American Airlines 757-223 N185AN Gemini Jets GJAAL1464 April 2015
N185AN was the first 757 painted into the new livery. She’s a 2001 aircraft fitted with the very powerful if slightly dated even at the time, RR RB211’s which give it a pretty poor noise curve – something that’s becoming increasingly important in airports round the world, especially in the UK and Germany where vast hubs like Heathrow and Frankfurt have densely populated neighbourhoods. AA and United fly a surprising number of 757’s into Heathrow and both will now be operating from BHX using 757-200s’s, along with Edinburgh. Wether the market can sustain two 752 flights to and from BHX to JFK every day, I’m not so sure.
She had the winglets fitted in 2009 and the current configuration is business 16 seats and 166 economy for 182 total. Compare that to La Compagnie’s 74 total!
The Fuselage is an old mould and no effort has been made in updating it. It has cradle fit wings. The nose is not my ideal choice for a 757 but otherwise as moulds go it’s passable. There is almost no difference between this one and the Phoenix one, I’ve looked at them for an age.
Having said that it’s a pretty good effort and a great deal better than the truly vile glue infested, orange peel paint covered D-ABOJ Condor 753w that has to rank as the worst model of 2014. The Gemini and Phoenix 757 are so identical that even the winglets match and the two stand at exactly the same height (against the La Compagnie).
Gemini’s print quality and detail is superb. This is way better than say the AA 738 from 2013. It’s starting to look like a standard quality improvement across the board and about time. The print is also noticeable on the fuselage rear end where the red and white wrap of the flag livery comes round, it’s excellent.
The real thing has several prominent aerials and a very noticeable wi-fi comms system dome. No effort has been made to replicate these short of a painted white patch on the spine forward. It’s a pity as against the aerial festooned AA A321 for example, it looks naked.
2) Wings, Underbody & Landing Gear
This is a cradle system mould, one that as 757’s drift out of service I suspect like Phoenix, Gemini are disinclined to invest in. However a great deal more effort has been made with this that the Phoenix La Compagnie version. The wing assembly is a very tight fit and while it has gaps, they are virtually non-existent which is really proof that the older wing moulds have either been replaced or some process introduced to improve QC. If you’re going to use these cradles this is the way it should be done at all times, it’s actually the best one I’ve ever seen fitted to anything. However it is still flawed if only in a tiny way; if you hold it up to the light you can see from one side out of the other. Does it matter? Not much no. Why? Because you’ve got to physically look at it and find it, unlike some models where you can just see it without trying! And the gap is so tiny it verges on nitpicking for the sake of it.
The landing gear is metal, the tyres roll then seem to stop but are decent quality. The nose gear is nicely done and the wheel rotates, though it won’t be going far if the main gear sticks. I still think the wheels could be wheels with tyres rather than tyres on spigots though.
The hole for the stand is more than adequate too, something that remains important to many of us.
The best part about these wings that leaves it head and shoulders above the older versions and the Phoenix is that the detail and print level are exceptionally neat and very fine. No over-painted detail-obscuring layers of paint, just quality through and through, Gemini should be commended for a positive improvement and excellent results.
Rolls Royce RB211-535E4B’s power this and they are probably the weakest part of the model in quality terms, but we are talking weak in a way that is compared to the high standards that otherwise apply to this model. The way the paint has been applied looks rather ‘brushy’, with distinct lines in the paint round the nacelle. However it passes the eyeball test and the print detail is excellent. Even the intake and fan colour is a good fit and the intake paint is spot on.
4) Tail and stabilisers
The fitment of the stabilisers is excellent and the detail superb. The tail fin with its vast flag livery is outstandingly well applied and looks first rate.
5) Nose detail
The printed detail, including the flight deck is excellent, fine detail abounds and easily passes the eyeball test.
On its own you’d think this was a perfectly OK colour, the famous Cool Grey 3C derived from Audi cars. And so it might be, except, well it’s not the same as the 788 or the recent 772 which are both different again but much closer than the original AA 773/A321/738 trio. This is not an easy colour to match, it’s very dependent on base coat and I suspect that as part of the detail enhancement a base coat isn’t used or is exceptionally thin. That means it’s down to the base metal and its pre-paint colour and that can vary from shiny to quite matt and even dark grey. Is it spot on? No it isn’t. Is it so bad as to be annoying when displayed with the others? That’s down to you to decide. As I said in this article, Gemini, please pick a colour – and this time stick with it.
7) Out of 10
Unless American gets a new 773 in the more current colour, it will be the last AA new livery I buy until the A359 enters the collection and thats a while off. In the meantime, the only thing I am scoring down is the inconsistent colour and because it’s close, but not the same, only by 0.5 points. This is by Gemini standards a vastly improved model and the fact that it’s so good bodes well for future purchases. I congratulate Gemini on a job very well done. It’s not perfect but it’s a refreshing, substantial – even vast improvement, over the disappointing mediocrity that’s come out of those factories in the not distant past. 9.5/10.