|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Aviation Traders ATL-98 Carvair was a large piston-engine transport aircraft. It was a Douglas DC-4-based air ferry developed by Freddie Laker's Aviation Traders (Engineering) Limited (ATL), with a capacity of 25 passengers and five cars, loaded at the front.
The Carvair was used by Aer Lingus, BUAF and BAF among others, and was used in Congo-Kinshasa during 1960-1964, under contract to the United Nations. Aircraft for Aer Lingus were quickly convertible between 55 seats and 22 seats with five cars. Some aircraft were pure freighters with only nine seats. One aircraft had 55 high-density seats and room for three cars. BAF were the last operator in Europe of the aircraft, keeping them flying into the 1970s.
British United Carvairs made appearances in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger, seen in the background as James Bond boarding an airplane for Switzerland, and in The Prisoner in the episode "The Chimes of Big Ben", where it is seen loading through the nose, taking off and then landing again.
Of the 21 airframes, eight were destroyed in crashes (one each in Rotterdam, Netherlands 1962; Karachi, Pakistan 1967; Twin Falls, Canada 1968; Le Touquet, France 1971; and four in the USA: Miami, Florida 1969; Venetie, AK 1997; Griffin, Georgia also in 1997; and McGrath, AK in 2007.) Perhaps the best known Carvair crash was the one at Griffin in April 1997, where on its take-off run the (fifth production) Carvair suffered catastrophic engine failure, failed to become properly airborne, and crashed into a vacant Piggly Wiggly supermarket past the airport perimeter, killing both pilots.
Rather than just provide a standard DC-4/C-54, Roden had gone that extra step and given us a quite different, but also quite interesting variation on the theme. Besides, Minicraft seems to have the DC-4 line rather well taken care of.
The majority of the kit is pretty much what you get with their DC-6, though there are differences. Items that look the same are the wings, engines, tailplanes and landing gear. What is new are a new pair of fuselage halves and this includes the new bulged nose gear doors as the area of the old main gear on the ATL-98 was removed to provide for a flat floor. This means that the modeler will need to shorten the nose gear strut and retraction link. Not an issue as Roden has provided full instructions on just how to do that. You also get different props as apparently the ones on the DC-4 are different from the DC-6.
As is the norm with many new airliner kits, there are no window openings aside from the cockpit. This is provided on the decal sheet. Some airliner modelers like this while others want to have actual window openings. From a manufacturer's point of view, decals are a more viable option as often the window arrangements were not the same with every airline.
This is not a complex kit so the instructions are pretty basic and consist of nie well drawn construction steps. Nose weight will be needed for this, but there is a LOT of space in which to place it! Markings are for one of the main operators of the type, British Air Ferries. The decal sheet provides the fuselage striping and the nose anti glare panel as well as registration. The lower surface dark blue will need to be painted. A full color markings guide is included with Model Master paint references. I know that Roden decals have been an issue in the past and I do hope these are an improvement over earlier releases. Perhaps using very hot water will be useful. I would think that now that a kit is available, some of the aftermarket folks, like Draw Decals would come to the rescue with other liveries.
In all, this makes for a very interesting aircraft that airliner fans will definitely want to add to their collection. I never thought I would see this one being kitted in any scale and it is most welcome.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. You can find this one at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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