Revell 1/144 L.1049G Super Constellation

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

Overview

Some of the most interesting aircraft and liveries marked the post-war airliner era. DC-4s, DC-6s, and DC-7s shared the skies with Stratocruisers and Constellations, transporting passengers to just about every corner of the globe. Out of those aircraft, the Constellation is probably the most elegant, with its three vertical fins and smooth upper fuselage curve. Influenced by TWA’s Howard Hughes, Lockheed produced the Constellation to compete with Douglas’ DC-4. To keep up with the changing airliner market, Lockheed developed the L.1049 series from the earlier Constellation series, recognizable from its longer fuselage and square windows. In this guise, the Super Constellation became the most popular Connie, serving in the fleets of numerous airlines for decades.

The Kit

When Revell announced this kit, it caught many modelers by surprise. Many already had the decent Minicraft kit in their stash, but the general consensus was that this new Revell kit would raise the bar in 1/144 Connies. Now that it is here, I can say that they pretty much raised the bar out of sight. Petite recessed panel lines throughout, coupled with detailed landing gear, a cockpit interior, clear cabin windows, and a stunning decal sheet makes this kit THE Connie kit to have in 1/144. The best part is that you won’t have to break the bank for it, either, as it is roughly the same price as the Minicraft kit, sitting right at $20.

The construction of the kit begins with the cockpit, and although tiny, it does provide enough business to be seen through the small cockpit windows. There are three seats, two tiny control yokes, and an instrument panel/hood. The latter gets a small decal sheet to provide semblances of the instruments. The completed assembly then fits on top of the nose gear well, which in turn fits into the fuselage halves. Long strips of clear pieces make up the individual cabin windows, and with the noted 15 grams of weight in the nose, the fuselage is ready to be closed up. On the front end, there is the option of using either the more streamlined radar nose, or the blunter original nose. The latter is molded in clear, to allow the modeler to mask off the prominent landing lights found there.

The wings are molded in three pieces, with the one-piece lower wing maintaining the proper dihedral. The upper wing pieces include the full control surfaces, as well as the complete wingtips, which capture the washout quite nicely. An interesting tidbit is that the wing planform is the same as that found on the P-38 Lightning, as are the outboard vertical fins. Now that’s a nice way to recycle those old drawings! Those vertical fins are molded as one piece, sliding into notches in the horizontal stabilizers.

Moving on to the engines, these have the front bank of cylinders provided, with a separate propeller shaft running through them. The two-piece cowling traps this assembly inside, and the cowl opening is just big enough to show those cylinders off. The upper and lower scoops are separate pieces, completing the engine assemblies. These mate up to the rest of the nacelle on the wing, and as the seam is tough to get at, I strongly recommend several dry runs to make sure the seam is as tight as possible. Other wing details include the optional tip tanks, which are split in half. While the options presented in the kit decal all had these tanks, some L.1049s did not, so check your sources if you branch out to other liveries.

Looking at the landing gear, these assemblies are little gems. The nose gear has a separate retraction arm and fine detailing present on the main strut. The separate wheels have nice hub detailing as well. The main gear is similarly well detailed, also with a separate retraction strut. The main gear doors are all separate pieces, while the nose gear doors are molded in one piece, designed to be cut apart for those who want to display their model gear down. The remaining details include just about every antenna present on the real thing, and the instructions indicate where extra rigging is required.

For decal options, as this kit is an officially licensed Lufthansa product, it obviously comes with Lufthansa decals. The main aircraft is D-ALIN, the aircraft flown to Moscow with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1955 to free German prisoners of war. Also included are the registrations D-ALEM (the boxtop aircraft), D-ALID and D-ALAP, which are all finished similarly except for the registrations, with one notable exception. For D-ALEM and D-ALAP, the Lufthansa emblem on the rear fin is not backed in yellow (an apparent error in the boxtop painting). Common to all of the Lufthansa aircraft is the white top and natural metal bottom, with the wings in natural metal. The tip tanks are white. The attractive blue and yellow cheatline wraps under the nose, and the decals are carefully designed to handle this. Note that all of the Lufthansa aircraft feature the blunter early nose style.

The other options presented on the sheet are Trans World Airways, the airline behind the development of the Constellation. There are three registrations provided: N7104C, N7125C, and N7114C, but only 7125C and 7114C are noted on the instructions. For N7125C, this aircraft has the radar nose and carries the name “Star of Chenonceaux” on the nose. N7114C is a non-radar nose Connie and has the name “Star of Mont St. Michel” on the nose. This leaves one last name, which must therefore be for N7104C, “Star of Blarney Castle.” The basic livery is the same for all of these aircraft, with a mainly white fuselage, red two-line cheatline, and TWA and Trans World Airways titles in the usual places. One interesting feature on this sheet is the wing walkways for the TWA schemes. These are presented as a series of parallel lines. In checking the few photos I have of TWA Connies, it would appear that this is how they are applied on the “Save A Connie” modern restoration, while the period TWA Connies had solid color walkways. It would be easy enough to create new ones using the kit markings as a template, though.

Conclusion

This is easily the best 1/144 Connie out there, and could even be considered better than the Heller 1/72 Connie kit. The high quality of tooling, coupled with the wonderfully printed decal sheet, will make this a popular subject for airliner modelers. There is also extensive military crossover as well, in the form of the C-121, and I am sure it will not be too long before we see aftermarket decals for some of those more interesting schemes. Hopefully this marks the beginning of Revell producing lots of 1/144 Lufthansa aircraft. My vote goes out for a new-tool DC-10 or 707.

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