SAS still operates 8 of the A340-300’s which are eventually to be replaced with A350’s. Three are Norwegian registered and 5 Swedish. All but one, LN-RKP have been updated now with new interiors and wi-fi systems.
JC Wings back in January 2016 announced the A343 LN-RKF model along with an A333, eventually they were delivered in June. You can read the less than flattering review here on LN-RKF
These aircraft are now getting on in years for European standards, this one being delivered in September 2001, named Gudrod Viking.
Panda have already supplied an exceptionally good A333 mould, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to reproduce the A343. Only the wings with four engines and the centreline gear are different.
The key thing about this model, is it is one of the very few full-colour airline liveries. Only the SAS logo is pure white. It’s so important that I have no hesitation in once again, showing you SAS’s own colour palette, provided by SAS.
The colours are Pantone references, and what you have to remember is that the main body colour is actually described as grey – not, as many think, beige or even sand. It is a very pale colour and under strong sunlight seems to have slightly beige cast on some cameras, but in real life there is none.
The use of silver for the airline name tiles has always been an odd idea, as it to often vanishes in bright light – the very opposite of what you’d expect from an airline.
So to the model….
The differences between this Panda version and the JC Wings one are not huge. Indeed technically speaking why should they be if both were aiming for 100% accuracy?
The Panda however is better thought out and more intrinsically detailed. It’s especially noticeable around the rear of the wing root, which is closer to the real thing than the slightly too-long “crease line” on the JCW.
There are other positives on the Panda. The way the aerials, three up and one under (same as the JCW), are fitted and painted far more neatly, without visible holes.
In addition the Panda has the dome on the roof and it’s not especially well installed at all, indeed I’d say it was the wrong shape and too big. It also has the smaller dome at the front. However the forward dome is not painted white as it should be.
Now for the first time, I’m afraid the Panda doesn’t do so well. For one the body colour is out by a long way. The JCW was almost there, not quite, but this Panda is nothing like it. They’ve used too many photos to source their references from and the colour is beige again. It’s miles out, not even close.
What is so annoying about this is that SAS make it incredibly easy to find the correct information, they’re one of the most open and communicative airlines on the planet about such things.
Other than that all of the rest of the detail is outstandingly good, first class in fact, as we’ve come to expect from Panda.
OK, now despite the annoying habit of JC Wings to over-elevate the wings on their A330/343’s, though it has to be said they’re not as bad as on the original release of the American Airlines version A330’s, it’s still too high on the Panda.
The correct position is for the sharklets to be just below the roof line. NOT above it, not even when light on fuel.
The starboard wing (right side from above), appears to be almost correctly inserted to the fuselage and is largely accurate, perhaps a little bit high, but not badly. On the other side, the wing isn’t properly pushed in at all and is not flush with the forward wing root, so the wing appears over elevated.
This is the worst Panda I’ve seen so far, and while it isn’t a crisis level production issue, it’s not a good sign. Have Panda, whoever they are finally hit that wall where quality and volume are no longer partners, as demand rises?
It’s aggravated by another issue – the upper wing surfaces are another SAS-specific colour that Panda have ignored completely, choosing to just use the standard wing surface format. This was something the JC Wings got right.
Overall while the mould is fine, the fit and the paint colours are all wrong.
The landing gear is excellent, especially the centre wheel. Nose gear is also very good but I think a tiny bit high. Colour is neutral and the detail excellent, but again the nose gear looks a tad messy.
Right engines but again, failure to observe the correct detailing is acute. The entire engine is painted red, not as it should be in the photos at the top of this article, roughly 60:40 with the rest being body colour. A major fail. In addition the rims are OK, but not perfect, but at least the fan, exhaust rims and cone are correct.
It’s a little higher than it should be, caused by slightly tall nose gear, other than that it’s all pretty much as you’d want it to be. Nothing seems wrong or out-of-place, or poorly printed.
6. Tail detail.
The tail detail is better than on the JCW, especially around the horizontal stabilisers. The JCW has no black lines around the rotation point, the Panda, correctly does.
The main fuselage colour is wrong. A big fail.
8.Score and conclusion
- -20 for the primary fuselage colour, a very major fail
- -8 for the red engine paint detail fail
- -2 for the wrong colour forward roof dome
- -6 for the wrong wing upper surfaces colour, again lack of research. It took me five minutes to find an image showing the upper surface is correct on the JC Wings version and not on the Panda.
14/50 for accuracy
- -6 for the poor wing fit – not the sort of quality we expect from Panda!
- -1 for the nose gear not being where it should be in height
- -1 for the poor rear dome installation
42/50 for quality
Overall score: 56%
Too many major fails, lack of research lack of detail control, stupid mistakes. Add that to the poor quality of the wing fit, and this is, in all honesty a sloppy model when examined thoroughly. However to those with a less discerning eye and a less than demanding requirement for accuracy, you may not mind. More fool you because that’s the exact opposite of what you’re paying for! After all, these are not toys!
What it means is that Panda can make the same hideous mistakes as all the others, the same mentality is there, and the dangers are the volumes demanded by keen collectors will reduce the overall quality as there is less time to assemble things carefully.
Please don’t go there! Panda, whoever you really are, please don’t do it, quality has been the name of the game from you so far, let’s not spoil it.