As the days pass and still no delivery from Gemini or Phoenix has hit the retailers (though Phoenix have at last arrived and should be here in the next two-three days), I thought I’d have a look at some of the BA models that come and go from RLSI.
I’ve cut BA’s numbers back, as much because a) I’ve fallen out of love with BA as an airline. They really just aren’t what they used to be in terms of care and service, no matter what level you fly at and b) there were several duplicated models – not exact duplicates, just 4 744’s was a bit excessive, 3 772’s unnecessary and so on down the line. This led to some major cutbacks without loosing variety and provided space for some of the other Oneworld airlines and Virgin Atlantic to grow at RLSI.
So this is now what’s left, a fairly representative cover of the Union Flag livery. Soon to be joined by the Gemini A320 with Sharklets.
G-GBTA is one of the oldest aircraft in BA use, still operating out of Gatwick despite her 22 years, although it has to be said replacement is imminent, BA have disposed of 10 737-400’s in the last 12 months and the remaining 9 are being replaced by old but newer A320’s purchased on the cheap and refitted (the G-GAT* series). As models go its alright, the blue to white line and detail isn’t stunning, typical Gemini. I keep it because I’ve flown on her to Austria a couple of times.
G-BPEK Strictly not British Airways, but its French operation, OpenSkies operating out of Paris Orly and flying to Newark in an all business configuration. One of BA’s old 757 fleet (the rest were either sold to Tui/Thomson and others and the very oldest to Victorville for scrap). I like the livery, despite it’s simplicity and I like having it compete with La Compagnie at RLSI.
A321-231 I’m particularly fond of A321’s my favourite in the series. I had to have this one as we flew back from Rome on it – accompanied by the preserved arm of St Francis of Assisi and a Vatican Ambassador. The relic was in an armoured case and had its own row of seats! It was off to Australia via Heathrow, the first time anything like that had ever been there. The model is not too bad to be honest, probably one of the better ones from that year. BA are also hot on brand and image conscious so Gemini doing a bad BA model is not in their interests or BA may withhold permission in future.
G-EUHH One of JC Wings less wonderful models, don’t spend too much time looking at that blue paint leaking into the white now! A fairly recent BA A320, soon to be sporting sharklets. Flew her to Geneva in 2014.
A319-131 G-EUOH Often known as “The Dove From Above” (from a British comedy quiz show) BA painted three aircraft into this scheme – I have a photo somewhere of all of them at T5 – for the 2012 Olympics. Meant to represent the doves of peace. They’re still in the livery at present but at least two now have partly blue engine coverings from part swops, which looks a bit odd. The G-EU** series are currently being fitted with sharklets. It’s a really neat little model o be honest, one of my favourites but that livery won’t be around for long now. Flew to Glasgow on it once just after it was painted into Dove livery.
Saab 340B G-LGNB – not only the smallest aircraft BA operated but the smallest 1:400 in my collection. BA don’t own the aircraft now but regularly employ it on low volume/off peak routes leased in from it’s current owners, usually into and out of London City. You can find a full review of it here: Saab 340B G-LGNB
ATR-72-200 G-BWTL BA was never fond of turbo-props and only operated this one for 7 years 1995-2002. However she makes it into the collection parameters by having a current or near-current post 1999 livery. It’s not a very good model. The first one the propellers fell out and the wheels dropped off – it got sent back and I had a replacement. The propellers had to be glued in after both fell out on that too! Other than that Gemini are pretty good with smaller aircraft – except the top of the tail paint. After 11 re-registrations she’s current;y owned by Regional Air Lines.
G-ZBAU BAe Avro RJ-100 This a Jet-X 1:400 and has no stand hole, but its a superb little aircraft and a good model. BA found them useful but expensive to run and unreliable, and frankly they are cramped. I had to lease a few of these for events in the past and 6o men on one is more than a little “tight”. Out of four flights three had technical issues, including one where we had to turn back to Stanstead when an engine died. Still love the design. Now in Australia owned by ironically, JETEX.
There are too few of this aircraft model made – G-LYCF is a Herpa E170 and used by BA Cityline from London City to Edinburgh and Amsterdam mostly. Having flown on her I find them a bit noisy but very smooth flyers, it’s a nice little aircraft but as a model, its Herpa – so chronically overpriced an not actually that good. The engine cowling paint is hideously poor and the tail had to be glued in because it wasn’t and appeared to be falling out. Once you get past that she’s OK! As with all Herpa she has no stand hole. I always find that a bit disappointing.
