Atlas Convair enhanced

By John Quilter

All photographs by the Author, and copyright of the Author, except for the photograph of the real plane which was uploaded by Logawl and is in Wikipedia Commons.

In the late mid to late 1940s there was a growing commercial airline business beginning to gear up to the new world after the Second World War. The workhorse Douglas DC-3 was an ageing design and even though there were many available as war surplus, American Airlines commissioned a newer replacement aircraft, also a twin engine mono plane with low wings but now with tricycle landing gear. American also wanted a pressurized aircraft for use at higher altitudes. The result was the Convair 240 the first in this series of aircraft. While Douglas was busy making larger, longer range DC-6s and Lockheed the Constellation L749, Convair stepped in with a smaller twin engine aircraft for shorter distance travel. The 240 had a range of 400 to 1000 miles but with the later stretched version, the 340, this increased to 1875 miles. Both used the well-known Pratt and Whitney R2800 Double Wasp radial engines of 18 cylinders.

The 340 was launched with United Airlines in early 1952. Other airlines using this type were, Braniff, Delta, Hawaiian, National, and internationally, All Nippon, Garuda Indonesian, Philippine, Saudia Arabian Airlines, Ansett, Finnair, Alitalia, Lufthansa, KLM and others. The 340 was similar in size to the Vickers Viscount 700 and 800 but was piston powered rather than jet powered turbo props. Speeds of the two aircraft were similar in the area of 280 MPH for the Convair versus 310 to 350 for the two Vickers. The 340 in piston engine configuration flew in the USA well into the late 1960s and later versions known as the 580s, which were turboprop powered, were still in service as late as the mid-1980s

Atlas Editions make a quite comprehensive range of chrome plated aircraft, and include many of the famous commercial aviation aircraft of the late 1930s s to the 90s. All are in 1:200 scale which makes this Convair 340, shown above, about 4.75 inches in length with a wingspan of 6.5. 1:200th scale is what my aircraft collection comprises so this Convair fit in well with my older Dinky Toy items such as the Vickers Viking, Lockheed Constellation, Caravelle and others. My collection now comprises well over 20 aircraft from the Boeing Stratocruiser all the way to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and on the McDonald Douglas side from the DC-2 to the DC-10. Even such items as the BAE 146 and Lockheed Electra are represented.

The Atlas Edition Convair came in chrome but I really wanted to have it fit in with the other period livery United Airlines propliners in my collection. To do this I found Vintage Flyer Decals who make very accurate decals for the United scheme but they were In 144:1 scale. When I contacted the owner he agreed to supply me with a 1:200 decal which was perfect for my project. I painted the aircraft (is it a crime to paint over chrome?? [Editor: No crime at all I cannot see the appeal of chrome models, but I know it can be difficult to do!])  in the appropriate silver and white colours and applied the decal when it arrived off the printing queue at Vintage Flyer. It is necessary to prime thoroughly the slick surface of the chrome to get the paint to stick well but I still keep handling it to a minimum. Perhaps scuffing the chrome would have been advisable before painting.

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