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Revell Germany 1/144 scale Airbus A400M Atlas

Kit:04859 // Scale:1/144 // Price:$30.95
Revell Germany
Excellent engraved surface detail; options for props, landing gear, and cargo doors
Large sprue attachments on delicate parts, notable the props; decals prone to silvering
Injection-molded, 150 parts, decals
The A400M Atlas, Airbus’ military transport, bridges the gap between the C-17 and C-130. Derived from its earlier 1/72 scale release, Revell Germany’s new 1/144 scale Atlas is impressive. But it shares some challenges with its big brother.

The exquisitely recessed panel lines and full interior reflect the kit’s high level of detail. The kit offers several options, including posable landing gear and cargo doors plus different propellers. The decals provide three marking options: a French test aircraft and two transports, one each from the German and French air forces.  

Some of the 50 easy-to-follow steps won’t be needed, depending on which display options you choose. I followed the guidelines, but deviated in a couple spots to accommodate painting.

The kit calls for 40 grams of ballast, but I installed 7 grams and the nose stayed grounded.

With one exception, the parts fit well and required only a little sanding or filling.

Mating the wings and fuselage was the only problem. I inserted styrene shims to close gaps at the lower wing roots; these areas are tough to reach and the shims reduced the amount of filler I had to use. The joins forward and aft of the wing in the upper fuselage also required filling and sanding.

Follow the instructions’ sequence for main landing gear assembly. Wheels must be glued to the gear struts before part C8 is glued into place; otherwise, they cannot slide onto the axles. (You can probably guess how I know this.)

The delicate props must be handled with care as they are delicate and, unfortunately, large sprue gates on each of the eight blades complicate removal and cleanup. After breaking two blades in short order, I glued the props to their respective hubs to help support the blades.  This worked well and I didn’t detach any more blades. (This was a problem on the 1/72 scale A400M, too.) Pay attention to placement of the props, as they are handed — the two on each wing spin toward each other to reduce torque.

The paint guide is for Revell colors only. I used Tamiya RLM gray (XF-22) as a close match for the main color, then randomly misted on other grays to break up the monochromatic finish. Research revealed the cargo doors to be a darker gray, so I sprayed them medium sea gray. Check references for the natural-metal areas on the engines, because they differ between aircraft.

The decals presented some challenges. Even after two hefty coats of clear, the markings still showed silvering, particularly the walkway stripes. The props’ yellow warning stripes are too small and don’t bend around the rear of the blades as they should. I cut them in half and touched them up with yellow paint. If I were to do this over, I would paint them outright.

Overall, Revell’s kit makes a very nice model of the new Atlas. It measures close in scale and definitely captures the bulky, powerful look of the real aircraft. I spent 43 hours building the kit and would recommend it to experienced modelers who can handle the construction challenges. Even in 1/144 scale, its size and appearance will make an eye-catching addition to any collection.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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