Great Wall 747-412FSCD B-2433 Apollo A13010 2013 Release

Great Wall 747-412FSCD B-2433 Apollo A13010 2013 Release

B-2433 at Anchorage ©Michael J Carter
B-2433 at Anchorage ©Michael J Carter

Sometimes a bargain comes along and http://www.Airspotters.com had just one of these in their clearance for £10 ($15.40) and at the time of writing I think they still had a couple left. I have wanted to grow my Cargo arm for the RLSI diorama for some time and it’s now pretty much up to about the maximum feasible with 2 cargo aircraft on display at any one time.

This is one of the now defunct Apollo/Witty models and it uses the cradle system as Apollo did for all their 744’s – with the exception that theirs are seamless and neat without Grand Canyon gaps found so commonly on mass-produced Gemini’s. I need to say from the outset this is one of those models for which photography does not do it justice. I’ll explain more later.

Great Wall 744F Arrives at RLSI
Great Wall 744F Arrives at RLSI

She had an interesting history. Ordered from new as a freighter with a full nose door and rear port side cargo door, she was delivered to Singapore Airlines Cargo on 29th September 2000. Her basic livery remained Singapore airlines in 2006 when she began operating for Great Wall Airlines based in Shanghai who changed the tail and the fuselage name tiles, leaving the blues of the tips, engines and underbody pretty much intact.

The airline got itself into trouble in 2006 (this aircraft was believed involved in the shipments), when the US accused it of shipping embargoed missile and research equipment to Iran. The embargo on the airline was cleared later that year. The company was mostly owned by China Eastern and Singapore Airlines with a few lesser shareholders.

Servicing Amsterdam, Manchester, Seoul, Seattle and Chicago the service was principally scheduled until In 2011 the company was merged into China Cargo Airlines with Shanghai Airlines Cargo, following the massive post-recession dip in air cargo globally in 2009-10. She still wears the Great Wall Livery and is classed as leased from Singapore Airlines Cargo until at least 2016.

The blue is truly lustrous and looks amazing
The blue is truly lustrous and looks amazing

These freighters are relatively simple and the Apollo mould is spot on. It’s certainly better than the Phoenix which is one of the oddest 744 moulds in ways I can never quite put my finger on, but I digress. The printed detail, especially for the nose door and cargo access doors side and underbelly are all excellent. The dark blue paint colour  is something quite different and this is where the model shines, because while it isn’t metallic, it has what is technically called a goniochromism – a sort of iridescence that isn’t actually iridescent! A typical example might be the American Airlines grey – it is neither fully metallic nor pearlescent yet seems to produce the effect of being metal. The result to the naked eye is actually extremely smart and very attractive, it just doesn’t capture in photography so well.

It’s further enhanced by the lighter strip above it and the fact the engines and fonts/logos use the same colours. It just looks really modern and not in the least bit dated. Witty/Apollo never went in for the aerials and things that count as detail these days, but what they have in the mould itself and in the paint job generally more than makes up for it.

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2) Engines

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 is only spoilt by the excessive use of silver paint for the fan blades. It looks too glitzy and unreal. The wavy white -blue on the nacelles is very attractive and yet simple. The whole livery works well though I’d have chosen a more modern font.

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 boggies are fixed in position on all but the middle sets which move slightly.

4) Tail fin and stabilisers

Generally excellently put together. There looks like there is an error on the paint in the tail graphic at the top – but, if you look closely you’ll see it’s part of the design and appears on the real thing. I have no idea what its significance might be so if we have any native Mandarin speakers who can enlighten us if they know why, I’d be happy to hear!

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5) Wings and underbody.

The wings despite being cradle system are 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! More than that, the mould for the cradle is actually exceptionally good, with small details and venting nobody else has ever bothered with.

6) Colours

As explained earlier, this is  stunning colour scheme best seen, I imagine, for real. Apollo did a good job.

7) Overall score – we start at 10.

Other than the wheels, and Apollo’s habit of over silvering the engine intakes and fans nothing to moan about. Cargo isn’t everyones favourite but I love them, especially when they were built as freighters. It’s a splendid model with a great paint job. 8.75/10

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