Widerøe is a Norwegian regional airline founded back in 1934. The company is now owned by SAS. It appears that while it’s perfectly OK for SAS to refuse to use an aircraft it deemed unsafe and withdrew overnight in 2007, on safety grounds, after yet another accident and collapsed landing gear, it was perfectly alright for it’s subsidiary to use them and even buy newer ones. This one was delivered new in 2010. Widerøe’s regional flights takes it all over Norway, where it’s a major force, Copenhagen (Denmark), and Goteborg (Sweden), as well as Newcastle and Aberdeen in the UK, where it’s strong in the Norway-UK North Sea oil and gas field markets.
You probably know I hate the Dash-8. I’ve had more flights on these than any other single aircraft – I worked out from my diary that over the last 15 years it totals 298, backwards and forwards to Toulouse. It’s a chicken shed on wings. Badly made, cheap interiors, unreliable ventilation, atrocious air conditioning – you either get heatstroke or hyperthermia! Never mind that it has one of the worst civil aircraft incident ratings of any modern aircraft. Pilots generally are not fond of them. Getting one to stop has been described as, “requiring every ounce of weight and muscle, pumping the break pedal like there was no tomorrow”.
So why did I buy this one? It was cheap £14 ($21.35US), Airspotters.com were doing a superbly low price (along with the Aeroflot MD-11F), on a model that I gather didn’t sell very well anywhere. How many people had even heard of Widerøe outside of Northern Europe? Kudos though, to Gemini for producing it, something different from a little served area of the world. It was one of those models I wanted, but would never pay full price for.
So how does it do as a model? This is at least the second Dash-8 this year from GJ, having given us the FlyBe new purple livery early on.
The mould is fine, with lots of nice little detail, easily observed to a small degree. My biggest issue is the amount of dust in the paint and scratches on the fuselage from the packaging. They are all very small, but not invisible.
The twin green colours are also not very precise, but again, unless you’re looking really hard, well you won’t really notice.
It has the annoying habit of tipping over backwards and is incredibly tail heavy.
2) Wings and landing gear
The wings are push in overheads carrying the engines and main gear as a unit. The moulds are perfectly fine but the white paint is way to thick obscuring detail, the black leading edge would at best be described as scrappy, with far too many flecks of white showing through. It actually looks again, like the black was applied either from a thin mix or most likely a combination of that and the white still being tacky beneath making tiny spots come through. The propellers and the black markings on the engine intake show the same issue.
The landing gear has paint overlap on it from the green doors, and while they don’t look good in magnification, they’re perfectly passable to the naked eye. The nose gear is not quite right, being pushed too far in – this has happened on previous versions (the Luxair and newest FlyBe are fine, the old FlyBe and this one not so).
They’re basically part of the wing mould so it’s fine as shape goes. The 6 blade propellers are well fixed in while still turning, they’ve been a issue in the past, falling out far too easily, but these seem OK. The little yellow flash at the tips of the blades is somewhat variable in consistency, having been applied too thinly and with the black still wet under it. Some tips it looks OK, others you wouldn’t know it was even there.
4) Nose detail
Absolutely excellent and finely detailed. No complaints.
5) Tail detail
No issues, neatly painted just a bit too much dust in the paint.
First rate, somewhere Gemini excels when they colours are flat and easily referenced.
7) Score and conclusion
In all honesty, despite my observations, this is one small model and the only really observable detrimental issue is actually that over-recessed nose gear. It’s way to low to the ground even for a Dash-8, yes the difference is no more than a millimetre – but at 1:400 thats 400mm/16″ in the real world and you might not think 16″ makes a difference, but we all know it does. It also doesn’t help that it keeps tipping backwards at the slightest excuse.
So -10 for the nose gear because it doesn’t matter from however far away you look at it, it looks wrong. And -10 for the weight issue. I suspect the nose was pushed in too far because of the tail, in an effort to make it sit forward.
So 80%. Not brilliant, but not that bad either. For the price paid it’s more than acceptable. It’s original retail was some 60% higher. At that rate I just wouldn’t have paid that much for it. Like all these things, you make a choice and pay. If it’s really unacceptable, it goes back. This model is well above that level.
The next three weeks:
Any day now we should be seeing a major set of arrivals from Gemini, a few older bargains from Phoenix, a new Aeroclassics, JC Wings and so on! 12 are lined up all in all for the next few weeks. Next week – when I suspect they all arrive – I will be in Amsterdam. We’ve got a tour of Amsterdam Schipol airport (they actually do an organised bus tour) on the Friday but no time to visit AMS. If we did I’d only spend a fortune and not be allowed it in my hand luggage! So expect a couple of reviews this week, what I get time to post next week and then a raft of them the week after, which I’ll be posting from San Francisco.