A huge “thanks!” to Alain at Dragon for providing IPMS/USA this kit. I was under the impression this would be a review of one of their famous 1/400 prebuild die-cast models… WRONG! This was a full-fledged build! This is the first of their new series of model aircraft which are to be built, not pre-made with Tampo markings…
Nobody does this scale like Dragon… Impressive off the bat; on to the model…
First: This is not just one model in a box; there are two A330’s in there! And markings for two, in this case “Air China”. Very colorful, and complex. Try painting that by hand, those of you who brag at being brush painters! In the box are two aircraft, one in-flight stand, and a set of landing gear. Now: if you have not experienced true microscopic modeling, try one of these kits. And let me warn you up front, if you do it right this kit is a weekend build, BUT: I have learned from experience that even smaller models take almost as much time to build and paint as a full-size 1/48 or 1/72 model. And bust out the 2080 Blue low-tak 3-M ® tape… you’ll need it!
The construction was easy; two fuselage halves, clean up the weld seam down the middle, and then install the wings and lower fuselage fairings. Tail section next, then engines. All are very detailed; there are even fans in the intakes. No filler required, excellent engineering and fit. The decision point is which model you want to make with gear down; red or blue markings.
The landing gear is delicate, and has separate black wheels. I have some of the die-cast models in my collection, and there are two sizes of wheels, smaller and larger. Be aware when assembling the gear.
I opted for a full “in-flight” model; no gear, and light sanding filled in the gear door edges. My recommendation is paint the wings FIRST, light gray, then mask. This includes the engine struts. I did not, and spent a lot of time masking the rest of the jet for the ensuing wing painting. Light Ghost Gray is not the right color, and I did not have a good reference, so plan on another color. Probably Light gull gray is more appropriate. You will need to have gold and bright red, or blue (or both if building both kits). For finishing, paint the aircraft overall primer white, with lacquer gloss white left to harden for a week before applying tape and markings.
I intended to do a gold-red version, because it looked better to me. I masked and painted the gold lower section under the nose, and then painted the red under the tail. DECAL TIME!
Well, there was no joy in Mudville. Follow my advice: The side markings, windows, and “swoops” all are on one decal. DO NOT try to apply it as one decal, because it will fold up and stick to itself, and no amount of re-soaking will fix it. It’s delicate! Cut them into about five sections, and apply each separately, using the wing and Mk I eyeball for alignment. That is how I ended up with a blue on one side, red on the other model. Guess I’ll have to just convert the other into a KC-45 “What if” tanker, because the only remaining decal is for the cockpit. Be forewarned! My fault, not the decal. Nothing like 45 years of overconfidence to almost mess up a buil