easyJet A320neo G-UZHA Panda 1:400 2018

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As many of you will know this model edition from Panda has been subject to some controversy, like Panda themselves. easyJet are one of those airlines that like to keep control of everything relating to their brand image. Panda notoriously don’t make models in large numbers and the original seller in Hong Kong got the jitters over selling them, and cancelled the orders.

However certain intrepid individuals were able to get a small quantity – a few have ended up in the UK going for £80+ (US $113), but a generous supporter of 1400Reviews.com who resides in Europe provided me with one at cost, which was around €43 – about £37 (US $53).

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Now while I appreciate that easyJet is a major airline in Europe, and I’ve even flown on it a few times when there was absolutely no alternative, I don’t quite get the pseudo-cultish attitude towards it that millennials have, it just isn’t that ‘special’ an airline. Technically a ‘millennial’ is anyone who turned 18 in the year 2000 and all those who will turn 18 up to the end of 2018 – the generally accepted voting age in most countries. Hard as it might be to hear, 2019 will be the first ‘post-millennial’ year!

I understand that for many millennials they entered adulthood in the age of low-cost travel, for many easyJet was the first experience most had flying commercially. Does that explain what often seems like a slavish devotion to a single airline? It’s never really ranked very high in any satisfaction index. easyjet, like Southwest in the US (although easyJet has adopted many legacy airline behaviours Southwest would balk at), seems to just have that ‘x factor’, Ryan Air for instance has never been able to achieve.

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As Brexit approaches, this British airline is heading out of the door – already piling up a huge registration base in Vienna, Austria, and preparing to look at moving its entire HQ operation there. If you think they won’t go, I’d not bet on it. It’s a massive company and sentiment won’t get in the way. easyJet Europe already has 48 aircraft transferred from the UK register, with 25 more in easyJet Switzerland.

This particular aircraft G-UZHA, an A320-251N, Serial 7649, was delivered to easyJet on the 13th June 2017. 2x CFMI LEAP-1A26 power the aircraft and she’s fitted with an all-economy seating totalling 186.

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easyJet Group operates 291 aircraft – 136 A319-100 which it’s planned to phase out and replace with a mix of A321neo and A320neo. It also operates 149 A320-200 and 4 A320neo at the time of writing (Jan 30 2018), of which this model was the first. Oddly enough it also operates 1 BAe146-200 and 1 BAe146-300 at present out of Berlin Tegel as it ramps up operations following the AirBerlin acquisitions.

1.Fuselage

This is the standard Panda A320 mould. As such it’s an excellent all-round shape and as accurate as anyone could expect.

The benefit of Panda models is they have aerials. Three, small, neat, appropriately sized aerials on the roof, and one underneath, proving unequivocally that these can be done, and made to look right on an A320. Every other manufacturer should take note when they don’t always manage the same feat, if they employ them at all.

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The livery and technical detail is exceptionally well printed and painted. A320’s offer up an extraordinary challenge for precision detail, sitting as they do in that gap between the largest airliners and the very smallest.

There’s an extraordinary amount of detail, far more than say the Aeroclassics Air Moldova or Eurowings Holidays A320’s reviewed recently, and better than the grossly overweight Gemini/JCW version and even the Phoenix. Technical detail is especially  notable, both on the roof and underneath.

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One thing that fails miserably and may not matter to many of you, is the stand hole; it’s too shallow and far too wide. To take the in-flight photos I had to use a big blob of white-tac to hold it on, so I’ve doctored the hole and the tac out – I hate doing that but in this case its worth it.

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2.Wings

An excellent detailed set of wings. The actuators casings painted orange as they should be underneath, sharklets neatly done with logos fully legible. Upper surfaces are spot on for detail, quantity and quality of paint.

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What hasn’t worked is the over-wing escape route markings. The white base has been tinged with orange during the over print, suggesting the paint was still wet when the orange arrows were applied.

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Panda have also removed the fault in the wing root, that stopped it meeting the fuselage properly, so everything now fits perfectly.

3.Landing gear

To be honest, very disappointing. Panda had been using real wheels – have a look back at the Lufthansa A320neo – and they’ve for some reason devolved.  Fat tyres on an axle, rather than a real wheel with a tyre are used. One of the main gear tyres fell off and vanished before I could find it, but fortunately I have a significant supply of spares now. As a precaution all of the wheels have now been glued on.

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It’s at this point I noticed the inner wheel has gone missing

4.Engines

The various engines that power Neo’s are huge compared to those of the past, mostly to accommodate the enormous hi-bypass fans that help improve economy.

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It has to be said, and again I refer you to the Neo triple test above, that Panda have got the engines down extremely well as far as moulds go. Plastic with plastic pylons they may be, but they’re good, and not as flimsy as those on other brands.

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The nacelles aren’t exceptionally detailed on the real thing, with minimal markings on it and the model. The fans are a superb colour – Panda have seemingly understood this from the start. The rims are a little iffy though, especially from the front, the silver isn’t 100%. Exhausts on the other hand are outstanding.

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5.Nose detail

Superb, especially notable is the Neo logo. Really remarkably detailed and completely legible.

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6.Tail detail

Again, just superb, really beautifully assembled. Add to that the quality of print and paint, a remarkably good quality finish and detail.

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7.Colours

Frankly an amazingly accurate match, outstanding.

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8.Score and conclusions

Accuracy

  • -3 for those tyres on a spigot – that’s not what the real thing’s wheels look like
  • 47/50 for accuracy

Quality

  • -2 for the orange paint in the white escape runs
  • -2 for a wheel falling off
  • -2 for the not quite good enough silver engine rims
  • -1 for the poor stand hole
  • 43/50 for quality

90% overall is an Excellent score. 

Like it or not Panda are making some really nice models. They may be incredibly hard to come by and grossly expensive by the time they’ve passed through several hands to reach western customers, but if you’re lucky enough to get one, glue the wheels on, and you’ll be fine!

My recommendation: I can’t say ‘go and buy one,, they’re way too expensive for that and hardly easily available, If you can find one for a reasonable price, little will stop you I suspect. 

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Don’t forget to visit 1:400Reviews news blog: AviationNews.online 

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