Updated: Aug 24
Hi everyone, in this article I will review the 1:400 NG Models Pan Am L-1011-500 N507PA "Clipper Northern Eagle", May 2023 release. There are 7 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.
In the late sixties, the wide-body jetliner market was born after Boeing started to develop the ultra-high capacity Boeing 747 jumbo jet, which was more than twice as big as any other passenger aircraft in existence. Quickly the other two prominent U.S. commercial aircraft manufacturers, McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed, responded by starting to develop their own jumbo jets: the DC-10 and the L-1011 TriStar respectively.
Development of these wide-body aircraft took place during the early stages of high-by-pass turbofan engines, and long before ETOPs rules were even a thought. As a result, a twin-engine design was not entirely ideal, but four engines, like the 747 had, were unnecessary for the more modest DC-10 and TriStar. The answer was three engines, and this left very few options in terms of engine placement. Thus both aircraft ended up looking very similar with two wing-mounted engines, and another one mounted in the tail area.
Both airplanes entered service in the early seventies but in the end, after a number of events and factors, the DC-10 sold better, while the L-1011 was considered a commercial failure after only 250 units were produced. It was the last airliner developed by Lockheed.
During the first half of the eighties, Pan Am operated a fleet of 12 of the long-range version of the aircraft, the L-1011-500, which sported a shortened fuselage among other aerodynamic improvements over the standard L-1011-1. Deliveries started in 1980 and by 1986 all aircraft had left the fleet. The aircraft that the model in this article represents, N507PA, was named "Clipper Northern Eagle" and it was delivered new to Pan Am in June of 1980. It was then sold to Delta in January 1985. Delta retired the aircraft in 2001, and it has been broken up since.
The exotic L-1011 is a favorite among aviation enthusiasts. Combine it with the livery of an iconic airline and you have a model that will turn heads. Many model manufacturers have produced Pan Am L-1011-500s in 1:400 scale, including NG themselves. It is generally agreed among collectors that the best L-1011-500 mold in 1:400 scale is the NG one, so this second Pan Am TriStar from them is very welcomed. Let's see if it is as stunning as their first one.
1) Accuracy of colors
Unfortunately, I can't take the model out to the airport and place it next to a real Pan Am TriStar. That leaves us with having to use photos (digital photos) to judge the accuracy of colors. Since digital images can vary widely, I will use more than one photo so we can get an idea of what the "right" colors are. My photos of the model were taken with light that was coming through a window in manual mode. RAW to PNG, unedited other than auto-sharp, and resizing.
The blue of the cheatline and tail logo on the model seem to be ever so slightly darker than what we see in the pictures of real subjects. It is worth noting that the blue in Pan Am models made by NG is slightly darker than on most other Pan Am models in my collection, which come from GeminiJets, Dragon Wings, and BlueBox. Only Aeroclassics' recent releases are darker, and Aeroclassics' older releases are on par with NG.
Overall, the model does look good, the slightly darker tone does not jump at me, and it is not evident unless one does a careful analysis.
Score: 9.5/ 10
Airliners.net has a nice selection of pictures of N507PA from different angles. You can see those photos by clicking here. Go ahead and open some of those photos on another window and go back and forth between them and the pictures of the model I have here. I think NG did a very meticulous job with the artwork. The only issue I see worth mentioning is the boldness of the door opening instructions (red text next to the main cabin doors). Those were very discreet in real life as seen here.
3) Logos, titles and stickers
Again, not much to say here, other than the name of the aircraft is too bold in the model compared to the real thing.
4) Other details
The model also excels in level of detail and the accuracy of those details. An impressive job that clearly took a lot of time to refine. All sensors, intakes, exhausts, pitot tubes, static ports, cargo doors and associated opening mechanisms, landing gear doors, and many access panels are accurately depicted as far as I can tell. It is worth mentioning that NG did a great job at avoiding over-detailing by making those details discreet enough.
The only observation is that the model only has comm antennas, but real L-1011s also had two drain masts on the aft lower fuselage. These masts have been accurately replicated in other aircraft in 1:400 scale by other manufacturers so I won't let NG get away with omitting them, especially since they have proved that they have the capability to add them.
5) Paint and printing QC
The printing and paint application is solid for the most part. There is one prominent issue though. Besides the registration, this release was supposed to be different from NG's first Pan Am L-1011 by having a white radome. However, due to the chrome belly extending all the way to the nose tip, the lower half of the radome still looks a bit grey, and it is not supposed to.
Additionally, per a discussion at the Diecast Aircraft Forum, some collectors have identified a potential issue with the color of the electroplated bare metal belly. The issue, however, does not seem to negatively affect the look of the model.
6) Mould QC
The NG L-1011-500 mold has been reviewed by Richard Stretton at Yesterday's Airlines. It is a superb 1:400 mold that was unveiled in 2019, and to this day NG continues to put out solid TriStar-500s.
However, I noticed that the intake lip of the #2 engine is slightly wider than the intake duct. I looked a pictures of, and checked my other, NG L-1011-500s and they do not have this issue.
7) Built QC
My example came with clear signs that the right wing had become detached and reattached by someone (probably the retailer).
I would not normally have included this in a review, but another collector reported an identical issue (the model arrived with a detached right wing) at the Model Airliner Forum, which leads me to think that it could be more than an isolated case.
As always there's room for improvement, but by and large, this is a superb model of an iconic aircraft wearing the livery of an even more iconic airline.
The total score is 64.5 / 7 = 9.2
9.2 / 10
Jorge A. Zajia