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Airbus A300-600ST Beluga (03817) 1:144


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Airbus A300-600ST Beluga (03817)

1:144 Carrera Revell




The Beluga is an aircraft that’s close to my heart, as it frequently flies near or even over my home on its way to and from the Airbus factory at Hawarden, Chester.  The fleet has recently been augmented by a larger and more advanced aircraft that is based on the Airbus A330, and is called the BelugaXL that brings a 30% increase in capacity, which also wears a distinctive mouth and eyes of its namesake whale around the nose area and cockpit.  The Beluga as it is now known was originally called the Super Transporter, which is where the ST part of its nomenclature originates, and it was designed to transport over-sized components, typically the wings of the now discontinued A380, as well as many other large airframe assemblies that can include fuselages of smaller Airbus products on an ongoing basis.   It replaced the ageing turbo-prop powered Super Guppies in 1995, with a fleet of five airframes carrying out their duties ever since.  With the XL fleet now coming on stream at a rate of one per year, the Airbus operating company have extended their services to the wider transport world for outsized cargo to hopefully utilise excess capability, and possibly to take over loads that were previously carried by the sadly destroyed Antonov An.225 Mrija that was callously destroyed by the invaders of Ukraine.  Although the Beluga’s cargo area is larger even than the legendary C-5 Galaxy, its load is limited to a comparatively low 47 tonnes, which is less than half to a third of its major competitors, although 47 tonnes is still a huge weight, especially if it’s on your foot.


The BelugaXL is intended to replace the Beluga fleet in due course, with an original date of 2025, but as of 2023 they are still running side-by-side, with a slight difference in the howling take-off run letting us know which one is leaving Hawarden around 10 miles away.  Cargo is loaded at the front via a portion of the fuselage above the nose raising toward the vertical while the low-mounted pressurised cockpit remains in position, giving the crew an excellent view of the runway during landing and take-off, without complicating the door’s mechanism or necessitating the evacuation of the crew during loading.  The lower portion of the aircraft remains close to the standard A300, the major differences above the line where you would expect the windows to be, bulging out to accommodate the cargo it has been tasked with over the last 30+ years, and the introduction of the Beluga has reduced Airbus’s transport costs by a third, which is a substantial saving over the years.  The production of the XL fleet is proceeding apace, the last of them rolling out onto the tarmac in the summer of 2023, with the original intention of drawing down the Belugas, which hasn’t completed yet at time of writing.  When they do leave service, they will still have life left in them, and will be used by Airbus Beluga Transport (AiBT) for use carrying general oversized freight around the world.



The Kit

This is a reboxing of Revell’s 1997 kit, and is of course the only kit of the type in this scale.  The kit arrives in a long end-opening box, and inside are five sprues of white styrene, a small open-sided clear sprue, a large decal sheet and the instructions printed in colour, with profiles for decals and markings on the back pages.  Although the tooling is 25 years old now, detail is good, although some of the panel lines on the large cylindrical cargo area could be considered a little deep, but after primer and a few coats of paint they should reduce somewhat.



















Construction begins with the nose gear bay, which is moulded as a single part with a little detail inside, plus two ejector-pin marks that should be hidden beneath the substantial pivot-point that is mated with the lower portion of the strut, through which the twin wheels, one with moulded-in axle are slotted and glued.  A long retraction jack locates into cups in the bay roof, and is joined to the leg around half way, painting everything in preparation for insertion under the cockpit.  The fuselage halves have cut-lines for the cargo door thinned out from within, which is a nice feature, but that then puts the onus on the builder to create the interior, but no mention of this is made until the very end of the instructions.  The windscreen is inserted into the port fuselage half along with the nose gear bay, then the two fuselage halves are mated, glued and taped in position while the glue cures.  Underneath are a pair of fairings with NACA vents moulded-in, which fit into recesses in the fuselage halves, and those are best inserted once the fuselage halves have had their seams dealt with to your satisfaction, as there are some undulations near the edges in places.


