Sometimes a bargain comes along and http://www.Airspotters.com had just one of these in their January sale for £12.00 ($18US) and as it’s been a long time since I’ve had a new cargo arrival I thought it was about time, it’s also a livery I’ve always quite liked.
This particular aircraft has an interesting history. She was originally ordered by Malaysia Airlines and registered as 9M-MPC on 10th May 1993 and served as a passenger plane until 2007 when she was sold to Israel Aircraft Industries for conversion under the Bedek Special Freighter programme (hence BDSF) . This involved:
– Installation of side cargo door at the aft of the main deck
– Reinforcement of Cargo Floor
– 30 plus main deck container or pallet positions
– Fully powered cargo handling system
– 20-foot container capabilities
– Increased cargo height (10 feet) capability
– Upper deck occupancy reconfiguration
– Systems and interior modification into freighter configuration
– Fully lined main deck cargo compartment
The aircraft were very cheap to convert, around $54 million US and consequently popular with airline accountants! The downside was the air-conditioning systems were considered very poor and the side cargo door was far more limiting than having a full nose door of the purpose-built versions. However the savings were vast compared to buying a new aircraft.
Re-registered by her new operator World Airways Cargo (leased from Air Castle) as N740WA on 28th March 2008 (hence the year of production of the model), she served until October 2013 before being stored at RME (aka Griffis Air Force Base/International Airport), for a short period. She was then registered as TF-AMM on behalf of Air Atlanta Icelandic (what a cool name!) who operate her on behalf of Saudia Cargo, whose livery she currently carries.
1) Main Fuselage
The real surprise about this model is how beautifully made it is. AV400 have always been pretty good models, the dozen or so I have been a generation in quality terms, ahead of the lower quality regularly pumped out by Gemini in the last few years, especially from the start of the recession in 2008. This is a really neat well made mould and has the push-in wings rather than the horrible old cradle system. The quality of the print and finish is on a par with what we were seeing from Phoenix 18 months ago, if not better. This is one of the largest of the AV400’s I’ve owned as most have been much smaller aircraft. There isn’t a vast amount of detail to put on but what there is first class for the build period.
Four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 are well made and detailed, neatly and accurately attached to the pylons. Again there is a degree of precision about these that surpasses anything else the other manufacturers have come up with. the paint on the inside of the leading edge of the nacelles is not quite up where it should be but it surpasses what many have managed in the past. My only dislike is the silver used in the engine intakes, which really shouldn’t be so bright, especially the fan blades. In general they are a pretty neat assembly, looking more detailed than some of the period.
3) Landing Gear
Fully rotating heavy black tyres rather than wheels look mildly incongruous – not the best look in the world but they are very tidy and don’t look too out-of-place. Certainly for the price paid, nothing to complain about. The bogies are fixed in position. It’s the nose wheel that looks too big because of the tyre size, but while it’s not pretty it’s also no major issue on a model that’s now already 7 years old.
4) Tail fin and stabilizers
Extremely fine and well made, again that precision seems to be on a new level. just perfectly neat and as they should be.
5) Wings and underbody.
The wings are push-in and elegant, not a drop of excess paint, all the detail shows everywhere you would want, very detailed and very neat both above and below the wing. Modern manufacturing should take note. It is possible to do detail without using excess paint to cover it up!
Spot on. No complaints. the only reference are photographs now as the livery on this aircraft is now Saudia Cargo.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
I have nothing to complain about – it’s already 7 years old and may have spent too long down the back of a warehouse shelving unit, but you would never know it! A bargain I’m delighted to have and other than those oversized tyres, I’d give it a 9/10 – a refreshing surprise from so long ago that it is this good. I miss AV400 releases.
Revised photo layout due to old site formatting errors April 2018