Today*, the immortal cartoon character Tintin is ninety years old, as it’s ninety years since he first appeared in print.
A few years ago, a series of aircraft and cars, each accompanied by a character from the books was released. As well as a number that are iconic and crucial to the plots, a few are very offbeat, including this one.
It’s a Wibault 283T airliner, in Air France colours. Only twenty, of all versions (see here) were built, and this is listed as a Wibault 283-T.12 from 1930 in the model booklet (12 probably being for the passenger count). I’m guessing it’s the only time this has been released commercially either as a finished model or as a construction kit (awaits correction…).
For me, that obscurity’s good enough. But there’s a bit more. The aircraft ONLY appears as a single panel in the adventure ‘The Broken Ear’, where the two villains board it to catch up with Tintin’s delayed ship, as seen in the photo above. The figure included is Ramón, one of the two bad guys, who at least appears throughout the story.
The registration on the model is ‘reverse engineered’ from what can be seen in the drawing, but the real F-AMUN was a different aircraft type entirely.
So we go from a single simple (but accurate enough) drawing in a comic story to a die-cast model for collectors. It is also nice to see one of the most impressive airline logos – the Air France ‘flying seahorse’, a design I’m sure we’ll return to.
So a work of illustration, here, captures an otherwise forgotten type for a new audience.
James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.
The range of aircraft (and road vehicles) available.
*At the time of writing, the 10th January in Belgium.