Minicraft 1/144 Boeing 377 Stratocruiser




 MSRP $12.99


One version: Pan American


Scott Van Aken




It is really hard to add to all the usual stuff I have said over the past year about this aircraft. I have always found it interesting that when one manufacturer brings out a kit that modelers have wanted for many years, all of a sudden we are 'inundated' by other kits of the same thing. One has to wonder what the marketing guys used for a barometer to see what we modelers would buy. For years, we all struggled with the POS kit that Airliners America had foisted on us. Then all of a sudden, there was a quality vacuform in 1/144 then a few years later this kit by Minicraft followed closely by the 1/72 Academy kit. Now as nice as all of these kits are, I can't see most of us building more than one of each. Wonder if anyone will be doing this in 1/48? :o)

Anyway, if you want a history of the 377, then I can recommend reading the opening to the Academy 1/72 377 Preview as it sure beats having to repeat it here!


There is no difference at all in the parts of this kit and the previously issued KC-97G kit. In fact, there are parts missing off the 377 sprues and those have been x'd out on the image above (I used the image from the KC-97G kit rather than rescan the sprues). As nice as the Minicraft effort is, the kit is not really that highly detailed and suffers from toy-like wheels that have no detail in them at all and are too skinny. It also has zero engine detail in the nacelles and the props are close, but no cigar. Fortunately, there are replacements for the props and engines available in Cobra Company's set 44004. What can be done about the wheels I do not know.

As for other detail, there isn't much. There is no wheel well detail and they are not even boxed in. The struts look quite weak, but perhaps they will be strong enough to hold up the kit. You do need to add quite a bit of weight to the nose of this aircraft to keep it on its nose gear. One thing that I like about this kit is that there are no cabin windows. While I'm sure that was just so that they could do a KC-97 with the same fuselage, it makes it much easier. Most airliner modelers would much rather use decals for windows than to mess with clear bits that show no interior! Surface detailing is also not very cleanly done. The wing tips, for example, are rather bulbous and there are large lumps where the holes for the underwing tanks would go that will have to be sanded down.

The instruction sheet is more than adequate for a kit of this type and has 6 easy construction steps. Other than the decals, color for this kit consists of aluminum, white, and black and those items that need painted are called out in the sheet. This kit is in the 'intermediate' PAA scheme with a white upper fuselage and tail. The early aircraft were in overall aluminum. The decal sheet is very well printed and fully in register, which is a big surprise for a Scalemaster sheet. However close inspection shows that it was printed in Mexico by Necomisa, which explains the clarity of the sheet. One thing I noticed on my sheet was that the clear coating on the decals was missing from the very far right part of the sheet. Look closely at yours and if you see a similar problem, you can fix it by coating it with Microscale Decal Film before using it. On the sheet below, it is the area circled in red.

Overall, this looks like a very buildable model. Especially if you get the Cobra Compay nacelles and props to replace the kit ones. Like many of these airliner kits, I have never seen one built. I know that people buy them as they disappear from store shelves with great regularity. I think you will be pleased with the results.

Review kit courtesy of me and my credit card!

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