Airfix 1/72 Concorde

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

History

The Concorde, which crosses the Atlantic at 1,350 mph, first flew in 1969. Since then, the Concorde has traveled around the world, but its most common circuit was the trans-Atlantic voyage. Flying at almost 60,000 feet, the Concorde avoided turbulence as it crossed the Atlantic in a mere 3.5 hours, less than half the time regular jetliners took. Airfare for these trips averaged around $9,000.

While the Concorde enjoyed an excellent safety record, on July 25, 2000 an Air France Concorde crashed, killing all on board. While the cause was not associated with any fault of the aircraft, by 2004 all of the Concordes in both British Airways and Air France fleets were retired, with all surviving examples finding their way into museums.

The Kit

The photo at the beginning of this review does not really put into perspective just how big the box for this kit is. At 865mm (a little over 34 inches) in length, this is a large model that requires a large box for its 90 pieces. On the positive side, though, while the finished model is long, it has a narrow wingspan, so it should not pose too much of a problem in the display case. To make things even easier, Airfix has designed the kit for three possible display options: on its gear, on a stand, or hanging from thread.

On general overview, this is as complete a kit as you could possibly get. The plastic parts are molded in white, silver, and black plastic, and feature recessed panel lines throughout. The tires are done in vinyl, an interesting option. Included with the plastic comes a set of paints, some brushes, glue, and a tube of Clearfix for filling in the cabin windows. All this for the low price of around $35 makes this one heck of a bargain, but this does not mean corners were cut. In fact, the detailing is quite good, and the decal sheet is simply amazing. More on that later....

The instructions start the assembly with the engine pods. These are a complicated affair, much like the real thing, with intake ramps, engine faces, and exhaust nozzles complete with clamshell reversers all fitting into a two-piece pod. All this fun, and you get to do it twice! The finished engine pods will look quite accurate, though, and do a good job of presenting the power of those Olympus engines.

Moving to the fuselage, the next big step is the cockpit. This is provided as a one-piece floor, with separate instrument consoles for the center station between the pilot and copilot as well as the engineer's side station. A separate instrument panel is provided, and decals are included for all of the instruments. Three seats and two control yokes finish off the interior, and it will be interesting to see just how much of this is visible once the nose is together.

Speaking of the nose, the front section of this kit is designed to droop down, just like the real thing. To do this, the folks at Airfix have engineered a complex arrangement of arms that all need to be aligned right in order for everything to work. The instructions are clear, though, and there doesn't appear to be any potential areas for hangup if you should choose to go this route. For the modeler who prefers to have everything fixed in place, skipping these steps will greatly reduce your build time.

The fuselage is split into ten pieces: two main cabin halves, two tail halves, two cockpit halves, and two nose halves, with a separate nose cone and tail cone. Luckily all of these are keyed in one way or another, which should eliminate any alignment issues. The cockpit windows, both the fixed portion and the moveable streamlined portion, are clear and should show off all that detail. The cabin windows are hollow, and those are filled with the tube of Clearfix. These windows are pretty small, though, so it might be better to just fill those in and use black or dark gray window decals.

Moving on to the landing gear, the tall, spindly struts are nicely done in this kit and capture the look of the real thing nicely. For added strength, the main gear struts have a center post that is sandwiched between the two plastic pieces, which should ensure that the model will remain on its gear in the long run. The nose strut is sufficiently beefy in construction to hold up well, and all the extraneous actuators and such are included. Also present is the tailwheel strut.

The last big assembly point for this kit is the wings. This has a one-piece lower section that incorporates part of the fuselage, with right and left upper wing halves. The main gear bay is separate and fits into the one-piece lower wing. The tailwheel also has a separate bay provided, while the nose gear bay is molded in place. The elevons are separate pieces, as are the actuator fairings, so the more ambitious out there could reposition these easily. The remaining details include blade aerials and antennae, the fuselage strakes (which seem too high on first glance), and the usual wheel doors and such. Tack on the engine pods, and your Concorde is ready for paint.

Painting this model will be very easy. Basically, paint it white. The engines will get some metal treatment, but for the most part, once the base coat of white is applied, the rest of the finish work is done with decals. The decal sheet in this kit is truly amazing, as it fits the bottom of the box in width. For those of you who want to do an Air France Concorde, you will want to pick up the Heller release of this kit, as the Airfix kit comes with nothing but British Airways markings. You get ALL the liveries worn by British Airways Concordes, from their entry in service in 1976 to their retirement in 2004. The first option, dating from 1976-1984, has the classic red tail tip, with a straight cheatline through the windows. The second option, 1985-1997, replaces the red tail tip with blue, and modifies the cheatline to take on the Speedbird design somewhat.

The final option, 1998-2003, eliminates the cheatline altogether and has a wavy Union Jack segment on the tail and a stylized Speedbird ribbon on the forward fuselage. Unfortunately this is the only fault of the decal sheet, as this scheme has a very prominent shaded format to these design elements, and the decal is presented in solid color. The rest of the sheet is amazing, though, with complete registrations for all the BA Concordes and a complete set of stenciling that will have you decaling for days. The end result, though, will be an excellent model of the Concorde.

Conclusion

This is an outstanding new release from Airfix, and I hope that it marks the beginning of a spate of new releases from this company. The historical significance, coupled with the impressive size, will make this a popular kit for all modelers.

My sincerest thanks to Hannant's for getting this review copy to me in time for the October issue. I have always been impressed with their service, but this was a truly outstanding performance on their part.

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