Korean Air Cargo 747-8F HL7610 Phoenix HL7610G (ground version)

This is one of two versions Phoenix made – the other was an inflight version. They’ve repeated the same for the upcoming 747-8i due shortly. Why this gets that treatment, I don’t know.

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I have to be honest I had no intention of buying it in 2012 and none now. Then it was offered up on AMSUK for a mere £22 less another 10% discount – so for £18.80 ($28.69), it was a no-brainer. Of course it being late 2012 issue there is one thing we can all assume – the aerials are going to fall out. Right out of the box, the top front leapt straight out of that hole! The rear one has miraculously stayed in.

I do like the 748F, it’s an amazing aircraft that really doesn’t have a home in the modern world. It isn’t terribly efficient, Boeing had more than a few rows with freighter owners Cathay Pacific and Cargolux over the substantial running costs that were well above what Boeing had quoted. Settlements were reached behind closed doors. There have been four cancellations already this year.

Korean Air Cargo 748F blasts through the fog on approach to RLSI over the River Leam
Korean Air Cargo 748F blasts through the fog on approach to RLSI over the River Leam

It’s enormous capacity is a challenge for anyone and BA for example, who operated three, found they were often 55% of capacity and broke their operating agreement with GSS to get out of them early . Freighters generally need to be around 70% to break even, never mind a profit. With the Chinese economy down, ever growing competition and no real jump in the US and European economies, cargo capacity grows and yet customers are harder to come by. It isn’t helped by a growing glut of old 744’s being ditched from passenger services and available for cheap conversion. Not that even that’s in demand at the moment.

Having this also stretches my 3 aircraft rule for non-core airlines – Korean has 4 with this and there is a 748i on the way.

So how does it fare?

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1)Fuselage

The Phoenix mould for the 748F is excellent, it’s a splendid looking aircraft with a degree of retro modern elegance only the 747 can offer. However, I have often been told that it looks like someone stuck new wings on an old 744 – I stress that came from an aviation ignorant and nobody sensible.  Yet I get their point, however inaccurate.

the hole where the aerial should be
the hole where the aerial should be

The first issue of course is the vanished aerial. I did try to put it back in, but it just wasn’t having it and after an hour I gave up.

The print and detail is excellent – this is far better printed and painted than some of the more recent versions – especially the 748F in Silkway livery from earlier this year reviewed HERE.

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The main issue I have with the detail is something that happened on the Korean Air Cargo 777F; the main cargo doors detail is so feint it’s almost invisible.

2)Wings and landing gear

The wings are superbly made but covered in the now traditional high-gloss detail obscuring paint Phoenix like to use. Under wing paint is so thick there is almost no visible detail at all, even though you know it’s there.

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The landing gear doors at least, are not made from Phoenix’s currently preferred rotting zinc mess, that has marred so many of its recent models.  The landing gear itself is OK, but one side isn’t actually flat to the ground when standing.

The slightly wonky landing gear. At least the weeks and tyres are still attached, a common fault in 2012
The slightly wonky landing gear. At least the weeks and tyres are still attached, a common fault in 2012

3)Engines

The four GeNex1B’s are all very neat, but the engine colour is not a match for the real thing. There is a degree of inconsistency in application of the paint inside the rim of the intakes, but it’s quite minor. There is a nice differentiation between the rim colour and the fan blades colour, something of late that seems to have been forgotten on many new models.

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4) Nose detail

It all looks really neat and precise until you look under the nose dome and find that, as now, Phoenix seem to have managed to mess the paint up – the silver goes thin and the blue beneath shows up clearly. It’s quite the most bizarre thing. How do they, as manufacturers who specialise – note the word specialise – in manufacturing models like this, get it wrong so often? They make so many, they should be expert at it by now. You’d think.

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You can see the nose paint issue clearly
You can see the nose paint issue clearly

5)Tail and stabilisers

In general exceptionally well made and assembled.

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6)Colour

This isn’t the same colour as the Witty A380, but more disturbing, it’s not even the same colour as the Phoenix KAC 777F. It’s at least 2 shades darker that that and none of these match the Gemini 773ER. It’s not hard guys, just look up the colour with Korean Air and their agencies, it’s all really easy to find if you can be bothered.  It isn’t just the blue either, the reds, underbodies and greys of the engines, not one is the same as any other.

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There's no colour match here
There’s no colour match here

7)Score and conclusions

-3 for the aerial, -3 for the mildly dodgy main gear, -10 for the various colour fails, -3 for the nose. So 81%.

This model was made just before Phoenix hit their peak in 2013-2014 and just before the big decline in overall standards began – and still continues. The score is pretty much what I’d expect for the period. Oddly enough it was the continuously improving quality of models like this that turned me more and more to Phoenix back then. It’s fallen off a cliff since. However they have an opportunity to impress with G-VFAR and G-ZBKA when they arrive in early October. In the meantime in transit at the moment is an Asiana A380 and a Cargolux 748F. And an Aeroclassics TAP A321 if memory serves me right!

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