Herpa are a major player in 1/500 scale but not much more than an oddity in 1/400. They release a tiny number of models each year but at least make some interesting subjects. Slowly Bombardier’s CSeries is getting into airline service after many setbacks, mostly not the fault of Bombardier or the airframe itself. So the combination of a Herpa CSeries model in 1/400 is intriguing. How have they done?
THE REAL THING
Bombardier launched the CSeries in July 2008, although its gestation goes back at least a decade earlier. Depending on your viewpoint they have been brave or foolish (or possibly both) to try and take on the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing and attempt to break into the big jet arena. The CSeries is currently being offered in two versions the CS100 and larger CS300. The CS100 is 35 metres long and can seat between 108-133 passengers making it longer and larger than a Boeing 737-200 and a direct competitor to the very largest E-Jet Embraer offer (the E195). The CS300 pushes Bombardier into direct competition with the Boeing 737-700 and Airbus A319, but being a clean sheet design really ought to have a decided advantage over these shortened versions of heavier aircraft.
Nonetheless Bombardier has found it very difficult to sell its CSeries in practice. Airbus and Boeing have massive advantages as the incumbents and can offer predatory pricing to customers (as Boeing was believed to have done with United to get it to order more 73Gs). Then of course there is the commonality argument for existing Airbus and Boeing customers with their larger variant 737 and A320 fleets. There have also been delays with the CSeries programme (particularly related to the PW1500 engines) and this combination of factors has taken Bombardier nearly to the wall.
Therefore it was a proud day, on June 29, 2016, when launch customer Swiss Global Airlines (a lower cost subsidiary of Swiss International – both owned by Lufthansa Group) took delivery of their first CS100 – HB-JBA. Revenue service began on July 15, between Zurich and Paris and the airline has advertised the unique capabilities of the type heavily – especially its excellent environmental standards. By November Swiss was reporting contentment with the type’s dispatch reliability and performance, but at the time it still only had 3 aircraft into service. By April 2017 6 of the total of 10 had been delivered and last year provided a boost to the CSeries in general with 117 orders.
If Bombardier can get more aircraft into service proving their worth then they should hopefully be able to break further into the lower end of the market, where the CSeries seems like a more than able competitor to the 737-MAX7 and A319NEO.
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 score of 30.
It is excellent to see a mould being made for new aircraft types, especially so when the type has not got a huge order backlog, which would confirm a long run of models that could be made. Herpa have a history of producing these more unusual moulds in 1/400 (think TU-144, AN-124) and ironically it rather fits with them producing such a tiny number of 1/400 models in general. I should point out that so far of the 4 CS100s produced in 1/400 two have been made by Herpa and two by JC Wings and the mould looks *almost* the same. So is this a Herpa mould or a JC Wings mould? Probably the latter’s. However I can’t give out praise if the mould isn’t any good so let’s see if it is.
Let me start from the rear and move forwards. The CSeries has a rather long 777-style tailcone giving the back of the aircraft a rather unique look for a plane of this size. This mould has the proportions correct, however the real thing has a rather screwdriver style cone and the mould here is too pointy. The tail is a good shape but also has a noticeable lip at the front fuselage join whereas the real thing has a very smooth curve. The rest of the rear fuselage and also the wings look fine as do the engine pylons and engines themselves. That is except for one feature – the winglets, however that appears to be a quality issue and not a feature of the mould so I’ll discuss that in the quality section.
Another feature of the CS100 is the clear line where the wing join bulge meets the fuselage. This is somewhat ironic as many cradle type 1/400 moulds have inadvertently had this feature for years and only now everyone is using separate wing moulds has it gone away. The bulge is there correctly on this model but it is not outlined. Perhaps this is really a print issue rather than a mould one. Regardless it’s incorrect.
The nose of the CS100 is also quite unique, having almost no change of angle from the cockpit to the radome. I think Herpa have done an ok job on the top line, though maybe the nose is slightly too long, however they’ve made a mess of the bottom. The real thing has a gentle curve from about the front gear to the tip. The mould here has a flat line to the beginning of the cockpit and then steeply curves up. It is noticeably incorrect.
