At Luton Airport preparing for take off – she was already in her mid twenties at this stage!
This is a model of the now deceased G-AOYP, used by Virgin Atlantic during mid to late 1980’s on a service running to Holland from Luton. She was named Maastricht Maiden. Later she was transferred to run the Dublin route and was named Dublin Lady and its in this guise the model has been manufactured.
This aircraft was originally built for BEA – British European Airways and first flew on the 3 May 1958. During its long life ‘265’ became well known throughtout Europe and beyond flying for many owners and operators including Cambrian Airways, British Airways, British Air Ferries, Air Algerie, Jersey Air Ferries, Virgin Atlantic Airways, British World Airlines, Parcel Force, Heli-Lift and finally Heli-Jet Aviation.
It was during 1997 that the aircraft was sold to Heli-Lift Ltd who then leased it to Heli-Jet Aviation. It then made the long flight to South Africa where it was withdrawn from use & stored at Lanseria Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The aircraft remained in storage until April 2006 when it was broken up. Prior to this there was talk of plans to move the aircraft to the SAA Museum and have it repainted in South African Airways livery. The nose section was saved and purchased by a restorer in 2012, and is now in the process of being rebuilt using parts from other aircraft.
Why did I buy it? Airspotters.com were having a clearance sale and it was £14. As it was twice that originally, it seemed a steal. It’s going to be used for Virgin Experience Days flights from RLSI! Thats my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Its all pretty good, the print detail seems to be entirely commensurate with any images I’ve been able to uncover. All the parts and mould shapes seem to be good. It’s bigger than you might think, being larger than an ATR-72 and capable of seating 71 passengers. The detail is neat, the oval windows are quite large by modern standards and entirely commensurate with the real thing.
These are four Rolls Royce Dart 520’s with wonderful propellers and everything looks spot on. In fact I have to say, I see nothing at all to complain about and am rather enamoured with the whole thing. The propellers are well fitted and show no signs at all of being poorly assembled – I’ve had Gemini Dash 8 and ATR that have had propellers fall off in very short order so this is quite welcome.
3) Landing Gear
Rubber tyres that roll on all wheels, angled correctly, lightweight plastic bogies and arms painted silver. I have to say that these look the part, everything seems to work and look right.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
The whole assembly is very good, no complaints.
5) Wings and underbody
Silver wings, finished in a very smooth and accurate silver. Not a lot of underbody detail. The biggest gripe I have with the model is that it uses the cradle wings method of fixing to the fuselage and the gaps are pretty big each end, really not very attractive, but because the model is small, it’s less of a big deal that it would be on something twice its size.
The base colour is white so no issues. The red is accurate as is the logo. Amazingly you might say, AC have actually done a good job of this and it’s a really nice finish.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
Its a really nice model, I’d take off a point for the gaping gaps either end of the wing-fuselage join, but that’s all. A very neat, credible and lovely little model that deserves 9/10.
Would I have purchased it seeing it first? YES, to see it is to love it especially at that low price!