SAS A320neo LN-RGL Aeroclassics 1:400 April 2017

SAS

Certain airlines, and SAS Scandinavian is amongst them, hold a certain place in my esteem, largely because despite everything, they’re still here (and it hasn’t been easy, SAS was close to bankruptcy not 2 years ago), and it’s why, when I decided I needed to rationalise my well-past-capacity collection, I chose to keep it.  Overall, legacy carriers and their subsidiaries, will now always get first call.  It means a lot will have to go, but opens up other opportunities at the same time.

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In many ways this isn’t entirely unlike what SAS have had to face themselves. Lots of things had to go, it wasn’t a badly run airline, but it wasn’t setup to compete in the same bizarre way Norwegian is. It had three operating centres, from its founding days as the only truly pan-national airline, split between Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Even now elements of its aircraft fleet are still split between them, though with modern open skies arrangements in Europe, that means much less than it did, and is little more than paperwork.

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At Finkenwerder prior to delivery. I chose the above two photos because they truly emphasise in natural light the real colours, which can be hard, but not impossible to pin down on camera. However it has to be pointed out that SAS have one of the most open and easy to find commercial corporate colour scheme guidelines of any airline anywhere.

So, having revamped its network, it’s routes, and it’s priorities, SAS is a new animal. It has a niche like most legacy carriers, offering service levels way above those only willing to travel on a budget, but on the right routes, especially inside Europe, offering what economy and business travellers want, without dropping down to Norwegian or easyJet/RyanAir levels. It’s a hard line to draw, but for now it seems to work.

With new Airbus aircraft on order, from the A350 down to the A320, the airline is in good shape moving forward.

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Note how some flash and a 100w equivalent natural daylight bulb tone down the colour. Still nowhere near accurate.

This aircraft, LN-RGL, was the first, of a 30 aircraft A320neo order made by SAS in 2011. Part of the airlines new business model is to take advantage of leasing rather than buying outright, which allows for more flexibility. Named Sol Viking, she’s owned by Pembroke Air Lease. Seven neo’s are already in service (as of May 29 2017), since this was delivered in October 2016.

Fitted with a flexi-mix of CY174 seating of the latest ergonomic type from Airbus, SAS aircraft are powered by the LEAP-1A26 engine.

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It’s not uncommon for the silver “Airlines” to be so feint it vanishes, but it is there, honest! the camera flash tones the beige down a little

1.Fuselage

It’s generally accepted that the mould on the Aeroclassics A320 is the best available, and that would still appear to be true.  Aeroclassics continue to improve their technical print and fine detail, all of which is as good as anyone else can provide. Overall, the fuselage is excellent.

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If it wasn’t for the baby-vomit beige, the wrong red and the wrong blue, and I was wearing dark glasses, this would almost look good.

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2.Wings and landing gear

Having just taken a close look at the Panda A320neo D-AIND (allegedly based on the Aeroclassics mould), the similarities are more than striking, all the way down to the same issue with the way the port wing fits underneath. To my mind they’re unquestionably the same, coincidences like that are simply impossible to ignore, especially when they’re so specific.

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Landing gear, while lacking the detail of the Panda, is OK. The engine rims are frightful.

The wings are excellent from above, well fitted (and with the same small fault the Panda has where it doesn’t quite fit the body underneath), and with plenty of detail, nicely painted generally excellent.

Landing gear on the Aeroclassics SAS however is highly inferior to the Panda version Lufthansa. That had tyres on wheels that rotate, Aeroclassics have chosen to remain in cheap skate territory, and plonk their usually sub-standard thin little black donuts onto a spigot.

3.Engines

If there was any doubt of the similarities between the AC and the Panda, the engines make it clearer still. The only visible differences are the way exhaust cones are coloured – both on the real thing and the models. The nacelles are virtually indistinguishable, again in real life or on the model.

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Above the red from JCW on their A333’s which is correct, and the red from AC which is really closer to the colour of Donal Trump’s fake tan

However, where Panda have paid more attention to detail, is quite evident. They painted the fans a real titanium colour, and Aeroclassics have maintained their outdated penchant for lurid toys-r-us silver.

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That silver on those rims looks so second rate

Not only that but the rim paint has that thick, bottom-of-a-tin-of-Humbrol look about it; nasty. And don’t mention the red paint showing through the silver on the inner rims.

4.Nose detail

Cockpit windows and other details are first rate, but there is no indication of a nose dome or lines, as there is on the Panda.

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5.Tail detail

Very good all round. With an exception, as this model has but I’ve not alluded to much so far…

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The blue is so dark it’s teetering on black, quite wrong.

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6.Colour

Well, there’s only one thing to say. The fuselage is so the wrong colour it’s beyond bad. It’s not even the almost OK bad of the AC A321 from last year (OY-KBB). This is baby sick beige, and so wrong it’s almost funny.  You know the worst part about it is that SAS publish the precise Pantone colour, the CMYK and RGB mixes on their website. A demented goldfish could have found the real colours with a Google search. And of course, the tail colour, well it’s always the wrong blue on AC so at least that’s consistent.

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The AC A32N on the left, Phoenix 738 on the right. Neither is colour accurate in any way.

Before you ask, yes the engine red colours are also wrong, but not by as much as they usually are.

The great irony of this, is that the rear half of the nacelles is grey. It’s the same grey as the fuselage as you can see at the top of this article. Can you believe,  they got it right on the engines, but not on the fuselage? It’s like Incompetence 101 at AC’s colour department. If they can cock it up, they’ll find a way, and they have.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -15 for a primary brand colour fail (fuselage)
  • -5 for a secondary brand colour fail (tail blue too dark)
  • -5 for a secondary brand colour fail (red on the engines)
  • -4 for silver fans and bad rims
  • 71% is a fail

The remarkable thing about this model, is it’s not got a problem when it comes to technical print, build quality is excellent, there’s nothing structurally wrong with it. It’s a far nicer mould, far better put together than the truly awful Gemini/JC Wings Neo abomination, with its lump in the nose roof, and oversized engines that don’t fit, and drag on the ground.

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Top row: JCW A343, Phoenix 738, Witty 738, JCW 738   Bottom row JCW A333, AC A32N, AC A321

This is and remains Aeroclassics’s endless weakness. Colour choice is almost consistently poor, and here it is again, as far as SAS are concerned, this is the worst one of them all.

I could send it back, but I’m not going to, because the model itself is quite good and there’s something amusing about it. It’s probably the worst AC colour mis-match I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be using it as a marker on how bad they can be should evidence ever be required for a future review!

During June, when Gemini deliver their Lufthansa A320neo, there’ll be a comparison test with the Panda/AC version.

My recommendation: I can’t honestly recommend this model. It’s colours are so far away from realistic it’s too much money to waste on it. Having said that if this was a choice between the AC and the Gemini/JCW version, I’d pick the AC, ‘warts and all’ as they used to say!

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