Detail & Scale Header
Digital Publications Link
Aviation Photo Section Link
Scale Modeling Section Link
Aviatin Artwork Link
Furball Aero Design / Detail & Scale Decals
About Us Link
Contact Us Link
Home Page Link

Detail & Scale Books

Quick Links to Available Detail & Scale Series Publications.


Detail & Scale Series


F3H Demon in
Detail & Scale
**********F2H Banshee in
Detail & Scale, Pt. 1

**********
SBD Dauntless in
Detail & Scale

**********

F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
**********

F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale
**********

F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale

**********

Military Aviation Websites:
Click Here

——————

Scale Modeling Websites:
Click Here



KIT REVIEW


Revell Antonov An-225 Mrija -- 1:144 Scale



There are airplanes, and then there are big airplanes.  And then…there’s the An-225 Mrija.  Conceived late in the Cold War era to support the Soviet space shuttle program, the An-225 is the largest and heaviest aircraft ever built.  One airframe was manufactured, and today, it flies as a special purpose super-heavy-cargo airlifter.  Late 2018 saw a new tool 1:144 scale An-225 released by Revell, and a review sample just arrived here at Detail & Scale.  Let’s check this thing out!

(Return to top of page)

In the 1980s, the Soviet Union was trying to catch up in the space race, developing something of a copy of the U.S. orbiter.  The Soviets lacked an aircraft that could serve in the analogous role of the Boeing 747 space shuttle carriers.  Thus, the Antonov An-225 Mrija (or “Dream” in English; NATO reporting name "Cossack") was born.  The task of building such an airplane fell to the Antonov Design Bureau.  The Mrija was in many ways an enlarged An-124 with a Y-shaped twin tail configuration and six engines.  It is the largest and heaviest airplane ever built and sports the largest wingspan of any aircraft in service.  The first An-225 took flight in 1988, and while a second airframe was coming together on the assembly line, the collapse of the Soviet Union brought that effort to a close by 1994 (though work was restarted in fits and spurts 2009, it still remains incomplete - but may still fly in 2019 with Chinese backing).

The An-225 ferried the Buran space shuttle following its first unmanned mission perhaps most memorably to the 1989 Paris Air Show.  Following the fall of communism and the death of the Buran/Energia program, the An-225 was an airplane without a purpose and it was handed off to Ukraine.  It was stored between 1993 and 2000 but then overhauled and reintroduced as a civil special cargo airlifter.  The one-and-only Mrija flies under the flag of Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines today.  It moves otherwise prohibitively large or high quantity/high volume cargos otherwise impossible to deliver in a single flight.  Some of its more famous loads include colossal generator for an Armenian powerplant, a single shipment of 216,000 meals for American service personnel at the opening of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, main battle tanks, and the largest-ever wind turbine blades that were flown from China to Denmark.  In the process, the An-225 established multiple records unlikely to be broken any time soon, such as the heaviest airlifted single-item payload of 418,830 pounds and a total airlifted payload of 559,580 pounds.

(Return to top of page)

Revell’s 1:144 scale An-225 Mrija is a big kit and it comes in a big box (23.5”x16.5”x5”). This injection-molded plastic model kit contains 231 white plastic parts across eight sprues along with 13 clear parts on two sprues.  The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 89 steps.  Markings are provided for the Mrija in its two liveries between August 2009 to August 2016 and August 2016 onward:

Strengths:  Revell has tackled a long sought-after subject with their 1:144 scale An-225 and they have done quite an impressive job here.  There’s a mix of “wow factor” and technical attributes of the kit that really mesh well together.  The size of the completed model is something to admire - in 1:144 scale, the wingspan is in excess of two feet and the fuselage length is just shy of 24’’.  It is indeed larger than my 1:144 scale Anigrand C-5 Galaxy.

The kit is molded in white polystyrene plastic and features very nice recessed panel lines and other details.  The parts breakdown is pretty conventional (e.g., upper and lower wing halves, left and right fuselage halves), but there are some very nice and thoughtful design features in the kit (see below).  Despite its size, the Revell An-225 will not be an overly-complex build.   

This Mrija kit features four major construction options (gear-up, in flight; gear down, nose closed; gear down, nose open, cargo ramp retracted, and; gear down, nose open, cargo ramp deployed).  These various options are color coded in the instructions so the steps to build whatever alternate version you choose are unambiguous.  For any of the nose-open configurations, the kit provides a full cargo bay interior.  What’s nice about this is the thoughtful approach taken to how the interior was done.  Instead of having molded-on details on the inside of the fuselage halves and various ungainly seams, the interior of the An-225 is a complete, self-enclosed shell that builds up from eight large plastic parts that include the cargo deck floor, ceiling, and walls.  The approach echoes that used by Revell for their 1:72 scale C-54D Skymaster kit a few years back (see our review HERE).  It works and it is a very smart way to do large interiors of cargo aircraft.  The small flight deck is also added to the front of this assembly and helps emphasize the sheer size and volume of the cavernous cargo deck. 

