Southwest 737-7H4 N708SW (New Livery) AeroClassics 1:400 December 2014 Release
As Phoenix rarely make a model of a US Airline (presumably for legal reasons) the much awaited appearance of the new Southwest livery fell to AeroClassics. I’m a little surprised Gemini didn’t get their finger out a bit sooner with this one, but there we go. I have to say I find it rather striking and it stands out dramatically – it’s certainly a lot simpler and cleaner in a world where being different really matters and brand recognition is everything.
The box the model arrived in this morning is probably the most understated I’ve ever seen. It’s blue with the only identifier as the contents being a stuck on cheap photocopied Southwest livery strip glued to one side. The two-inch window is the only other giveaway as to what’s inside. Utterly uninspiring.
Originally a 1998 aircraft the winglets were fitted to her in February 2002.
1) Main Fuselage
This looks quite good I have to say, the 737-700 is substantially smaller than the -800 and on this model AeroClassics have used the push in wings, a welcome and very noticeable improvement Gemini could do well to adopt. The shape is very accurate compared to the real thing as well which is a relief as the Gemini 737’s I’ve had this year have been dreadful, the mould worn and the nose often flat. The fonts and colours all seem to match and there is no bleed, it actually comes across as looking extremely competent. What is missing – and there is not even an effort to outline its existence, is the huge comms dome toward the rear of the real thing and none of the aerials (there are two underbody) are to be seen.
The two CFMI CFM56-7B24’s are reasonably well reproduced. These have a quite noticeable exhaust cone but AeroClassics have probably tripled the length of the tailpipe to the point where it looks mildly stupid. Generally they are fitted fairly well and painted to quite a high standard. Overall fairly impressive but that tailpipe spoils it. The cone paint isn’t too brilliant either, but overall its quite a minor issue. The fans being painted silver is a little bit much as well but its not the end of the world and at least the paint is a fine type rather than looking like a clear coat with glitter embedded in it!
3) Landing Gear
Not for the first time the landing gear on an AeroClassics model is a major let down. It’s lacking any effort at detail and even though somehow the wheels all rotate they look too small and seem inadequate, to the point where they detract from the model. How they could have been better is not just pin tiny tyres onto axels but actually make a proper wheel with tyre on it then attach that to the gear.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
The tail is generally very good but the starboard side shows some slightly cracked paint as though post painting there had been some stress – possibly during packing and transport. It only shows up with daylight and is pretty much invisible most of the time.
5) Wings and underbody.
Underbody detail is minimal in the extreme, but they have bothered to put the Southwest Heart on the underside. The hole for a stand is one you should try to avoid using – it’s very shallow and getting the model to even sit on the thin arm Gemini stand for a few seconds for photography was not easy.
This is one thing I have often wondered what planet AeroClassics were on. I think on occasion they must have a colourblind colourist. However on this time they seem to have come up with the goods and got it spot on, so breathe a sigh of relief all round.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
I can’t score it down for what isn’t there, but for what is – the engine tailpipes are just daft, so -0.5 and the landing gear is poorly executed and cheap, so -0.5 for that too. Yet overall the entire thing is actually really rather good. Very few of these were made, I’m told numbers may be as few as 250, indeed my retailer received just two out of an order for 6. It’s quite a pleasing model of a great livery and I’m delighted to have it my collection, despite its cost at £30 ($50 US). 9/10
8) A little extra
Normally we would stop here but I thought it worth just pointing out some comparison with the Gemini version of the old SW livery. You can actually see clearly that AeroClassics are ahead of Gemini in most respects when it comes to technical execution.