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A forgotten mould? 1/400 Retro Models TU-104

Updated: Sep 20, 2023


If there is one mould that in my opinion doesn't get the attention it deserves, it's the 1/400 Retro Models TU-104. For those who don't know or forgot: Retro Models is run by Kamran, who is also a member on the DAC forum. He releases 1/200 models every now and then via the Inflight200 factory and also owns a very unique 400 scale mould: the Tupolev TU-104. It took quite some time to get it on the market, but after a lot of effort and dedication, the first model was released in the CSA Czech Airlines scheme. Later we also saw the Aeroflot delivery scheme and the Alitalia/CSA hybrid, of which the latter will be reviewed later in this article. The mould is excellent and I highly recommend everyone to get at least one of the releases, plenty are still available for retailprice. The Inflight factory didn't want to make less than 700 pieces, which nowadays is a lot for a 400 scale model and explains why there are still many offered on eBay. More releases are planned, but it can take quite some time before we see those being made. Kamran is looking for another factory that allows smaller batches, meaning that future releases will sell out much faster than the existing releases.


Background information

This aircraft, registred OK-NDF entered service in 1963 and retired from passenger service in 1974. Afterwards it was used in a movie from 1975, named "Cirkus v cirkuse". One half was painted into the Alitalia livery in an attempt to mimic a DC-8, which was too expensive to rent. As this was a Czech/Soviet movie, a TU-104A from CSA Czech Airlines was used. This aircraft is currently in static display in a museum near Pilsen, Czech Republic, wearing the blue CSA scheme.


Possible future releases

Here are some liveries that can be done with the TU-104 mould for future releases:


1) Aeroflot in the late 80's / early 90's livery.

Source: Fredy Hader - http://www.airlines-airliners.de/airliners/tu104/tu104.htm

2) Aeroflot 1950's scheme with lightblue / silver colors

Source: Lars Söderström - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4460525

3) CSA Czech Airlines with thin red line going through the windows

Source: Unknown photographer - https://aviadejavu.ru/Site/Arts/Art57373.htm#en

4) Another CSA scheme, but with blue colors instead of red.

Source: Peter Keating - https://aviadejavu.ru/Site/Arts/Art57373.htm#en

5) This orange experimental Aeroflot scheme СССР-42382. The registration CCCP-42362 of the model kit most likely never wore the livery. The real aircraft was repainted to the standard Aeroflot scheme around 1966.


Review

Now let's continue with the review. There are 6 parts that will be given between 1 and 10 points, 1 being the lowest and 10 being perfect. In the end the average of these scores will be the final score.


Accuracy of colors

Source: Pinterest, https://pinterest.com/pin/65794844549677245/

Because there are no pictures of the real aircraft with good lighting conditions and it was meant to replicate a DC-8, I will use the above picture to judge the Alitalia colors.

The dark green and red color seems accurate. The belly, wings and horizontal stabilizers are silver, but the belly is a more clean silver. On some pictures of TU-104's there seem to be a slight difference aswell, so I guess this was done on purpose.

The CSA livery looks very good. The red colors, silver tail, Czech flags and black antiglare panel all look like they should. In pictures of a regular CSA TU-104 the wingtips look more red than orange, but in pictures of the Alitalia hybrid it's clearly orange.


Score: 10 / 10


Livery

Source: Petr Popelar, https://www.airliners.net/photo/Alitalia-CSA-Ceskoslovenske-Aerolinie/Tupolev-Tu-104A/956485

The Alitalia livery looks very good. Even the tiny amount of white between the silver belly and dark green at the front is present. The only minor flaw I could find is that the dark green on the vertical stabilizer is too close to the edge.

The CSA livery is also executed well. The red cheatline is at the correct height and the very thin white cheatline underneath the red one is also clearly visible. The other red elements at the front of the aircraft are also very nicely done, no comments there. On the real aircraft there is more space between the wingjoint and the red cheatline, but I'm quite sure this is because of the mould and thus I won't count it as a flaw in the livery. At the rear the red cheatline appears to go up just a little too soon, meaning it touches the horizontal stabilizer on the underside, which on the real aircraft it doesn't by a noticable margin.


