BPK 1/72 Boeing 737-200 Piedmont Airlines
By Gerry Nilles
The genesis of the 737 dates back to the spring of 1964 when initial design studies formally began. The decision, by Boeing, to build a short to medium range airliner was not taken lightly especially considering the market was already dominated by the both the Douglas DC-9 and the BAC One Eleven. However, Boeing felt it could do it better and considering the fact the after almost a half century the 737 is still in production, it certainly proved to be the right decision.
Development of the initial 737, (the -100 series), began in November of 1964 with the first customer order, from Lufthansa, following in February of 1965. The maiden flight, of the -100 prototype, took place 30 months later in April of 1967. At this point, I should note that the design of the 737 obviously varied from the competition, in that it had the same size fuselage that both the 707 and 727 used. In fact, the 737 ended up having almost 60% commonality with it bigger brother the 727. The other major design deviation from the pack is the placement of the engines on the wings using the flush mounted design pioneered for the outer engines of the B-47 bomber. Actually, aerodynamic necessity, resulting from the use of a larger fuselage diameter, dictated engine location more than any other considerations.
Deliveries of the initial 737-100 to Lufthansa began in December of 1967. However, production of the -100 ended at only 30 planes in that Lufthansa, along the other customer airlines, including United, wanted more capacity. The result of these customer requests was to stretch the fuselage 36 inches forward of the wing and 40 inches aft of it. Re-designated the 737-200 the rest, as is said, is history. Initial production deliveries of the -200 began in the spring of 1968 and end 20 years later in August of 1988. During that period 1114 737-200s deliveries occurred.
First, and before I begin the kit review, I want to thank Dave Cooper of Cooper Models for the example of the 1/72nd scale 737-200 kit by BPK. Like many in our hobby, Dave has a real day job yet still manages to operate his own kit import business, a business that makes it so much easier for us to obtain what would otherwise be hard if not impossible to find rare and limited run kits.
The BPK 737-200 is an injection-molded kit with a few resin parts and a fret of straightforward photoetch (translation: no bending required). Considering this is the first and only 1/72nd injection molded kit of a production 737 ever produced, a comparison is really not possible, and no, the old Aurora 737 kit doesn't count because it is based on the 737 sales "mock-up".
The BPK kit is not an overly complicated build. However, there is definitely sufficient detail provided including a nicely detailed cockpit, landing gear, and the landing gear bays. As for other highlights, BPK has taken a rather interesting and cleaver approach to the clear parts that make up both the cabin windows and the cockpit area. The windscreens in the cockpit are accomplished by providing a complete clear nose section, less the radome. The cabin windows are likewise complete clear fuselage side panels with the windows engraved in them.
I should note here that the kit also comes with a sheet of pre-cut masks for all the windows and even the doors. Speaking of the doors, and although they are already nicely scribed into the fuselage the kit comes with an optional and individual main cabin entrance door as well as both cargo/baggage compartment doors. However, be advised that there is no cabin of cargo compartment interior detail, or floors, provided other than the cockpit area. Finally, the assembly instructions are both well illustrated and easy to follow.
Markings & Painting Guide
It is so nice to see kits like this being produced, especially if you are a fan of 1/72nd scale airliners. BPK has certainly started with a quality kit of one of the, if not the most, successful airliner ever produced.