Virgin Atlantic A340-600 G-VGAS Phoenix 11073 March 2015

Virgin Atlantic A340-600 G-VGAS Phoenix 11073 March 2015

The stunning G-VGAS arriving at RLSI
The stunning G-VGAS arriving at RLSI

G-VGAS A340-642  “Varga Girl” Named after Alberto Vargas (a renowned Peruvian born pin-up artist, his unique style heavily imitated in the following years especially in World War 2 and afterwards), provided Virgin Atlantic with its iconic ‘flying lady’ that decorates the nose of their aircraft and the side of 744 G-VFAB. His drawings fetch millions of dollars these days but it was a unique style of beauty and glamour in an age where such imagery was still considered more than a little naughty.

Typical Varga Girl image
Typical Varga Girl image

The aircraft itself, a fine example of the A340-600 has had a relatively charmed life with only one incident when a toilet pump overheated and caused her to return to Heathrow. Leased from BBAM San Francisco she entered service on 10th March 2005 and would normally have excited service at ten years – however I’m led to believe the lease has been extended until 2019.

IMGP7699 - Version 2Equipped in the standard Virgin Atlantic three class configuration with 45 Upper Class, 28 Premium Economy and 233 Economy, she’s powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 556-61’s.

I’ve been looking forward to this model since it was first announced – it’s the first Virgin Atlantic model since G-VNEW where Phoenix finally got the colours right. I’ll save you the agony – they got it right again so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Finally colour consistency!

Aubergine lettering is correct and superbly applied
Aubergine lettering is correct and superbly applied

1) Fuselage

The colour is excellent and the aubergine for the billboard lettering is spot on. The overall detail, print and aerials are all very good. I can’t honestly say it’s excellent. The silver around the windows is a little bit, as the French would say, com si, com ça namely a little bit this and a little bit that. It’s not bad but it it just isn’t excellent. The comms dome I’m pleased to say, along with the aerials is fitted a lot better that on G-VNEW. However the paint on the aerials is a little thin. The main gripe is the red paint at the rear end. Where it comes over the fuselage it’s a little rough, lacking finesse. Overall the production qualities have slipped back – they are not bad, they just aren’t as good as Phoenix have been and can be.

G-VNAP behind, G-VGAS in front
G-VNAP behind, G-VGAS in front

2) Wings, Underbody & Landing Gear

The wings are well detailed, no excess paint and very neat. The port side one is not quite as well fitted as i might have liked, it’s very minor but its just not quite as good as it could be. The landing gear is generally excellent, full metal with rolling gear though none of the bogies tilt. The underbody graphic of the aubergine billboard lettering is excellent and the stand hole well sighted and fits the usual thin arm Gemini stand with ease.

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3) Engines

The colour of the red on these is lustrous and exactly as it should be. The shape and mould is excellent. What lets them down is the poorly applied silver paint on the intakes and the lack of paint on the inside of the nacelles. They are not catastrophically bad, I’m not saying that at all. What is true is that it’s rough, just not by any means first class.

Silver paint is far from being well applied
Silver paint is far from being well applied

The silver paint appears to have been applied while th red metallic was still wet and it as a result it hasn’t bonded well and the red has caused the silver to “disperse” slightly, a typical result of the paint beneath not having been allowed to dry. That type of paint typically takes far longer than many others as any model maker will tell you.

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4) Tail and stabilisers

The paint on the tail is overly thick, but thats the nature of the type of paint that gives you the wonderful correct, sparkling candy apple red. I’d rather have the correct colour any day! the fitment of the stabilisers is great from above but from underneath the paint line to the red looks a little off, but again it’s very hard to see with the naked eye.

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5) Nose detail

The flying lady image is rubbish. Its the worst I’ve ever seen on anything and has been done far better than this by everyone including Phoenix. The rest of the details really rather good and well above average.

Of all the aircraft to make the Varga Girl image poor to the point of awful, they had to do it on this one!
Of all the aircraft to make the Varga Girl image poor to the point of awful, they had to do it on this one!

6) Out of 10

The paint colour is superb, both for the special white pearlescent and candy apple red. The aubergine is spot on. The downside is the small details – the paint on the nacelle intakes is not good, the flying lady – the inspiration of Vargas for whom this aircraft is named, ironically poor.  The wing fitting poorly is a half point down, as is the flying lady graphic, the silver on the engines another quarter point. The score must therefore be 8.75/10 – I’d expected this to be 10/10 to be honest and I’m disappointed that while Phoenix have brilliantly got the colour right, a tiny little bit of patience and a little more attention would have made this perfect.

With G-VNEW it's a joy to see paint that actually matches and is at last the correct colour!!
With G-VNEW it’s a joy to see paint that actually matches and is at last the correct colour!!

That being said, it’s infinitely better than G-VNAP as models go in direct comparison, this is what that should have looked like, but as explained in that review, there are lots of reasons why it never did.  Overall this is an extremely good model, it looks excellent and with G-VNEW really does look good. Straight to the top of my A340’s collection and no mistake!

You can find the review of the 2011 A346 G-VNAP by Gemini here: G-VNAP

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