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Minicraft Models 1/144 scale Boeing 737-300

Kit: No. 14446
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Minicraft Models Inc., P.O. Box 3577, Torrance, CA 90510, phone 310-325-8383
Price: $12
Comments: Injection molded, 42 parts, decals.

Considering it is still in production, Boeing's 737 series of medium-range jetliners is apt to become the most-produced airliner in history. Its longevity can be credited to its adaptability and new, powerful yet quiet CFM56 turbofan engines. Minicraft's new-generation 737-300 answers many airline modelers' prayers.

The kit features fine scribed lines on the flying surfaces, but the fuselage detail includes only doors and hatches. No windows are indicated in the cabin but are provided on the decal sheet. A large, clear cockpit cover is provided, though, so attaching and blending it in won't mar the windows.

American Airlines briefly employed 737-300s when it acquired a few from Air California in the mid-1980s, so it's strange that one of them is the subject of the decal sheet. (Aftermarket decal companies are already preparing a wide variety of liveries for this kit.) The kit decals are beautifully printed, but the black windows and their dark gray outlines nearly disappear on the dark blue cheat line.

There were no tricks to assembly, but you may want to box in the main gear well - it's open into the fuselage. Most of the assembly seams needed a little filling and sanding. The fit of the main wheel opening (part No. 35) is poor. I added a couple of small fishing sinkers with 5-minute epoxy to weigh down the nose. The clear piece fits well, but still needs a touch of filler and sanding to blend it perfectly into the fuselage. The wings and stabilizers fit well enough that I decided to paint them separately and add them later.

The fit of the engine pod halves was poor, especially on the bottoms. The engine pylons fit well to the wings, but the separate top fairings fit clumsily to the pylons. I attached the fairings to the pylons and filled the joints before painting and attaching them to the wings. This made installing the engines more difficult, but looked better.

I airbrushed all of the subassemblies with Testor Model Master Canadian Voodoo gray - this doubled as a primer and the final color on most of the model. Over this, I airbrushed a couple of coats of Future floor polish, and when it had set, I polished the model to a high gloss. The natural-metal areas (fuselage and some wing and engine panels) were painted with SnJ Spray Metal.

The decals responded well to Micro Sol, but the fuselage stripes need a lot of work to fit the nose's complex curves. The white escape-route panels for the wings are translucent and show the color changes beneath them.

Final assembly included adding the wings, stabilizers, and landing gear. The wing tabs interlock inside the fuselage and getting them straight takes a little effort. The gear doors are too thick for the scale.

I spent about 22 hours on my 737, average for an airliner of this size. Most of the time was spent in surface preparation and painting. My model measures almost exactly to the specifications I downloaded from Boeing's web page, but I couldn't find pictures of an American Airlines example to check the markings.

Overall, it's a fine model. If you have experience with gloss paint and natural-metal finishes, you'll have few problems with this kit.

- John Plzak

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