|KIT:||Minicraft 1/144 DC-8-71|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The DC-8 was Douglas' first successful commercial jetliner. Developed to compete with the Boeing 707, the DC-8 was a bit behind the Boeing version, didn't sell quite as well, but has lasted longer and was stretched a great deal more than the Boeing jet. While you'll find very few 707s still in the air, it is estimated that nearly half of the DC-8 production is still flying. Most of these are with cargo lines, and many of them have been upgraded with more efficient turbofan engines. However, the planes are still economical to operate and will be plying the skies for many years on.
Minicraft's long awaited kit comes in a rather large box in which you will find two large and one small sprue of white plastic along with a smaller clear sprue. Not exactly what one would expect for $40 as there aren't a ton of parts (well, there are not a ton of parts on ANY 1/144 airliner kit). The white plastic is very nicely molded with engraved panel lines. The cockpit section is one piece of clear plastic, but to be honest, just about everyone will use the decal as there isn't any real cockpit framework detail. Since doing clear cockpit windows is just about impossible, I wonder why the cockpit wasn't molded with the fuselage halves. Would have saved filling the inevitable seam.
I should mention that despite all the hooplah about 'CAD-CAM tooling', Minicraft wasn't able to get rid of sink marks. There are several on the underside of the wing around the wheel wells and on one of my fuselage halves on the lower wing root. Filling these will destroy some of the detailing and require rescribing when done.
Anyway, it is quite obvious from the fuselage that there are going to be a whole raft of DC-8s. There has been designed into it several areas where one would cut out a section to make the shorter aircraft. Each of these has been provided with a groove where you'd make the cut and then there is a small bulkhead so that you'd have a pair of rather large gluing areas. Each cutting area also has an alignment pin. An interesting concept and while I'd much rather have a whole shorter fuselage, it seems this is the route that Minicraft is taking for its DC-8 Series.
The kit also has two nose cones and two wing tips, though you only use one of each with this particular boxing. The engines are the large CFM-56 turbofans as used on the KC-135R and others. I'll assume that the smaller turbofans and the earlier turbojets will be included in later boxings. I really like that the intakes of these engines are a single part so there will not be an intake seam left over to try to fill. The landing gear are surprisingly well detailed and have some very fragile looking parts, but the main gear legs are quite sturdy.
Instructions are well drawn and nothing fancy. It has a history, parts guide and nine well-drawn construction steps. Color information is generic and provided for each step as needed. Markings are for a Delta Airlines plane as shown on the box top. The decals are well printed by Cartograf of Italy and provide registrations for thirteen different aircraft. They are also quite long and don't fit on my scanner. Somehow, my decals had gotten stuck to the instructions in one spot so I have to assume that this spot had become wet in some way. Though the Delta scheme is quite fetching, it will be interesting to see how quickly the aftermarket crowd start producing for this one. I know I'd like to have a nice Green and White 'Evergreen' cargo hauler on my shelves....
I'm sure that this one will sell well. Previously, all one had were a pair of Revell DC-8s in this scale and both were becoming extremely hard to find. I still have a stretched version in ASA markings that I may drag out and build. What may put some off is the price tag. I must confess that I thought it would have been better at less, but with the cost of doing kits nowadays, perhaps this is becoming the norm. Regardless, it is a super looking kit and it will be interesting to see how it builds.
You can thank a Hobby Lobby half off sale for this one.
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