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Minicraft Models 1/144 scale American Airlines Boeing 757

Kit: No. 14449
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Minicraft Models, P.O. Box 3577, Torrance, CA 90510, 310-325-8383.
Price: $16
Comments: Injection molded, 49 parts, decals.
Pros: Long-awaited subject, most shapes right, excellent decals, one-piece cockpit windows.
Cons: Thick trailing edges, difficult fit, engines angled up too much.
In 1978, Boeing announced production of a pair of new, highly advanced airliners, the 757 and 767. Both aircraft featured high-tech cockpits, advanced engines, and other significant improvements over then-current airliners.

The cockpits in the two craft were designed to be so similar that crews needed only a single type rating to fly either jet. Boeing's new designs have both been successes, with both aircraft selling well.

While the wide-body 767 also has proven a success for kit makers, its slimmer brother has eluded the modeling public. Not anymore. Minicraft's 757 kit is molded in soft gray plastic, with engraved panel lines, good landing gear detail and beautifully printed American Airlines decals. This issue of the kit has Rolls-Royce turbofan engines.

As on other recent Minicraft airliners, the mating surfaces lack crisp corners, requiring some work with file, sandpaper, and filler. Construction is simple once the edges have been cleaned up. I assembled the fuselage, leaving off the clear molded nose. This allowed me to completely assemble the model, then determine how much weight was needed to hold the nose down, then install the weight before sealing up the nose.

Filler was needed on some uneven seams. The one-piece stabilizers had thick trailing edges, so I sanded them down first with 320-, then 400-, then 600-grit sandpaper. They fit well to the fuselage. The wings also were too thick, but I thinned the trailing edges on the insides of the wing halves. A good fit to the fuselage required filing and filling.

The engines and pylons needed cleanup, too, and I had to adjust the pylon-to-wing joint. Even with that, the engines tilt up too much. Also, the tip of the fin slants up at the back, but that's easily fixed with a file.

I like the separate cockpit clear piece, which allows sanding (it needed only a little) without marring the windows. After this step, the 757 was ready for paint.

I first primed the entire jet with white, then airbrushed Testor Voodoo Grey on the tail, wings, stabilizers, nose, and wing fairing. By the way, the box art and instructions are correct in showing the fin and rudder in gray - the model on the side panels of the box has the tail incorrectly painted natural metal. Testor Aluminum Buffing Metallizer was used for the overall finish.

There is only one decal option in the kit, but it's a beaut. The decals are InvisiClear, and are excellent. The long cheatline stripes were cooperative. The only drawback is that the white is slightly translucent over the gray and natural metal. A word of caution - the stylized eagle logos for the tail are handed - check the instruction sheet for correct placement.

After about 25 hours of work, I had a nice-looking example of Boeing's 757. True, it takes work to make it look sharp, but the shape and adequate detail are there. Minicraft is also issuing the 757 with USAF markings for the C-32 with Pratt & Whitney engines.

- Chuck Davis

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