West Atlantic is an all-freight 737 operator based at East Midlands Airport in the UK. It’s the only operator now at Coventry Airport, Baginton, just down the road from Birmingham International and not more than 30 miles from East Midlands, just 8 from me and the home of Coventry Aviation Museum.
While it may be largely UK registered, it’s actually a Swedish company, and the West Atlantic brand is an amalgam of several subsidiary airlines. Until recently they operated a BAe ATP freighter out of Coventry.
So it’s pretty much as local to me as it gets. On top of that this aircraft is significant for another reason, it was the first Boeing re-manufactured 737-800F. Officially a 737-836NBCF the aircraft is now registered as G-NPTA.
In its past life, since delivery in January 2004 as EC-ISL with an all-economy 189 seat layout, no less than 7 different operators flew her (Futura, Ryan International, Primera Air, Travel Service, Sunwings & SpiceJet, then West Atlantic).
The aircraft was converted by Boeing’s MRO Shanghai facility before being flown to Victorville for completion and delivery to GECAS who leased it to West Atlantic.
The livery on this aircraft is also one of its highlights – rather than some bland white, West Atlantic has the courage to have a proper livery – and one that it’s had for some years in one guise or another in its now amalgamated brands.
Add to all of the above, this is the first NG 737 mould I’ve seen so that’s another first for this aircraft.
There is currently little demand for small freighters, with both Airbus and Boeing forecasting higher demand than in the coming years. Both have started programmes for air frame conversion – indeed Airbus’ first partner was Irkut back in 2008 but nothing came of it. Airbus has several partners able to do the work, although so far its been restricted only to the larger A330P2F.
There is a disappointment here; no stand hole. To me this matters, but to many of you it might not so much. Length and width are all correct, and to my mind it has probably the best nose of any of the current moulds. It genuinely appears to be a new and unique to NG, not copied from someone else. It’s nothing like the Phoenix, Gemini or AC latest versions. I would stick my neck out and say it was better.
This was an expensive model, have no doubt about that, at some £43 (US$55) for a 738 model is pretty steep. When you think you can get a JCW 789 for almost half that new.
The good news is, that the paint, aerials, and 4K levels of detail are all truly exceptional.
Once again the type of paint used is highly realistic, without excessive gloss. On top of that the graphics are extraordinarily sharp.
The big forward left side cargo door is also superbly printed, enough to make it stand out but not in such a way that it slaps you in the face with obscene over emphasis. So often these things are over done to detrimental effect, or virtually invisible. This is a good balance.
A quality installation and superb colour and detail. Again this silk-matt finish works so well, allowing mould details to show through. Excellent.
The Winglets are also superbly done with clearly defined West Atlantic logos on the external faces.
The engine pylons are also neatly moulded in and the leading edges, while silver, are very fine and superbly done.
Clearly somebody has been paying attention here because the outer wheel hubs are blue and the inner ones are light grey, just as they are on the real thing.
The nose gear is frankly outstanding, finely detailed, well positioned and with superb tyres and wheels.
I’m pretty sure the engines are metal. They don’t have the tell-tale flimsy feel of the plastic versions so cheaply used by JCW/Gemini and Phoenix. This is further emphasised by the horizontal stabilizers also being metal, which almost everyone else has dropped for plastic (largely to stop the model falling backwards because they couldn’t be bothered to design it with good weight distribution, and its cheaper).
The only small downside is that, as has so often happened on these quite small engines for many years, the silver rims, head on, aren’t receptive to paint as well as might be desired. However the fans are dark titanium and highly realistic so that’s a big plus point.
The exhaust paint is also excellent and the overall engine mould first class. The nacelle paint is another fine example of the excellent way NG use it on their models.
Stunningly good, highly refined, superbly accurate. Nothing for me to complain about and everything to praise.
Just outstanding, in terms of paint, detail, graphics and definition, never mind exceptional assembly. Have a look underneath too, nothing has been missed.
From the very pale grey base to the blue, red and yellow, the titanium fan blades and the overall print, it sings quality.
8.Score and conclusions
- -1 for silver rim paint not up to the highest standards this price point reflects
OVERALL SCORE 99%
Another stunningly good model from NG. I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Really wonderful, it’s a model I never expected anyone to ever make, so that’s a major point in itself, and its superbly done, with just one tiny flaw.
I know some of you can’t be bothered with freighters, but this so gorgeously done. I’m not sure what others I’d pay this sort of money for a 737 for though, it would have to be very special, and not many 737’s enter that realm these days. If they did the Egyptair 738, maybe…
The lack of a stand hole is a pain, but it’s not a fault. I would have preferred it as I use them all the time. Still, what more can be said. Overall it’s a brilliant model.