KLM 747-406BC PH-BFH “95th” Phoenix 11052 January 2015 Release
KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) – in English a translation that mens simply Royal Airlines, is one of the oldest in the world and something the Dutch are rightly proud of. There was much anguish over its merger with Air France but modern financial realities meant it had little choice.
This particular aircraft was delivered to KLM on the 26th April 1990 (named City of Hong Kong) she was built and used as a combi, but with the massive decline in cargo following the recession AF-KLM has decided to slash its cargo arm and she appears to have operated as passenger only for some time. She is now really at the end of her life cycle – A350’s and 787-9’s are due to replace the 744 fleet during 2015-18. Indeed KLM’s need for them has been the exception to the AF-KLM groups decision to delay receipt of some its larger purchases for new aircraft to mostly just Air France.
In honesty it is likely to be the last 744 passenger aircraft I’ll buy, the speed of their exit from commercial service is accelerating at a massive rate and in reality these old KLM birds look pretty ropey – I saw several in San Francisco in the summer coming and going and they were far from tidy. My reasoning for buying it is that it can make daily weekly flights from RLSI to St Maarten Queen Juliana!
First impressions are around the packaging which is fairly innocuous and a great deal of Delft blue abounds!
1) Main Fuselage
I had to do a double take at first because only after two good looks did I realise the 95th anniversary was only on one (the port) side of the aircraft. Had Phoenix made one of those mistakes that makes you want to bang heads against walls? It took a while but I found sufficient mages of both sides of the aircraft taken in close proximity (between the start of January and February 2015) to show that indeed it was only allocated to the loading side of the aircraft, the starboard side was the standard KLM livery.
The quality of the print and detail is very high but it isn’t perfect – I’ve spoken to some of the Phoenix retailers in the UK and in the US (where strikes have delayed many deliveries) and Canada who said in various ways that they had to send more than a few of the current (Jan 2015) releases back – quality control was far from good and the releases had already been cut back by Phoenix in effect creating a shortage. Finding this out I was soon intrigued to see if there was much wrong with this KLM 744.
It has to be said that if you look very closely some of the blues and print lines are very slightly off here and there but really, it’s quite impossible to see with the naked eye so in most aspects has to be discounted as irrelevant. More to the point is the fact that Phoenix having recently gotten so good seem to be slipping backwards. This doesn’t surprise me. Everything I have ever had to do with production form China from working with all sorts of suppliers has been the same – they have no idea how to be consistent and just don’t seem to understand why they should be. We know Phoenix can do better, they have and they must.
The coach line in the dark blue and the body upper blue seem to be accurate. There is also an aerial on the upper deck roof and another on the underneath opposite. I have little complaint about the overall quality, but there are signs of it starting to slip. Overall I think the fuselage is actually pretty good, but it isn’t as good as it could be.
These are General Electric CF6-80C2B1F’s and they look very good. They hang well on three pylons, the No2 engine (inboard port side) however is not correctly positioned. I don’t know what it is about the No2 engine on four engine models, but it’s always the No2 that seems to hang wrong ! I’ve had the same issue on A340’s, A380’s and it was one of the reasons I got rid of a JC Wings SIA 744 recently. The nacelles are correct for detail as are the very neat exhaust cones. The fan blades are detailed and clean as well as being a good colour silver and titanium.
3) Landing Gear
Painted metal with detailed struts and hydraulics, fully rolling wheels. None of the bogies move. Very good wheels and tyres, not the rough ones I found on the Thomson 767.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
All as they should be, nicely assembled, a little bit of over-run colour if you look really closely, but again from a naked eye perspective hard to see. Very good but not overwhelmingly excellent.
5) Wings and underbody.
Clean and well painted without the excess paint so often applied. Being inserted into the body rather than cradle style, the neatness of the fitting is first class and looks great.
No complaints at all, they seem to be accurate.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
-1 for the very poor No2 engine fitting the nacelle. Not impressive. -0.5 for very small deterioration in detail print – not horrendous but they are there. Other than that this is an extremely good model, nobody will feel they have a bad copy if it meets these standards generally, though the engine is not in the last bit satisfactory. Another 8.5/10. I’m not amused by the engine issue. It’s going to be corrected and I’ll be happy, but the point is that’s not what I paid for. It’s generally a very good model of a really excellent liveried KLM 744. I don’t think you’d be dissapointed.
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