Austrian Arrows DHC-8-402 Q400 OE-LGI Gemini GJTYR737 2007 release
This model I’ve been waiting on e-bay to provide for a long time. They can get madly expensive but this one cost me just £16 ($23.71US) in the end – I would have gone to £25 for it. I have to be honest I love the look of the Dash-8 but I have flown in them far too many times to enjoy it. Something akin to a chicken shed with wings, they are noisy, vibrate, have the most appalling gravity-drop landing gear system and are so potentially dangerous that after yet another landing gear failure in August 2014, SAS took all 26 of theirs out of service permanently as being too risky. Imagine how I felt on another flight on one just two weeks later! It’s an amazing feat that Bombardier have never truly resolved these issues.
The model in question is a 2004/5 build delivered in January 2005 (the 100th Dash-8 Q400 built) to Innsbruck based Tyrolean Airways who operated 18 of them under the Austrian Arrows brand from 2003-12 for Austrian Airlines. In an extraordinary move, Tyrolean actually became the effective owner-operator of Austrian Airlines inside the Lufthansa Group and is legally the parent company. Despite there being no BHX-VIE direct route we do get them over here quite often in this livery (minus the ‘arrows’) as the Lufthansa Group owned Brussels Airlines hires them in for flights to Brussels from its sister company Austrian.
This is my third Dash-8 model, joining a Flybe and Luxair pair. Strangely enough reality and the models have more often than not had similar build issues.
The main fuselage seems to be exactly right, all the shapes, graphics and colours are an good match for the real thing. In fact it never seems to amaze me how well some of these very tiny models can be when some of the larger ones can be so horribly botched. The print is OK, though the ‘arrows’ print is a little bit too over-printed, bleeding out onto the white. It’s very 2007 as standards go.
Unlike the other two, this one seems to have some sort of mould pinch mark just in front of the tail on the dorsal spine.
Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150’s power these turboprops and they sit in the overhead wings casing which also holds the one flaw with this aircraft – its main gear. I’ve experienced this many times. If you don’t know what happens it’s a bit of shock when the doors open and the wheels literally drop and bang into place.
These models have two big weaknesses – the propellers are the first. In an effort that should be commended for its daring but thought about more for its longevity, Gemini allow the propellers to rotate. The downside to this is that while the propellers are beautifully made, they have a spigot and cone to fix them into the nacelle – this however is not actually fixed into the nacelle. While there is about 5mm of spigot, they eventually come out, the spigot all too easily vanishes and the propeller drops off.
The Flybe version has now done this so often – and I’ve been lucky that an all services search and rescue with a magnifying glass has found the offending spigot – that it’s now had to be permanently glued into place. The Luxembourg one has already had one side fixed. The oddity is that all of them, as soon as you get them out of the box, have the port side droop – but it doesn’t fall out and you can’t pull it without risking the blades. Yet all of a sudden one day out it will come!
3) Landing Gear
Rubber wheels on the main gear are fine, there isn’t a lot of detail, and frankly nor is there in real life. The nose wheel however is a pain as it’s heavily recessed with tiny doors – the Flybe one almost looks like it doesn’t have a nose wheel at all, this Austrian version is quite good, but the nose wheel is very very delicate, so much so that I dread ever dropping one even a centimetre.
4) Tail fin and stabilisers
The whole assembly is very good, no real complaints. There’s a couple of paint leaks and red marks that shouldn’t be there but so small as to be impossible to see with the naked eye. Good enough for an 8 year old model.
5) Wings and underbody
Not vast amounts of detail but they aren’t really needed and what is there is more than adequate, without excessive paint. The hole is very tight for the stand, almost unusable without a huge amount of care. One slip and the wings are bent and propellers broken.
The colours are a good match, no complaints. I think its rather sad that only in the last few weeks they’ve decided to ditch the blue and just go for a red flash on the engines. Yet another red and white livery.
7) Overall score – we start at 10.
It’s a really nice model, I’d take off a point for the wobbly props and half for the red paint issues and half for the mould dent, but otherwise 8/10 isn’t bad for a model from 8 years past and I really like it, it’s an excellent addition to the RLSI regional routes services!