There is a moderate amount of flash, which is unsurprising in a 37 year old kit. Fine raised panel lines that are out of scale for 1/144 and will be obliterated by all the sanding that will be necessary. Open doors but nothing to put inside them. This kit has also been released by Daco/Skyline with one of Danny's superb decal sheets. It is currently not in the Airfix catalogue. Airfix did not seal their kits into plastic bags in the '80s and '90s, leaving the sprue trees to rattle around inside the box and knock pieces off their attachment points. This kit is no exception and several parts have come adrift.
Fuselage The fuselage is two halves from nose to tail. The cabin windows are open, with no clear parts provided for them in the more recently released kits. The first issue in 1974 had clear parts to insert in the windows but they were so thick and distorted nothing could be seen of the interior anyway so it's just as well that there's nothing provided. The last row of 15 windows (behind the aft door) angles upwards to allow for a full height cargo bay under the floor but Airfix exaggerated the angle. Correcting this to allow for clear windows will be a monumental task involving cutting out the windows plus a wedge of fuselage below and then swapping them followed by filling and sanding to blend the repair into the fuselage. Filling the windows and using decals is a much simpler fix. The cockpit windows are a single piece strip that is easy to either break or lose within the fuselage. There are 3 bulkheads to help support the fuselage. I wish more airliner kits included them. The cockpit bulkhead prevents the see-though look and makes for a good place to put the nose weight. The instructions do not indicate the need for nose weight but from long experience I know it's needed. Airfix chose to mould the cabin and baggage doors separately for nearly all their airliners. Unfortunately they have never fit very well, and will need to be puttied and sanded after they are installed. All the sanding needed with this kit means that the raised panel lines will be obliterated. Perhaps this is a good kit to practise re-scribing on. The APU exhaust outlet is just a hole in the tail. If desired, the modeller may fill it with a small piece of styrene tube. The rudder is moulded into the left fuselage half. It leaves a nasty seam which will need careful cleanup. Airfix missed the rather prominent intakes on the lower fuselage between the wings. They'll have to be scratch-built or robbed from a Revell Beluga.
Wings The wings are two pieces each, with separate flap actuator fairings. The trailing edges are moulded into the upper wing halves and could benefit with some thinning. There are ejector pin marks in the upper wing that will interfere with the fit. They'll have to be ground down. The wingtips will need filling to eliminate the rather large gaps. Melting in pieces of stretched sprue is a good trick to do here. Again the detail is raised, but it will generally escape the sandpaper. The fit is not quite good enough to enable the wings to be attached after painting; they will have to be done first and masked off. The corogard on A-300s was applied right up to the spoiler hinge line, which is quite complex. Masking this for painting is tricky. Fortunately, Liveries Unlimited/Airways Graphics International released corogard decals for the A-300 which include the tricky shapes and the black walkway lines that were applied to nearly every A-300. I've included a picture of this useful and highly recommended decal.
Empennage The tail-planes are two piece mouldings. Their fit is a little sloppy until they're glued in place. Leave them off until final assembly to facilitate painting and decalling. The elevators are moulded with the upper halves, leaving another nasty gap to fill. There are ejector pin marks and what appears to be marks from corrosion damage in the moulds to remove before gluing.
Engines The GE CF-6 engines were the best Airfix airliner engines ever. They consist of the hot section and pylon plus the cold section cowling and intake fan. The intake fan is supported by a shaft that runs through the engine and becomes the exhaust cone (although it has no turbine blade detail). The exhaust parts are marred by ejector pin marks and flash which will need cleaning up. The cold section cowling closes over the front of the hot section providing the most detailed engine ever released for an airliner model until Revell's 21st Century efforts with their AN-124 and A-380. The engines were so good at the time the kit was issued that Clint Groves of ATP/Airliners America bought a batch of A-300s from Airfix just to rob the engines to sell as conversion kits for 747s. The large diameter intakes will attract the viewer's attention so care needs to be taken to eliminate the seam which will be highly visible inside the intake. The nail polish remover trick will come in handy here. These intakes were the first ever attempt to show the correct thickness and shape of the intake lip and inner walls, a feature kits issued even today often miss.
Landing gear The landing gear struts and wheels are basic. They could use some brake lines and whatever else the modeller likes, but will look acceptable without. There are hugely inaccurate axle holes on the gear legs which are supposed to allow the wheels to roll. Correcting these will involve a lot of scratch-building. There is an option for raised gear, but no stand is provided. Earlier issues had one of Airfix' famous clear plastic stands. There is no detail in the wheel wells. As with all 1/144 kits, the gear doors are overly thick and may be replaced if the modeller wishes.
Accuracy I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it looks like an A-300.
Decals and markings The decal sheet is basic, with only the airline markings and GE engine logos provided. Lufthansa's blue cheat-line is printed solid and Airfix provides a punch tool on the clear sprue which is intended to punch out the windows after the decal is dry. In my experience this method can leave messy scraps of decal sticking in the windows or floating inside the fuselage to haunt the modeller later on. Worse, it can tear the decal if it didn't adhere properly to the model, something Airfix decals of this vintage are prone to doing. The Air France scheme has no cheat-line which neatly avoids this issue. The decals are matte finished and in common with many Airfix decals issued during the Humbrol period, are annoyingly out of register (see the detail picture). The Air France scheme having fewer colours avoids much of this problem. If you don't like the kit decals there are many different choices provided by the aftermarket industry. No window decals are provided. Modellers wishing to apply decal windows must source them separately.
My review sounds fairly harsh, but when built with the usual amount of “some modelling skills required” this kit will yield a convincing A-300. When introduced it was the state of the art for airliner models and most of its flaws are the result of ageing moulds and the lack of details we now take for granted in modern kits. I would love to see a new A-300 released with the same kind of detail Revell and Minicraft have been lavishing in their newer kits, but simple economics says that my dream will most likely remain just a dream.
Highs: The only A-300 in 1/144. Good shape and wide variety of decal schemes available.Lows: Raised detail that will be sanded away due to the poor fit. Inaccurate window line difficult to fix without using decal windows. Decals out of register.Verdict: This one's the only game in town if you want an A-300. Given a moderate amount of work, a good model will result.