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BPK 1/72 scale Boeing 737-200

Kit:7202 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$106
BPK (Big Planes Kits)
Detailed landing gear; masks for the windscreen, cabin windows, and medium blue area on the aft fuselage; optional parts for gravel kit
Fit issues; awkward setup for clear passenger windows; fragile decals
Injection-molded, 254 parts (66 photoetched metal, 6 vinyl, 4 resin, 2 brass sheets)
BPK’s Pratt & Whitney JT8D enignes have good detail front and back, including fans and intake sleeves. The protrusion under the pod is a vortex dissipator to keep debris out of the engine.

Injection-molded models of 1/72 scale airliners are rare, so BPK’s new 737-200 releases are welcome additions indeed.

BPK’s model is more accurate and better detailed than the old ’60s-era Aurora and Monogram kits. 

It’s a big kit, mostly in light gray plastic but with resin, vinyl, sheet brass, and lots of photoetched metal. Decals are for one aircraft: a Canadian North airliner with an attractive blue and white scheme and a polar bear logo on the tail. Vinyl masks are provided for the windscreen, passenger windows, and for separating the blue and white sections on the aft fuselage. 

This particular kit is the combination freight/passenger version of Boeing’s 737, with gravel-protection additions for operating from remote airports in Canada — something a little different.

I’ll state it upfront: This is a kit for an experienced modeler who wants the challenge of a limited-run kitmodel with issues often inherent in that genre (such as the absence of locating pins). Most pieces will require some fiddling for fit and alignment. 

Instructions take a logical sequence to complete the build, but a few steps need extra attention. Cockpit detail is adequate; I sealed the rear bulkhead’s door opening to keep sanding dust off the inside of the windscreen, although not much detail is visible when everything is in place. Passenger windows come in the form of two long, rectangular, clear strips with the windows engraved. You have to remove part of each fuselage half, plainly marked, to install these strips. In hindsight, it would be best to leave a lip to support the clear pieces, making it easier to blend them into the fuselage. Tabs along the longitudinal fuselage seam and between the nose section and fuselage help alignment. To make this joint stronger, I flooded the inside of the seam with 5-minute epoxy.

After installing the main gear-well assembly in the lower fuselage, I added the wings. Two spars extend from the wheel wells, but I had to trim these quite a bit to match dihedral on both wings. The lower surface of the wings didn’t quite mate with the fuselage; lots of filler was needed for a smooth transition. The engines went together relatively quickly, though I couldn’t get the brass sheets rolled into the proper shape for the exhausts (I used exhausts from my spares). There’s space behind the compressor blades to add ballast, supplementing that already in the nose.

While nicely detailed, the landing gear did not fit into the attachment spaces provided in the wings nor in the nose well. For the main gear, I opened its locating holes in the wings so I could angle the bases of the gear in and twist them into place. After getting them straight with shims under the retraction arms, I glued them with 5-minute epoxy. I filed two grooves into the fuselage to accept the Y-shaped nose-gear strut; the slots are hidden by the gear doors. Gear assembly instructions are vague, but pictures in Boeing 737 at the Gate, by Robert Tidwell (Squadron Signal, ISBN 0-89747-651-4) were very helpful, particularly with the gravel FOD plate behind the nose gear. 

With all the sanding and filling needed, the surface detail suffers; I spent a lot of time rescribing the main panel lines.

I sprayed the model with Tamiya’s Fine Surface Primer (white) for the base color.

Color callouts are for Gunze Sangyo paints, but I found H25 to be too light and used H15 bright blue instead. The vinyl masks for the fuselage presented problems: They didn’t exactly match the shape of the decals and they left residue which was difficult to remove. (The residue might have stuck because of the primer.) I suggest photocopying the blue decal and transferring that to your favorite masking medium.

The decals were a challenge, too. The smaller ones worked fine, but the large, blue-and-yellow wave did not. It was extremely fragile and fractured as I positioned it around the compound curves of the rear fuselage and matched the demarcation line of the mask. I eventually grafted sections from the kit’s spare decal. It looks acceptable, but I wish it were better. Overspraying the decal sheet with clear decal film might alleviate this problem. 

Given the difficulties mentioned above, I spent about 90 hours on BPK’s B737-200. It has the potential to be a real showstopper, but only with large doses of patience, time, and skill. I would recommend it to only the more-experienced modeler. If you are up to the challenge, look to this and BPK’s other 737s (including the T-43A). 

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2014 FineScale Modeler.

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