Zvezda 1/144 Airbus A.320
|DECALS:||Two similar livery options with several registrations|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Airbus A320 family consists of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger jet airliners manufactured by Airbus. The family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, and the ACJ business jet. The A320s are also named A320ceo (current engine option) after the introduction of the A320neo. Final assembly of the family in Europe takes place in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany. Starting in 2009, a plant in Tianjin, China, has also been producing aircraft for Chinese airlines. In April 2013, Airbus started construction of a new production facility for the A319, A320, and A321 variants in Mobile, Alabama. The aircraft family can accommodate up to 220 passengers and has a range of 3,100 to 12,000 km (1,700 to 6,500 nmi), depending on model.
The first member of the A320 family—the A320—was launched in March 1984, first flew on 22 February 1987, and was first delivered in 1988. The family was soon extended to include the A321 (first delivered 1994), the A319 (1996), and the A318 (2003). The A320 family pioneered the use of digital fly-by-wire flight control systems, as well as side-stick controls, in commercial aircraft. There has been a continuous improvement process since introduction.
In December 2010, Airbus officially launched the new generation of the A320 family with the A320neo "New Engine Option". The new generation offers a choice of the CFM International LEAP-X or Pratt & Whitney PW1000G, combined with airframe improvements and the addition of winglets, named Sharklets by Airbus. The aircraft will deliver fuel savings of up to 15%. Virgin America will be the launch customer for the aircraft in spring of 2016. As of December 2011, a total of 1,196 A320neo family aircraft have been ordered by 21 airlines making it the fastest ever selling commercial aircraft.
As of July 2013, a total of 5,677 Airbus A320 family aircraft have been delivered, of which 5,481 are in service. In addition, another 4,135 airliners are on firm order. It ranked as the world's fastest-selling jet airliner family according to records from 2005 to 2007, and as the best-selling single-generation aircraft programme. The A320 family has proved popular with airlines including low-cost carriers such as EasyJet who purchased A319s, and A320s, to replace its Boeing 737 fleet. The aircraft family competes directly with the Boeing 737, 717, 757 and the McDonnell Douglas MD-80.
After the disappointment of the flash encrusted Revell kit, I thought I'd order the Zvezda version. This kit is at least a model generation newer, with a 2016 date on the box. I get the feeling that the only reason they kitted this is that Aeroflot has several of them in service. However, I am glad they did. The A.320 is not a huge aircraft so fits comfortably on display shelves. It is a bit bigger than a 737 and there are lots of aftermarket livery options out there.
For the nuts and bolts, you get three large grey sprues, a clear sprue with windows and a display stand. Zvezda is one of the few kit makers that includes this neat option and many of us who like to build airliners are glad it is included so we can do a wheels up build.
There is a cockpit with a pair of seats, instrument panel and rear bulkheads, though I'm not really sure how much one can see. To the bottom of this one attaches the nose gear well. Windows are in strips and attach from the inside. Those who want to keep the windows clear may want to prepaint the fuselage halves first. Another neat option is that one can have the forward passenger door open. For this purpose there is a bit of interior that can be painted up. This is on the cockpit floor section. Unless I missed it, there is no indication of how much nose weight to use for the gear down option. I'd say 15 grams would do it, perhaps a bit more as there isn't much room in the nose so it will have to be installed under the floor or behind the cockpit assembly.
Wings have separate slats. Now there are two sets of slats and two sets of flap actuators. This is so that you can model them lowered when placing the model on the stand with the gear down. In this case, it would be to simulate landing with everything hung out. You also get two different sets of engines, though this boxing only uses the CFM ones, it is nice to have the P&W available if using aftermarket markings. The Revell kit offers this as well. Landing gear is nicely done and of course, you have additional doors if you want to do wheels up.
Instructions are nicely drawn and while not exactly a font of information, are more than adequate. You have colors provided in generic and Humbrol references. The decal sheet is nicely done and includes all the markings needed as well as additional registrations. You will have to paint all the blue bits, but really, one expects this when doing airliners.
Overall it is a very nice looking kit. It is surely going to be less hassle to build than the now 'long in the tooth' Revell kit, which has seen far too many pressings. The inclusion of the open door, full cockpit, and extended flaps and slats makes it an easy choice for most modelers. Zvezda also does a 321 so hopefully we will see a 319.
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