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European Heavy-lifter

Atlas A400M in Service with Air Forces around the World

Duke Hawkins Aircraft in detail 019, by R. Pied & N. Deboeck

HMH Publications, ISBN 978-2-931083-09-3

After almost 50 years of (very) good and loyal service, the C-130Hs of the Belgian Air Force will definitively leave our national sky in December 2021 for a well-deserved retirement. There is no need to go back over the countless services rendered by this workhorse or the exploits it has performed around the world. We can only wish the same success and an equally rich and long career to its successor, the Airbus A400M. As you read this, five (or six) aircraft have already been delivered, the seventh will be delivered in 2022, while the last one will take some time to be delivered, i.e. in January 2024. Yet the A400M is not a brand new aircraft, its gestation was in fact very, very long. In the early 1990s, yours truly, who was on a mission to the Farnborough Airshow, had already had the opportunity to visit a full-scale mock-up of the front end of what was then still called the “Future Large Aircraft, FLA”, a European project. In 2002, a first hangar for the Armée de l’Air A400M had already been built on the Base Aérienne 123 in Orléans-Bricy, while the first A400M of the French Air Force only entered service in 2013… All this to illustrate that such a project cannot be realised in a snap of the fingers. Nevertheless, the A400M is now a reality in our skies and is already popular, as can be seen from the number of posts on social networks where everyone is trying to post pictures of this newcomer.

We can confirm that HMH Publications’ Aircraft in detail series is going from strength to strength, with new titles following each other at a rapid pace and with this new title being of particular interest to us in Belgium. The very last line of the book states: “In this book, we show you the new transport aircraft both in action and in detail“. Confirmation: that’s exactly what it does!

The format has not changed; it is still 24 x 24 cm, all in colour. Almost perfect happiness for us nitpicking modellers and detail lovers. The photos are sharp, covering the aircraft in its entirety and in detail. The pictures are obviously recent, and illustrate all the users (to date): France, Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia and of course Belgium and… Luxembourg. The text is in English. The book has 140 pages this time (24 more than for the A-Jet), with all the parts of the aircraft reviewed and very nice general photos and useful close-ups. Is it really necessary to write that this will help you to improve your model, at least if your dexterity allows it? If the 320+ photos are not enough to “super detail” your model, then you have a serious problem!

As for the models, the choice is quite limited with only two options, both from Revell: either 1/144th or 1/72nd scale. The latter has already been the subject of a few reissues. The cottage industry has not been idle: several improvement and detail sets are already available in resin or in PE, as are decal sets and masks.

And very good or even excellent news for us, our national Daco is preparing a decal sheet for the A400M. No details on the content yet, but logically, this set should cover at least all the Atlas of the 15th Wing.. Wait & see.

Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by HMH Publications.

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