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Kendall Model Company's 1/72 Boeing 727-200

By Chris Bucholtz

 

 

For many people under 35, the 727 is what the Curtiss Jenny and the DC-3 were to older generations. Many people - your reviewer included - made their first flights in the Boeing tri-jet, and more than 30 years after its introduction the 727 is still a common sight at the world's airports.

Upon its release, the 727-100 was an instant hit with airlines – but for reasons that would escape today's air passengers. It had a then-unique ability to deliver passengers over regional routes at jet speed at economical costs, and a tail-mounted air-stair door that allowed service to fields without expensive passenger handling equipment. It was the first medium range airliner to have an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) so it could be used at less sophisticated airports. At the time of its release, it was considered to have exceptional takeoff performance and had the optional capability to operate on unprepared surfaces if necessary.

After the 727-100's success, Boeing tailored a cargo version (-100C) and a variant that could be converted between passengers and cargo in less than 30 minutes (-100QC, for quick change). Domestic carriers began calling for a stretched version for greater passenger capacity a year after the first 727 hit the airways, and the result was the 727-200. The only major change was the addition of two fuselage plugs about 10 feet in length ahead and behind the wing. This increased the passenger capacity by 58 to a total of 189. The first flight of the -200 model was on July 27, 1967, with the first airline delivery to Northeast Airlines in December that year. A total of 1832 727s were manufactured before production ended in 1984, 1260 of them 727-200s. By September 1995, 727s had transported an amazing 4.3 billion people!

The Kit





Kendall Model Company's 727 is big, to say the least, as a model of a 153-foot aircraft should be. The model measures out well in length and wingspan, and it provides the modeler with an impressive starting point. The fuselage and wings are scribed with rather heavy panel lines, with the wings being much more heavily scribed than the fuselage. Oddly, the rudder, where heavier scribing would be appropriate, is scribed in some of the lightest panel lines in the whole kit! The fuselage fits together well, and Kendall is to be commended for avoiding the warp that hits almost all large model aircraft fuselage halves.

However, the fuselage does have a few problems. The vertical tail comes to a very thick edge, and the entire vertical tail is almost teardrop-shaped in cross-section. The fuselage-to-engine fairings on both halves have massive sink marks that will be difficult to eradicate. The windows are provided as individual pieces, but they're located too high on the fuselage in relation to the passenger doors, whose windows need to be drilled out. The belly appears too deep; the nose is too square in cross section and too long in profile. Sink marks mar the area around the nose gear well cut-out and ventral intake. There are some very nice touches, however, like the vortex generators on the tail and the rain gutters over the boarding doors.

There is no interior detail outside of a bulkhead between the 'cockpit' and the 'cabin.' The windows are provided as individual clear pieces, with the cockpit glazing a single piece. The eyebrow windows are scribed on the fuselage but are not provided as clear parts. A resin nose gear bay goes in the nose; this would be clearly visible through the cockpit glazing. The instructions say that no nose weight is necessary, but taping the parts together revealed that nothing could be further from the truth. Add weight, or else!

The reason the model is tail heavy is that most of the engine parts are detailed with resin pieces. The side engine pods themselves are injection molded styrene, but the exhaust sections and intakes are resin. The parts are detailed nicely enough, but the rear ends on the exhaust sections in my kit are so pitted with air bubbles as to be almost useless. Although the No. 1 and No. 3 engines get resin intakes, the No. 2 engine is ignored, leaving a nightmarish gallery of hard-to-get-at seams for the modeler to deal with.

The wings are depicted cleaned-up, with the leading edge slats and triple flaps retracted. The styrene wings are outfitted with resin flap fairings and clear position lights and landing lights. The wheel wells start on the wing and carry on to the fuselage, leaving another interesting seam.

The detail of the landing gear is quite nice, comprised of nine parts for each of the main gear and eight for the nose wheel. These are all cast in resin. This is a major concern; resin is not a solid but a very slow-flowing liquid, much like glass; when a large amount of weight is placed on it, it tends to deform.In the near-term, it's brittle and subject to snapping under stress. How well these resin gear stand up over time is very much in question. The gear doors are also cast in resin; one of mine had a very large raised blemish that needs to be sanded out.

The decals instructions depict one American Airlines 727, N107AA in the description and N707AA on the drawings, as it appeared in Miami in 1998. This is a primarily natural metal aircraft, with a gray wing. The American Airlines blue-white-red stripes are provided in eight sections for the starboard side and seven for the port side, requiring a good eye and a steady hand. The printing is bright and in registration. Elsewhere, however, there are problems. The serial is provided not as a single decal but as part of a 'number jungle.' The font used for the 'American' legend on the fuselage side is far too thin and anemic.

Conclusion

This kit is a living example of the proof that size isn't everything. From the difficult-to-correct profile errors on the nose and the strangely fonted decals, to the lack of interior and the use of resin for landing gear, Kendall's 727 is peppered with problems small and large, problems of detail, engineering and planning. At a lower price, fixing these problems would be something of a labor of love, but at $70, the modeler should expect a lot more. KMC is to be commended for taking on the subject, but their 727-200 is perhaps the most frustrating kit I've ever seen.




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