Frónfari : Icelandair Boeing 727-208Adv TF-FLI by Aeroclassics

Iceland is a nation with a rich aviation history born of its island status and its mid-ocean location between Europe and North America. Despite this until recently very little of that history had made it into 1/400 scale. Now however, as well as quite a lot of WOW Air we are also getting some great stuff from Aeroclassics illustrating both the current national airline Icelandair and its competitor Loftliedir.

THE REAL THING

 

TF-FLI at Heathrow in 1981 with her original silver belly. Photo by Tim Rees from Wikipedia

Icelandair as we know it today actually only came into being in 1979 through the merger of Iceland’s two major airlines Flugfélag (whose aircraft used on international service were titled as Icelandair) and Loftleidir. The latter had actually been the nation’s major international airline since the early 1950s. During the early 1970s both airlines were merged but the separate branding continued until the full merger in 1979 and the official takeup of the Icelandair name.

Flugfélag had been the first Icelandic airline to acquire jets, when on June 22, 1967 it accepted the new Boeing 727-108C TF-FIE ‘Gullfaxi’ from Boeing. Four years later a second aircraft was received, but this time it was a three year old ex-American Flyers 727-185C, which became TF-FIA ‘Solfaxi’. This pair replaced Douglas DC-6s and formed the airline’s jet fleet throughout the 1970s. The merger of Loftleidir added a number of DC-8s, which continued to be mainly used on low cost transatlantic operations.

This image looks like it came from a company postcard

The first stretch 727 joined on May 30, 1980 new from Boeing and was christened TF-FLI ‘Frónfari’. Another series 100 (a series 155C registered TF-FLJ) joined in late 1981 but was destroyed at Kabul less than a year later whilst on lease to Ariana Afghan. The fifth and last 727 in the Icelandair fleet was 727-276 Adv TF-FLK that served a three year lease from June 1987.

Later in her career with the flag moved to the tail and a grey belly

The 727s flew most of Icelandair’s shorter international services to destinations such as London Heathrow during the 1980s; however the future of the short haul fleet was the Boeing 737-408, which began to join the fleet in April 1989. With five on strength by April 1991 the 727s were all released. At the end of the 1980s newer Advanced model 727-200s were still in demand in the USA and accordingly TF-FLI was sold into that market. She joined Alaska Airlines as N329AS in October 1989 and nearly five years later transitioned to American Trans Air as N780AT. Her last revenue service was on October 6, 2001 when she was stored at Roswell.

 

THE MODEL

The format for my reviews is to split them into three key areas:

  • The mould of the aircraft
  • The paint and livery
  • Printing and quality control

Each can get a maximum score of 10 for a section giving a maximum combined total score of 30.

THE MOULD

Back in the early days of 1/400 collecting the 727-200 was a popular type to be made and Gemini Jets and Dragon produced a large number of fine tri-jets, mainly representing US airlines. Nowadays Aeroclassics is the only manufacturer left with a 727-200 that actually gets any usage (Gemini still has theirs but rarely get it out). The nose of the model is decent, it may not be perfect but it is more than good enough to look like a 727 (or 707 or 737 for that matter).

The wing join seam follows the contours of the real fairing well

This is a cradle mount mould so without slot in wings there is a seam join between the fuselage and wings. It follows the line of the wing join fairing bulge of the real thing so is quite discrete. At the rear the mould is not visible. It would be nicer if the mould was seamless here, like the Witty one, but I’m not too bothered. The rest of the fuselage and wings are fine.

Criticism of this mould has centred around two aspects – the middle engine exhaust and shape of the vertical stabilizer. It is true that the middle exhaust is a little too large but then again some of the other moulds have it too small.

The mid-engine exhaust is a little too large and the tail has seams at the top edge.

The vertical stabilizer is in general a decent shape and size; however it has a few negative detail issues that add up. Most obviously there is quite an ugly double seam line at the top edge where the horizontal stabilizers of the T tail join. The change of angle of the front edge of the fin is also not strong enough and this leads the whole top edge to be a bit too downward facing so the end of the tail top edge is slightly lower than it ought to be.

Control surface and side engine detailing is good

On the plus side the mould has a well detailed rudder and excellent side engines. Whilst admitting that the mould isn’t perfect it is still pretty decent in my opinion and it’s not like there’s a lot of choice left in the market for 727s anyway.

SCORE – 7

 

PAINT & LIVERY

In the livery the model represents. This image looks like it is a company photoshoot judging by the nosehigh attitude, no doubt so it could keep flying slowly with the photo plane.

There aren’t a lot of photos of TF-FLI floating about and many of them that do exist show here in her delivery scheme, which had a natural metal; finish on its lower half. I’m guessing that the classic Icelandair tail insignia is supposed to represent a stylized F in relation to the original Flugfélag name. The 1980s and 90s livery has this in blue on a white background creating a clean look. By the mid-1980s TF-FLI had acquired a light grey belly and this is the version of the scheme represented by this model.

Livery placement is fine

The colours on the model are fine as is the position of the livery elements. The cheatline around the nose maybe slightly too low but if it is it is very minor. Less impressive once again are the titles. Aeroclassics really do seem to have an issue when it comes to text. They are at least correctly slightly sloping but the spacing of the letters leaves something to be desired. It is around the two letter As where there is too much space. It almost says ‘ICEL A ND A IR’. Perhaps I’m nitpicking, certainly it is not as bad as other titles I’ve reviewed.

Spacing of the titles letters isn’t great

Other livery elements are in the correct places, including the aircraft name under the cockpit, Icelandic flag by passenger doors, registration on the middle engine and Boeing 727 titles on the outboard engines.

SCORE – 9

 

PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL

There is a good level of printing detail on the aircraft. Some elements, like the maingear doors, don’t need to be printed on as they are part of the mould. Everything else is present as you’d expect, including overwing escape markings and the underside rear entry door.

Overwing escape exit markings are nice

Printing quality is a little more variable. The Icelandic flag is poorly done, with the red cross lines meeting the blue edge on the lower border incorrectly. There is also some lazy paintwork on the middle engine, which has an obvious blob of silver paint making the engine rim uneven. Lastly the inside of the engines is left unpainted. It would be much nicer if it were darker here.

Inside of the engine nacelles is too light

There are no problems with the construction of the model. Everything fits together well.

SCORE – 8

CONCLUSION

Overall this is a most welcome model and a solid release from Aeroclassics of an airline the collectorate has been rather starved of. The final score reflects that this isn’t Aeroclassics best mould but nonetheless I have no reservation in adding it or further 727-200s to my collection, and there are still plenty more to be made.

FINAL SCORE – 24

1/400 Review Scoring Chart

3 Comments

  1. Given all of AC’s very welcome attention to Iceland right now, I wonder if we’ll see the Icelandic / Icelandair DC-10-30. AC has been making DC-10’s lately, and this would be a great national-carrier example.

    Jim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.