'll be a new generation of 747 classics coming in the next few years but until then I'm glad to have this model in my collection, because it is bloody nice and also because it has a unique place in 400 scale history.
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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