Score: 9,5 / 10


Logos, titles and stickers

Starting again with the Alitalia side, the titles are placed correctly and the font is nearly perfect. I couldn't find a picture that clearly shows the registration and 'DC-8-62' text, so I will assume it's done correctly.

The CSA titles are pretty much spot on and are positioned almost perfectly. If I had to be super precise, they should move about a milimeter to the right, but it's really not enough to affect the score. The Czech flag on the tail is also placed well, but the registration is just a little too low. It has the red TU-104 titles underneath the cockpit windows, a great detail.

Score: 9,5 / 10


Other details

The model has 16 windows on the Alitalia side and 21 on the CSA side. Also three on top above the Alitalia titles. The rear two windows on the Alitalia side should be slightly lower but all others, including the emergency exit markings, are well placed. Impressive considering how unusual the windows were positioned on the TU-104A. The cockpit windows are also good. The diagonal lines (raingutters) above the emergency exits are missing though, they can be seen here: https://www.airhistory.net/photos/0220126.jpg


I think the nosecone should be stretched towards the cockpit just a little bit, but we are again speaking of differences of a milimeter. Apart from that it's well done.

Source: Petr Popelar, https://www.airliners.net/photo/Alitalia-CSA-Ceskoslovenske-Aerolinie/Tupolev-Tu-104A/956485

First I thought the wheels were incorrect and that the rims should be grey, but on many pictures of the aircraft in service they actually look black. On static display they are clearly grey though, so I'm not entirely sure which one is correct for it's time wearing the Alitalia scheme.


Score: 9 / 10


Paint and printing QC


I found one issue with the paint, which is in the dark green color of Alitalia. It was not printed in one smooth movement as there is a small overlapping area which is darker. But apart from that there is nothing noticable. The printing is also very good, even the very tiny TU-104A titles underneath the cockpit windows are recognizable.


Score: 9,5 / 10


Mould QC

There are two minor issues: the nosegear points a little to the left and both main landing gear are not aligned so well with the geardoors. Apart from that there is nothing to comment on.


Score: 9 / 10


Conclusion

The quality of this model should be the standard of all 1/400 models. The accuracy of the livery and other details are far above my expectations and gets a well deserved score of 9,4 out of 10. Kamran and his team clearly spent a lot of time to get everything as accurate as possible and it really paid off. I hope other manufacturers are taking notes as too often there are issues that shouldn't be on a 50-60€/$ model. If someday we see another Aeroflot livery, I will make a review on it to see if they managed to keep up the quality.



- Mark

Retrohangar Diecast on Instagram

Mark22 on MAF, 400SH, DAC and DIMA

Want to collaborate or let me review your product? Send me a message via the channels mentioned above!

All pictures are mine (unless stated otherwise) and may not be copied without my permission!


Image sources:

1) Fredy Hader - http://www.airlines-airliners.de/airliners/tu104/tu104.htm

2) Lars Söderström - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4460525

3) Unknown photographer - https://aviadejavu.ru/Site/Arts/Art57373.htm#en

4) Peter Keating - https://aviadejavu.ru/Site/Arts/Art57373.htm#en

5) https://www.modellversium.de/galerie/18-flugzeuge-zivil/12643-tupolev-tu-104a.html

6) Unknown photographer - https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/65794844549677245/

7) Petr Popelar - https://www.airliners.net/photo/Alitalia-CSA-Ceskoslovenske-Aerolinie/Tupolev-Tu-104A/956485



3 comments

3 Comments


Jorge A. Zajia
Jorge A. Zajia
Aug 26, 2023

Very nice Mark. I tried to look for the movie where the aircraft was supposed to be used, but apparently, Alitalia was not on board with the idea and they ended up using an Aeroflot bird instead. Here is a discussion about it. I have considered getting this model, it is very interesting. Kamran has an account here as he has commented on other articles.

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Jorge A. Zajia
Jorge A. Zajia
Aug 26, 2023
Replying to

Very nice! I thought that could be the case. Thanks Mark!

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