This brings me to another bugbear – the landing gear. It’s awful. Aeroclassics has shown that it is possible to create beautifully detailed gear legs and small tyres for moulds like their CV-440 for years – yet this new mould has chunky undetailed legs and the nosegear is oversized. It’s just a bit lazy really, plus the nosegear is too short giving the plane a nosedown look it doesn’t have in real life.
The last point is the aerials. The first Herpa model didn’t have any but all the other three have. The JC Wings releases actually have four but this model has just three. Not sure why that is – perhaps this isn’t the same mould as the JC Wings one after all?
Hmm so this is one of those moulds that looks good from distance but has actually quite a few annoying inaccuracies – the tailcone, tail join, bulge outline, underside of the nose and the whole undercarriage. None of these are terminal but there’s plenty of room for improvement especially at the nose and nosegear.
SCORE – 7
PAINT & LIVERY
Swiss has always had a boring livery, inferior to all the earlier Swissair schemes, but it did have a few distinctive points – mainly the multi-lingual titles after the main Swiss and the engine logos. That was obviously considered far too outrageous in Zurich however as in 2012 they ‘refreshed’ the scheme by making the titles larger and getting rid of everything else except the tail paint. As an aside do they really have to try and distinguish themselves from their predecessor by not painting the entire fin red? It’d look better if it were all one colour. Anyway since this is not far from the most simple livery in existence (alongside JAL and China Eastern) surely it is hard to get wrong?
Herpa have got it somewhat right, which given its simplicity is damning with faint praise I admit. The red is red, the white is white and the reg is black. The Star Alliance logo is in the correct place and the reg is partly reshown on the nosegear doors. Job done you’d have thought. But no Herpa have made a mistake. The position of the SWISS titles on the port side is wrong by an entire window. There should not be a window outside the titles ahead of them, but after them – d’oh. They get it correct on the starboard side.
SCORE – 7
PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL
There is a lot of detail that can be added to a model nowadays and in places the printing on this Herpa is exquisite. Places like the ‘cut here’ roof markings, star alliance logo and door markings. Then there are places where the designer hasn’t been paying attention. I’ve already pointed out the obvious black line around the wing join bulge is missing, but so is almost all wing top detailing. Plus the overwing escape markings are too wide and there is a bit of corroguard on the wing leading edge the plane doesn’t have.
Are the cockpit windows too small also – I think they probably are. The wingtip lights and those found just under the front of the wings are just crude paint splodges and don’t look anything like the items they are supposed to represent. The odd red ones at the wing ends aren’t even in the same place on each wing. Lastly the registration on the starboard side rear is not level and the A is obviously lower than the H.
Moving onto the quality side of things and initially everything looks awesome. There are no tyre tabs, no fingerprints, no scuffs and everything is attached well. That is until you notice the winglets. Now call me old fashioned but if you’re going to put winglets on an aeroplane please make them both the same height! I am sure Bombardier didn’t make this mistake but on my model Herpa have. The starboard winglet is clearly at least a millimetre too short and possibly also a different shape. You can clearly see that the swiss logo colourband is almost at the wingtip top on that side whereas on the port it is far from it – this isn’t a printing issue however. It doesn’t look like the model has been damaged and there are no paint defects so is the mould just assymetrical? Looking at photos on DiMA no it is not, which means this is either a manufacturing defect or a bit of touched up damage. Either way, it is shoddy and now I see it every time I look at the model.
I should also point out the seam line on the port side engine – not there on the starboard one. Why is it there? The printing research on this model leaves quite a bit to be desired and as for the winglets – that is very poor.
SCORE – 5
I started out really liking this release but now I feel that Herpa have made a real mess of it, despite it having the simplicity of the Swiss scheme on it. Hopefully the winglet issue is not across the entire run but even so the printing is lazy and the mould itself far from perfect. It still maybe worth having in your collection due to its uniqueness but be under no illusion that Herpa could, and should, have done much better here.
I should add as an aside that Herpa do include a nice little stand with the model. Bravo for that but it’s no excuse for doing a poor job on the main attraction.
FINAL SCORE – 19/30