Turkish Airlines 777-300ER TC-JJU “San Francisco-Istanbul” Phoenix 11127 May 2015

Turkish Airlines 777-300ER TC-JJU “San Francisco-Istanbul” Phoenix 11127 May 2015

Finally the long awaited have arrived! This is the one I’ve been looking forward to joint equally with the Azul Brazilian Flag A330.

Turkish Airlines who seem to have avoided the massive criticism levelled at the ME3 despite operating very similar practices in Europe and the US, is rated as one of the worlds better airlines. It started to fly directly to SFO from Istanbul only in May this year and like Swiss and many others, went for a themed livery to mark the event.

Istanbul to San Francisco, Turkish Airlines 773ER
Istanbul to San Francisco, Turkish Airlines 773ER

Now we all know Phoenix have problems from time to time with parts remaining on their models. This one had its tail fin loose in the plastic carton on arrival. I despair of them sometimes. Gemini’s may be rubbish on occasion – less so of late to be fair – but only one has ever fallen apart out of the box (the Delta MD-90 from 2013  everything fell off, wings, tail, stabilisers). Things falling off a Phoenix are almost an accepted hazard of buying them. Just when you think it doesn’t happen any more and as if by magic, it does!

Operation: Broken Phoenix Massively annoying, way to expensive to be built this poorly, though easily fixed.
Operation: Broken Phoenix
Massively annoying, way to expensive to be built this poorly, though easily fixed.

This is also by all accounts an officially sanctioned Turkish Airlines product, the box is labelled with a numbered Turkish Airlines Hologram (in this case 07866) which I presume is the licence number.

1) Fuselage

A little explanation is due about the livery, the port side is Istanbul-San Francisco at the nose and a stylised San Francisco graphic at the rear.

Istanbul to SFO
Istanbul to SFO with deliberately hyped colours – it was either that or struggle to see them properly

The Starboard side is San Francisco – Istanbul with a graphic depicting Istanbul’s highlights.  I’ve been to both of these amazing cities many times and they have way more in common that might seem likely, not least of which both are sat on massive fault lines and have iconic bridges.

SFO to Istanbul
SFO to Istanbul

The graphics obviously have to meet on the fuselage spine, which is managed well.

The graphics meet on the spine. This is how washed -out the colours look in daylight.
The graphics meet on the spine. This is how washed -out the colours look in daylight.

The issue with the graphics, which use a rather dated dot-matrix printing method, is the total lack of vibrancy. They seem positively pastel in comparison to the exceptionally vivid high-colour real thing. The colours in real life really pop, but on the model they are at best mediocre. Now from a distance – say 2ft/600mm they really don’t look bad from a detail perspective. It’s the colour that is, quite literally lacklustre. Now before you say they don’t look that bad in the photos, the reason is simple, I’ve tinkered with the photos to try and give them some of the life they should have, mostly out of necessity because in daylight or flash they just looked washed out. As long as you are 2ft away and there’s no direct light they look reasonably OK.  I suppose the point is, they’re average. I don’t pay this kind of money for average.

Now aerials and domes. Three aerials up top, two aft one forward. They seem more refined, more recessed and fixed in. The massive dome is poor. It fits on one side and not at all on the other, looking like it needs a bucket of filler. I would, as I have said before, rather have nothing than this mediocre effort – either get it right or don’t bother.

The rearmost aerial underneath is correctly painted read as it’s the waste water de-icer.

2) Nose and forward graphics

Nothing wrong with this end of the aircraft. I know some people don’t like the Phoenix mould for the 777, but I have few problems with it – compare it to the massive variations in A380 and i’s nothing to worry about. Just don’t stare at that blister on top.

SFO-Istanbul
SFO-Istanbul, from this side the blister looks OK
Istanbul-SFO and look at that gappy roof mounted blob.
Istanbul-SFO and look at that gappy roof mounted blob from this side.

3) Engines

Standard GE’s but while the mould is good the silver rims are just rough on close up. While the rims looks good from a distance  and from the side, it’s a lot rougher looking than it should be at the very front edge. I actually think its been rubbing too much in the plastic cradle. Now compared to a few years ago, these are way better that we used to see, but when you raise standards as Phoenix did, then let them slide, it makes it all the more noticeable. We know Phoenix can do way better, the engines on the 787-9 prove it.

Too much rubbing in the plastic cradle?
Too much rubbing in the plastic cradle?

4) Wings and underbody

The underbody is the standard Turkish light grey, with the airlines logo emblazoned amidships. As usual with Phoenix the wings are overly glossy and over painted but generally pretty good. So much paint obscures most of the mould detail. The big issue is the appallingly small stand hole. I could only get the thin arm Gemini stand into it – with huge difficulty – after having used a small rasp to widen the hole. Just not good enough and an issue that plagues this batch of models, again!

The usual over-glossed wings but they are otherwise very good.
The usual over-glossed wings but they are otherwise very good.

5) Landing Gear

Wheels with tyres on metal gear and they all rotate. The nose gear is fixed neatly in place with rotating wheels. The bogies if anything are a tiny bit too loose, but it makes for more realism in flying/landing shots! Generally excellent.

Good gear!
Good gear!

6) Tail & stabilisers

Other than the fact the tail wasn’t fixed in on delivery it’s otherwise pretty good. The fuselage around the APU is painted sky blue as part of the graphics design.

Once fixed back in, quite good all-round.
Once fixed back in, quite good all-round.

7) Out of 10

The tail fail is -2 the standard score for anything that’s broken on delivery or a poorly fitted major component. The graphics are difficult, but I have to be honest, they don’t live up to expectations and they certainly don’t ‘pop’ like they do on the real thing so -1. The half fitted dome is also a -0.5. The final score is therefore a very disappointing 6.5/10. I have asked for and expect to receive some financial compensation for the tail issue, it just isn’t good enough. Now if the tail had been properly fixed the score would have been a much higher 8.5. It’s not a terrible model once you get past it’s flaws. But yet again, it is way to expensive to be only average no matter how much I might actually like it; much of which is my excessively sentimental love of San Francisco and the fascinating city of Istanbul.

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