767-336 G-BNWD by Gemini. This is possibly the most sought after of all BA models – it’s very rare and very expensive when they do come available. I paid nearly £50 ($75US) for this after three years of eBay battles to get one that didn’t head off in to the pricing stratosphere! I’ve seen them go for over twice the amount I paid in bidding frenzies! In fact I haven’t seen another on eBay in nearly a year. Rolls Royce equipped with RB-211’s they are very noisy and this example I flew on to Istanbul in 2008 and to Rome in 2012. She was un-refurbished and was classified as a long haul aircraft but they have often been used on domestic peak time routes. Withdrawn from service in July 2014 and flown to Victorville for scrap as 787-8’s became available. BA never fitted winglets to these as the wing frame and engine type couldn’t cope with them without additional cost. At the time the 787-8 was due to replace them 5 years earlier than it did so it wasn’t considered cost effective. All will be replaced by 2017-18. As a model, it’s one of Gemini’s best from the 2008 period, it really is nice, a quality example.
I did have three BA 772’s but I find them so dull I got rid of 2 and kept just G-YMMO. Oddly while the 767 is worth a great deal, the 772’s go for a few dollars. This one was just £9 ($14.50US). Will stay in BA service until they retire her, some 5-6 years from now. as a model, really quite good, better that the earlier G-YMMA from 2001 which had the split tail mould.
777-336 G-STBA BA have leased 12 of these for 10 years to cover the gaps in fleet deployment due to the delay over the 787-8/10’s they ordered and the upcoming retirement of the 744 fleets older aircraft. This was the first and is very much proof that Gemini employ different standards to some airlines models than they do others. Lufthansa, BA, Emirates, American & United seem to get special treatment and this is a fine example of a good Gemini in a sea of mediocrity produced at the time (2012). One of my favourite 773’s the livery works well on it. By G-STBC BA had started deploying the crest again, but G-STBA & B remain as the model for now.
747-436 G-CIVP by Gemini. This is my favourite BA model. The detail is excellent and she’s one of the best Gemini BA’s by some margin. Right down to the engine detail. G-CIVP is one of the series fitted with middle tanks and the premium economy seating behind business and in front of economy. Flew her back from San Francisco in 2011. Likely to remain in service until 2020-23 and so will…
G-CIVY. I had to have this one, flew to San Francisco on her in 2012 (and back on G-CIVJ, the last time I ever flew BA long-haul, it was a terrible flight, exploding food trays, accidental overhead deployment of the masks, just freakish and the crew couldn’t give a monkeys uncle about anything). She has no mid tanks and has PE between First and Business right behind Door 1. Unless you’re flying First Class its the only time you’ll get asked to go left to your seat on a BA 744! The model is lacking the same level of detail as G-CIVP, why I don’t know, but there we are. She used to have G-CIVX and Z to partner with but they’ve been sold off.
787-8 G-BDRM with several other Gemini models was produced back when everyone thought they were going to get their Dreamliners by 2010. I’ve had her since and she remains the only 787-8 in BA colours. If they make G-ZBJC I’ll buy it as it’ll have my initials! Sad but really it’s the only reason I would. As a model it’s really quite good. So good it was the reason I chose not to buy the two ‘real’ aircraft JA & JB when they came out.
The only examples of the 748F BA went for (I always thought it was telling that BA never bought the 748i). These were badged Gemini but were in fact Phoenix moulds. BA paid Global Supply Systems at Stansted to operate G-GSSD, E & F but with the cargo market in Europe in free-fall and over capacity world wide, BA chose to cut the cargo market altogether and handed the aircraft back to GSS in April 2014. All three had models made of them, and they are my favourite 748F’s along with the Cargolux. Other than some minor quality issues (rear roof aerial vanishing), it’s a good model.
It’s no secret I love A380’s. I was one of the several thousand people who went to Manston Airport (now closed) back in July 2013 when BA used the airport for training. It’s first arrival day was something special and no mistake. I had no idea so many people would be there, it was really rather awesome. Sadly the model isn’t. The Gemini mould is really the poorest of all those that have been released (the Phoenix mould as I proved in my A380 review: Who Makes The Best A380? is the best). However its quality is other wise pretty good, though the wheels are not wonderful.
I often forget Concorde, the Schuco-Gemini version of G-BOAC. I keep her as a museum piece on the edge of RLSI. I had the great sadness of flying on one of those round- the bay of Biscay at supersonic flights, only two weeks later to be driving back from Switzerland and witness the CDG crash. Few things ever shook me as much as that did, a tale for another time.