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Skyline Models 1/144 scale Boeing 737-400

Kit: No. Sky 144-04a
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Skyline Models, from DACO Products, 32-2-233-25-62,
Price: $23.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 83 parts, decals
Pros: Excellent moldings and detail, accurate shapes, optional winglets, great window and stencil decal sheet
Cons: Must use aftermarket decals of your choice for airline markings; Skyline CityBird decals silvered and would not respond to solvents
Modelers should be happy to hear Skyline Models has released a series of Boeing's baby airliner in 1/144 scale, with -300, -400, and -500 "second generation" versions available. They are not to be confused with Skyline's first attempt from several years ago. These kits are light years ahead of the old releases in terms of detail and finesse. Panel-line engraving is outstanding, the recessed air intakes are sharply defined, and the nose includes petite longitudinal stiffeners.

Skyline Models is a division of DACO Products, famous for its custom decals, but instead of supplying one or two airline markings in the box, the kits in this series come with decals for the windows and dozens of stencils found on any aircraft. You can choose the airline livery, but you'll have to purchase the markings separately.

Skyline has molded cabin window recesses from the inside of the fuselage halves. If you prefer clear windows, you can easily (but tediously) cut these out and fill the openings with Krystal Kleer. If you like using decals for windows, you won't have to fill and sand - the best of both worlds. The cockpit windows are also molded in each fuselage half, or you can cut the top of the cockpit away and use the alternate clear part.

Skyline's well-illustrated instructions start with the landing gear. The struts and wheels have good detail for the scale but needed to have mold-parting lines sanded away. I found the mating surfaces of the fuselage halves to be uneven, but a quick sanding took care of that. I installed the main-gear well from below after the fuselage was set because it was a tight fit and I didn't want it distorting the fuselage seam.

The fuselage has a lot of antenna blades and vents. You'll want to check photos of your chosen aircraft to see which ones apply.

The wings and engines went together well and feature the now-standard seamless intakes. I had to add filler to the wing and stabilizer topside seams to close minor gaps. I left the engines off the wings until after all painting and decaling were complete.

I couldn't find any of DACO's custom CityBird Green paint anywhere, so I used Testors Japanese Army/Navy green instead. Humbrol Brunswick green is another choice. I followed DACO's recommendation of Canadian Voodoo gray and dark gull gray on the wings.

I used the kit's window and stencil decals, and they went on perfectly. The Skyline CityBird decals I chose, however, resisted all of my decal solvents and silvered badly. On the plus side, I was pleased to see that the white CityBird titles were opaque and did not show through any dark green. The kit instructions do a good job of showing where the many stencils are to be applied - set aside some time, because there are a lot of them.

Other than the problems with the aftermarket decals, I am very happy with my 737-400. It's accurate, the molding is outstanding, and with a little work, I can easily add a baby Boeing to my 1/144 scale fleet.

- Chuck Davis


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