Revell 1/72 Airbus A400M ‘Atlas’

It seems astonishing that a project which began back in 1982 to produce a turboprop-powered transport aircraft capable of replacing the C-160 Transall and C-130 Hercules in one go (the latter in particular being a big ask!) was destined not to enter service until 2014! A group comprising Aerospatiale, British Aerospace, Lockheed and Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) was formed and called the Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) while the aircraft was called the Airbus A400M Atlas. By 1989, Lockheed, who to many appeared to be the odd one out in this group, threw in the towel and focussed on making the Hercules even better while FIMA took on more members in the shape of Alenia and CASA and re-branded itself as Euroflag. Finding a suitable turboprop powerful enough caused further delays until Pratt & Whitney Canada and Europrop International stepped up to the plate only for politics to intervene forcing a further delay to 2003 when the TP400-D6 unit was finally settled upon. The group re-shaped again and by this time the main players were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK, now called the catchy Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR).  Italy would later withdraw from this group and South Africa would replace them.

   While described as a tactical aircraft with strategic capability, the A400M still does not compete with the C-130 with regard to rough landing strip operations and would for many, sit firmly in the strategic camp rather than tactical. That said, since making its maiden flight on December 11, 2009, the A400M has proved to be a good performer and the order book is healthy. For the RAF, 22 will eventually be on strength while its C-130 fleet will still maintained. It reminds me of a 21st Century version of the Short Belfast which did not quite fit into the role the manufacturers intended but was still a good aircraft in its own right.

So this Revell kit is a rebox of 2011 & 2015 originals which only appears to have new artwork on the box and some new decals. The real aircraft is 148ft long and has a wingspan of 139ft 1in, so as you can imagine this is a seriously big kit in 1/72. That said, it is really not a very difficult kit to build and its ‘Level 5’ status can only be justified because of its physical size and a build that spreads itself across 60 stages; none of them particularly taxing. While the interiors of military transport aircraft are not the most interesting, detail within this kit is minimal and even the flight deck is lacking a little. What makes this kit to me is its shear presence; once complete this is an impressive aircraft and the only real problem is finding some shelf space to display it. If it could be displayed airborne with those big Hamilton Sundstrand propeller’s turning, I think it would be even more impressive rather than in static pose.

Finishing options are for an aircraft serving with LTG 62, German Air Force at Wunstorf and ET 1/61, French Air Force based at Olerans-Bricy. The new decal sheet is very busy and combined with the colour guides at the rear of the A4 instruction booklet, takes up four pages of annotated positions to locate them in the correct place. There is also a masking template for the walkway between the two upper fuselage escape hatches. Prepare yourself for a big box of plastic and an even bigger finished article.  

Length 590mm; Wingspan 644mm

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Product: Construction kit

Ref: 03929

Scale: 1/72

Parts: 212

Price: £49.49 (e-models – RRP £36.99)

Manufacturer: Revell