IranAir A321 EP-IFA Phoenix 11350 1:400 March 2017

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Iran Air, established in 1946, is the state-owned arm of the Islamic Republic’s civil aviation sector. These new aircraft are the first it’s received through normal channels in decades. I say ‘normal’ because the various Iranian airlines have acquired others through nefarious (but it has to be said ingenious), means in the past.  Years of financial system sanctions, technical and military sanctions, economic and political sanctions, have forced – as they do all such governments – Iranians to become adept at making things last, long after they would have been sent to the scrapyard elsewhere.

With the agreement to end Iran’s nuclear weapons development programme, and the enrichment of Uranium ore to weapons grade, the sanctions have started to lift. European Governments, as well as Russia are convinced that Iran has ended its programmes, and is in compliance. The ever-suspicious and untrusting elements of the US Government and Congress don’t see it quite the same way, and Boeing’s deal to supply up to 100 aircraft may never come to fruition. It’s possible the Europeans will change their mind, not over the nuclear programme, but over Iran’s behaviour in Yemen, Bahrein, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria, which is becoming more and more destabilising.

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Rarely has politics, and international relations, been so heavily tied to the delivery of civil aircraft. Yet despite this, Iran has maintained civil travel, to Europe especially, over many years. I’ve often seen their ancient A300’s or A310’s at London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Vienna.

Politics aside, Iran is an extraordinary country with a history longer than almost any other. Records back to 3,000BC show continuous occupation of the area, and there is an extraordinary visible past, coupled to amazing cultural, and religious history over nearly five millenia, though for most, it’s only the past 50 years anyone remembers.

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These elements are important, as modern tourism – passengers delivered by modern, safe aircraft, is seen as key to reviving elements of the economy that have been strangled through sanctions.  With international relations more volatile than any time since the worst parts of the Cold War, and certainly more fractured, you may as well guess if Iran will ever manage to fully complete its civil aviation renewal. Only a week ago, the delivery of an A332 was delayed because sanctions related banking issues blocked payment to Airbus.

Fitted with 12 business and 182 economy, EP-IFA was delivered on the 6th January 2017

So with that as a background, this humble looking A321 finds itself the centre of a complex global problem. The question now is did Phoenix do a good job of it or not?

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1.Fuselage

I’ve never had an issue with the Phoenix A321 mould. It’s as accurate as most others, though not as good at the nose as Panda’s or Aeroclassics A320/21 series.

The white paint makes it easy to establish a good level of technical print, small wording is legible and there appears to be no issue with the technical print and detail, but on close inspection the thin nature of the print is mildly detrimental..

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2.Wings and landing gear

In all fairness, they’re superb. The detail is still visible, the paint is not too thick and there’s lots of upper-surface detail that’s often swamped by paint. Very impressive. Both wings are slotted in really well and look highly realistic, no excess glue or paint issues.

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Landing gear is something JC Wings and Gemini could do with paying attention to – no sealed up hydraulics or unsightly flashing here. All the tyres are lump free, on axeled wheels and look first-rate, nose gear included.

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3.Engines

The rims are a bit sloppy on close inspection, and the density of the print could have been higher, but you’d be hard-pressed to see it with the naked eye, and that’s what matters. Rim and fan colour cause no offence and look better when there is no flash involved.

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4.Nose detail

At first glance it looks like a mark on the nose dome, but it’s the letter A. Iran uses the last letter of the registration on the nose for ID purposes. Detail is excellent across the board, in fact it’s possibly the neatest I’ve ever seen a Phoenix A321 finished.

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5.Tail detail

If you’re wondering what the tail logo is, it’s the result of a public crowdsourcing competition conducted by the airline. The creature is a derivative of the mythical Homa, a legendary Persian bird that was always in flight. The tail it flies on is well assembled and as accurate as the simple livery can ever be.

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6.Colours

No issue. White and deep blue-black for the most part, with the green and red bars of the national flag.

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7.Score and conclusion

A fascinating, if rather plain-looking addition to the RLSI collection. It’s historic significance outweighs any aesthetics. As a model, Phoenix have done a good job.

  • -4 for wobbly engine rim paint
  • -2 for lack of strong print in places that could have done with it
  • 94% is unusually high for a Phoenix A321!

My recommendation: A buy.

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