The elevators of the Beluga are made from top and bottom halves, and have their vertical surfaces made up from inner and outer faces, mating on a shallow peg that would suggest their installation would be best done after they are joined to the fuselage so that their alignment can be checked and corrected if necessary.  Plugging the finished assemblies into the tail, attention shifts to the wings, which have a gear bay detail insert glued to the interior of the upper half before joining the lower, and Revell’s instructions show a clothes peg approaching the assembly menacingly from below.  Use any clamps you wish however, and please don’t have nightmares.  Once both wings are made, they each have five flap actuator fairings pinned in place, and a wingtip inserted in the open end, which has a little winglet at the rear of the fairing.  The wings can then be plugged into each side of the fuselage on three substantial pegs, one of which is the inner end of the gear bay insert.  Careful alignment of the wings is crucial, so it is wise to check and support the wings just in case one or both moves during the curing period of whatever glue you use.  While you wait, the twin GE CF6-80C2A8 (catchy name!) turbofan engines are built up by fitting the front face, rear face and bullet parts within one half of the engine cowling before closing and gluing it, painting the components before it is put together.  The pylons are moulded into the engine cowlings, and these are fixed to the underwing on a pair of pins, again taking care with alignment so they both hang correctly in relation to the ground.


The two main gear legs are built up identically in mirror image, adding a retraction jack to the strut, followed by a pair of brake assemblies on a carrier linkage, then sliding two wheels with integral axles through the brakes and gluing the other wheels to the other side.  These are inserted into the bay on three pegs, and have the bay door cut into two sections and glued in place on the outer edge of the bay.  The nose gear was completed earlier, and has its bay door part cut in half for installation on each side of the bay.  At this point, we find out that the model can also be completed in-flight by omitting the nose gear and main gear assemblies, placing the bay doors into the cut-outs without cutting them in half, however the nose gear doors will need the hinges cutting off so they will fit.  Four small probes are glued over engraved marks under the nose, adding wingtip lights, plus a pair of position lights under the belly and on the top of the fuselage.


Finally, the optional opened load area is dealt with, attaching the cut sections, now glued together, to the top of the open front by an angled connector that is glued in position.  Then two arms are mounted on the pins moulded on either side of the cut-line, and in the next step a large insert is slid into the fuselage, but this isn’t on the sprues, which makes one wonder whether it was originally intended to be a styrene part.  The modeller is told to visit step 37, where two drawings that show a pattern for the floor and rear bulkhead are to be used, an icon showing that a cutting motion is taking place.  There are a line of small circular turrets to support the floor on each side of the fuselage interior, but they don’t offer a lot of support, so it may be wise to increase that by adding more material, and whilst doing that there are several ejector-pin marks inside the fuselage halves that you could also obliterate.  Whether you use sheet styrene or cardboard is entirely up to you, and then you must decide whether to also detail the interior of the fuselage with ribbing and ancillary equipment, or depict it in the process of disgorging its cargo, thereby hiding the emptiness of the interior.  That’s a fun question to ask yourself.




All five Belugas wear the same scheme, with a blue stripe up the rear of the fuselage and tailfin with stylised arcs in different shades of blue on the fin itself, the Airbus and Beluga names on the sides, whilst the only differentiating markings are the numbers on the front of their cargo doors, and their civil registration numbers.  Only airframes 1, 2 and 3 are depicted on the sheet, so from the box you can build the following:


  • Number 1 TA F-GSTA
  • Number 2 TB F-GSTB
  • Number 3 TC F-GSTC






Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  There are also blue wingtip decals included on the sheet, with a spare in one corner, plus a triangular piece of blue decal to help with any gaps between the stripe decals, which are made from four parts, two per side.




There’s a ready audience for the Beluga, as it is an unusual-looking aircraft, and that is possibly about to increase if they are being drawn down from service.  Whether we’ll see them back on the shelves in an AiBT livery remains to be seen, but it is a good time to pick one up with the official Airbus scheme, just in case it’s a while before it is back.


Highly recommended.


Carrera Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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