One thing I always look for in reviews are dreaded ejection pin marks.  It’s an easy thing to ding a kit for, and they can represent a decent amount of time and labor to remove these manufacturing artifacts from a kit part.  It would have been real easy to produce molds that would produce ejection pin marks in the main gear wells and interior cargo bay parts.  Here, Revell thought it through quite carefully, and these parts are blemish-free.  There are some parts with ejection pin defects (see below) but they are certainly limited in number.

Another great feature that shows Revell was thinking about the scale modeler and the buildability of this kit are the single-piece engine cowls.  For those of you who have built airliner kits or jets with podded engines, it is exceedingly common to have the entire engine and even the pylon split into left and right halves.  This results in upper and lower seams that can be a nightmare to remove, especially since the first stage compressor blades have to be installed first and they can be a real obstacle to totally eliminating internal cowling seams (and that’s a nice way to put it).  Here, Revell has the each individual exterior engine cowl and the internal cowling baffle as a single piece that just drops into the front of the engine nacelle and pops onto the margin of the engine’s turbine blades.  Nice!!

Injection molded polystyrene is plastic, and by definition, it can change shape.  With such big and heavy wings, they can indeed sag given enough time.  To combat this, the kit includes a rather large and hefty centerline wing spar that extends out from the center of the wing box to about the middle quarter of the wing interior (though see below).  A similar interior spar helps stabilize and align the horizontal stabilizers, too.  

Other nice features include the details on the cargo ramp, interior flight deck access ladders (built as either stowed or dropped/extended; they’re to my eye a little thick and overscale for 1:144 scale, but they can still be seen as acceptable), nose jackpads, and the fourteen main landing gear (seven per side, with 28 tires between them – that’s some serious weight distribution).  

The decals were rendered by the great folks at Daco Design and then printed by Zanchetti, one of Revell’s decal printing subcontractors.  Zanchetti does good decals to be sure, and this is physically the largest sheet I’ve seen them print.  They have done a great job here with technically excellent decals, from printing, colors, and application of carrier film.  The scheme here is surely one of the highlights of the kit, and you’ve got to do it right. Well done!

Weaknesses:  Revell’s An-225 is a solid kit with lots to recommend to it, but there are a few things to consider.  These are less weakness per se and more like items to consider.  The interior is great for 1:144 scale, but it is also pretty basic.  I see it as a canvass to add some more detail.  Also, the control surfaces are not separate parts – too bad, at least in my opinion.  It’s true that such features would have increased tooling costs and the price of the kit, but dropped flaps on this gargantuan jet would add a lot of visual/aesthetic appeal for some (many?) builders.    

Some of the sprue gates connected parts to sprues can be a bit large, especially for the big airframe elements.  Put down the sprue clippers and safely remove those with a razor saw.  Also, the white plastic can make it a little more difficult to see defects in seams and snipped/sawed sprue attachment sites.  Be doubly sure to prime at least those areas to check them out.

There are some parts with ejection pin markings such as the inside surfaces of each main gear strut.  Yet, these pin markings are small and barely perceptible to the point I would probably not mess with them.  A few other parts including some of the decking in the nose have these blemishes, but I don’t think you’ll ever see them in the completed model.  Just keep an eye out.     

Also, I am a very cautious builder when it comes to long-term load bearing and plastic wings on big models.  While the wing spar in the kit helps a lot, I would still add some epoxy-affixed brass strip plating (not too heavy, though!) along the length of the lower wing half to further strengthen it.  A lightweight alternative with equal or greater tensile strength would be to use epoxy or superglue impregnated fiberglass cloth applied to the inside of the lower wing half.  I’ve used that on some very big projects and it works like a charm.  You don’t want to come back in five or ten years to your Mrija and find the upper wing seams cracking and the wings sagging.  

(Return to top of page)

Revell has done a very solid job with their new An-225 kit.  It is impressive in size, quality, and thoughtful design features that will make this a fun kit to build.  I am pretty enthusiastic about it, and when I call this kit a “beast,” it is a high compliment.  It is expensive at just under $100, but you are getting a lot of plastic here.  This kit has just been released, and I look forward seeing what aftermarket detail sets might be produced to add more detail to this remarkable super-heavy airlifter.  I would also implore Revell to consider producing another, Soviet-era edition of this kit to include a Buran orbiter.  I think that would sell…!

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

(Return to top of page)

** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 

(Return to top of page)

Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
*********

Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
*********


Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

********


Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
********


Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

**********


Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

**********