Aurora 1/72 737 'United' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||Updated April 2015
|Subject||Boeing 737 'United'||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||0359||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Represents early 737-100||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
Building on the huge success of the 707 long-range jet airliner, Boeing pushed into other market segments to push piston-powered airliners into the history books. The 727 tri-jet was a huge success in the intermediate range market. It was time for the first 'regional jet', a twin-engined short haul aircraft that could operate from austere airports. It was time for the 737.
The aircraft was a model of self-sufficiency. It could hop into a small airport, load and unload passengers through its own retractable air stair mounted beneath the main cabin door, provide its own starting power with an auxiliary power unit in the tail, and operate in and out of airports that its bigger brothers would fear to fly. If you've seen the Discovery Channel's special on bush flying in Alaska, that is indeed the Boeing 737-200 operating from that strange (and dangerous) little airport.
The initial 737-100 was set up with a single aisle with three seats on each side, accommodating roughly 100 passengers, but this model was short lived (30 aircraft) when the fuselage was stretched another 6'4" and the 737-200 entered production with over 1,100 examples built. It's unique profile gained it the nickname "Guppy" among flight crews and air traffic control.
This is an 'ancient' model from Aurora that isn't a bad looking model of the early Boeing 737-100 (see Update below). This is the only 737-100 kit produced in styrene in 1/72 scale. BPK Models released the 737-200 in 1/72 scale while Airfix released the 737-200 in 1/144 and Minicraft has produced the later generation guppies in the same scale.
Molded in white styrene, this kit was designed as a quick build which was ideal for younger modelers (me, for one). As you can see in the photos to the right, the kit is simple in layout with the only real challenge being the installation of the clear windscreen.
For those seeking a more accurate rendition of the aircraft, you'll have to add the thrust reverser fairings onto the engine nacelles as a minimum. This kit has lots of potential for a modeler with some scratchbuilding skills. If you have an extra kit lying around, you can stretch the fuselage to render the -200.
There is no interior provided in the kit, but if you have access to the Heller 707 kit, you can adapt many of the interior components to this project. Once again, modeling skills are required for such an undertaking.
Markings are provided for a United Airlines aircraft, while other releases of this kit offered Lufthansa and PSA livery. It doesn't matter much which one(s) you have, chances are that the decals will shatter when exposed to water. You'd be better off adapting aftermarket decals to suit your project.
Update (April 2015)
In my original look at this kit ten years ago, I had passed along that the engine cowlings were incorrect for the -100. I recently received an interesting letter from a former aircraft mechanic who corrected my understanding of the Guppy's history. The engine cowlings in the kit are indeed correctly shaped for the 737-100 as initially designed. The thrust reverser actuator fairings were mounted in the nine and three o'clock positions at the rear. That lasted less than a year after the 737-100 entered service.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive (AD) against the 737-100 after several dangerous incidents with the thrust reversers. On snow and ice, the thrust reversers would push volumes of air under the wings lifting the aircraft enough to negate brake effectiveness and causing aircraft to skid off the runway. The fix was to extend the engine fairings 48 inches aft to bring the reversers out from under the wings and to rotate the reversers about 30 degrees inboard to allow for half of the reverser thrust to blow over the top of the wings. So out of the box, this kit is correct for the pre-AD guppy but you'll need to modify the nacelles to the shape used by the post-AD 737-100 and all 737-200 airframes.
My sincere thanks to Ben Kennedy for setting the record straight.