I was sat in Frankfurt airport last Tuesday, and one of the biggest and most notable aircraft in the immediate vicinity was an A343 in Star Alliance livery. Another was a few stands up. We’d passed another on the way from our hard stand. I looked one up on eBay and ordered it there and then, and it was waiting for me when we got home.
Why did I want it? Alliance liveries are not that common, and other than Oneworld, which because of their logo type and nature makes it easy to apply on almost anything, Star Alliance and Skyteam require full aircraft liveries. Most member airlines are required to keep around 2% of their fleet in the alliances livery, though few do. I only have 1 A320 in Skyteam and 1 Austrian 738 in Star Alliance.
This specific model is of D-AIGC, delivered in 1993 and scrapped in late 2013. JCW did this model in 2012 as did Aeroclassics, and Phoenix in 2013. Herpa did a 1:500 in 2012.
This was a very early A343, MSN 027, and was designated as an A340-311. She was painted into this scheme in December 2003 and wore it until her last day. There was a short period in 2011-12 when she wore the square white-out-of-black ’15 years’ tile (Star Alliance 15th birthday), between doors 3 & 4.
Fitted with four CFMI CFM56-5C2’s and 44 business class with 222 economy, named Wilhelmshaven, she was one of 30 A343’s Lufthansa operated. Ten of them were 311’s with the remainder 313’s using the improved 5C4 engine and fitted with 8 First, 36 business and 197 economy. The older engine types were first to be withdrawn.
This arrived in its box, a quite large affair with a large blue Lufthansa crane somewhat randomly printed through the Star Alliance wording.
This is the old JCW/Gemini mould of course so looks pretty good generally, and the print quality is first class. Even the white paint is strong and clean, not the lilly-livered almost undercoat we get so often these days.
The print quality is so good that even the wording at door 4, “Airbus A340-300” above the word “Wilhelmshaven”, is completely legible and clear. There’s no blurring or paint issues anywhere to be seen.
Even the Lufthansa in blue at the nose is faultless.
2.Wings and landing gear
Cradle system but tight and well fitted. Correctly, the wings are a heavy white that matches the body. The silver leading edges are excellent. Even the black line in the central wing area is spot on.
Landing gear is a weak point on this model. The same rigid tyres-on-spigots they were using ten years before, not one wheel rotates. One of the middle set tyres has a huge lump. The doors of the main gear are painted in the heavy white, but the undercoat or whatever it is they are trying to adhere to, possibly bare metal, has not allowed it to dry properly making it look a little washed out around the edges. The rigid bogies won’t even stay flat on one side.
Overall, the wings are excellent, the landing gear so-so at best, made more so by the plastic looking nose gear.
The engine pylons are well done, excellently finished and painted, looking highly accurate. The engine colour looks too dark by several degrees, but the nacelles are well done just showing the outline of the reverse thrust panels.
The engine rims are extremely neat, well done in a thin, fine silver, at both ends. The fans, again at both ends, are a titanium colour and generally excellent.
All spot-on and really rather neat. Complaint free!
The Star Alliance logo on the black hasn’t worked so well. The black underneath has meant that the over-printed logo needed to have been lighter and brighter. Each of the five triangular shapes that makes up the logo has one lighter face, but it’s not even close to being light enough to work on the model.
The engine colours are way too dark for the real thing which is by several shades, a lighter grey. The lighter Star Alliance element hasn’t worked at all. The white however is strong and clean, just as it should be.
7.Score and conclusions
- -5 for the very mediocre landing gear
- -4 for the star in the tail, it just doesn’t work as it should and it’s a major element of this livery
- -4 for the engine colour
- 87% is however a very good if not excellent score.
Overall, it’s not a bad model at all, if you didn’t know better you’d think it more than reasonable. From a distance you’ll never know, and the overall quality feel, that showroom moment, is surprisingly high.
Would I buy it for the £23 (US$30) if I had seen it first? Absolutely.
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