Herpa Airport Tower Set 1:500 Scale 519670 (used on a 1:400 scale diorama)

If you’ve ever seen the frightful First Choice Air Traffic Control Tower, which is a design based on something from the mid 1950’s and looks more like a 1930’s concept of a futuristic TV tower, never mind being painted so badly it looks like a mouldy wedding cake on a stick, you’ll understand why I decided to do this. Not only is it massively high, even for an ATC tower it measures the equivalent of over 350ft. It looks mildly ridculous and there are no 1:400 alternatives.

So what to do? I’d seen the Hrepa tower, a modern and relatively dateless design and it’s quite reasonably priced at around £17 ($28 US). However it’s 1:500 scale and that means its 25% smaller than it would need to be in 1:400. at 17cm high in 1:400 it would be 68m (223ft high) – the 1:500 would make it 85m (278.8ft).  Would it really make that much difference? Would it look out of place?

There is no statutory max or minimum for an ATCT but practicality says it needs to be high enough that it can see every area of the airport visually. Heathrow for example is 87m high but has to see almost two miles. If it gets a third runway it will actually need a secondary tower. The new Edinburgh Airport ATCT on the other hand is just 57m high – shorter than the Herpa would be in 1:400. The new Birmingham Airport tower is only 37m high and has visibility over 3300m  of runway plus the airport. Frankly it seems to me that the 1:500 tower fits a very nice spot between two extremes. So I ordered it.

It arrives in the modern Herpa box;

Front of Box
Front of Box
Variations possible with the kit.
Variations possible with the kit.

I have to say I looked at it and thought what an amazing idea, but when I opened the box I thought it was going to be way too small, I looked for the instructions inside the neatly packed box.

The contents neatly laid out
The contents neatly laid out

And the instructions. Really? Instructions? Not really understanding how they were supposed to work all I could do was basically design my own from trying to see how it went together. Each piece is push fit, its incredibly simple and beautifully made. You can’t get the shape wrong because each piece is a circle with a slightly squared edge to lock the piece in. If you don’t like it, pull it apart. It allows for an amazing level of personal preference and a choice, so you don’t have to have the same as everyone else.

Dind't really understand the
Dind’t really understand the “instructions” – more a parts list.

I don’t know if I should or could paint it. The plastic is so neat and smoothly finished and my paint skills are not what they were. But I like it, it suits the airport and Gemini terminal far more than the hideous First Choice example.

In short 10/10, it’s a really high quality item and surprisingly well priced, it looks far better and easily passes off as 1:400.

IMG_0191 - Version 2

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