I’ve been meaning to get one of these for ages, but they were always more than I wanted to pay. Why? I was in San Francisco and watched the last Philippines 744 arrive on its last outbound flight to the city before retirement. The Photos were very poor because of the mist, but see her I did – along with the Cathay Pacific final 744 not long after. One of the UK retailers, Aviamart has decided that for family reasons they were quiting retail for the foreseeable future and offered 20% off so I pounced.
She was first delivered and registered in 1994 as N753PR and re-registered in 2009. Her last flight was on the 9th September 2014. Fitted with 18 First class, 38 business and 383 economy, none of which was considered a good example of its type.
The model is presented in the standard Gemini box, but with “In Commemoration of 21 Years of Service” 1993-2014 above the line image on the front of the box. Other than that you’d have no idea there was anything special about it.
In all honesty I find the livery painfully uninspired and plain, but somehow this model carries it off especially well. Talk about contradictions!
It’s not been two years since Philippine Airlines was allowed to return to the US and Europe after having been banned on safety grounds. For the most part this is a pretty safe fuselage but the white being so clean and simple shows up some nasty rough patches – now these are either poor mould finishes or dust that’s allowed to settle in the paint. It’s unusual for Gemini these days to let this sort of thing slip – recent models have been free of such things. This one though, is a little older.
Other than that the rest of it is very much a clean, neat, beautifully printed example of what can be achieved. In many ways the almost entirely white aircraft, only a few red ‘technical’ markings and the Philippine flag have any colour, demonstrates how well these things can be done more readily than something as complex as say, the Etihad cargo.
Take for example the RP-C7473 near the rear door, the quality of the print beneath it is amazingly good and actually legible (Model No B747-4F6 S N 27828). It’s above and to the right you can see the worst of the blistering in the upper fuselage.
The 2 aerials up and 1 below are also neatly placed and fixed. Despite the blistering it’s all otherwise very good indeed.
2)Wings and landing gear
First off the winglet detail is exceptional at this scale – how that sun was painted on so neatly I do not know but it’s actually quite exceptional, and looks great in side views.
The top and bottom of the wings themselves is very well done indeed. The lighter grey is a little over-glossed for my tastes but not the hideously obscuring over-paint that Phoenix seem so keen on. The worst part by far – on the whole model to be honest is that the white between the underbody grey and the wing root is not at all clever, looking quite rough. As 90% of the time it’s out of sight, it’s a transgression it can just get away with.
The cradle is generally well fitted, no see through gaps on the upper wing join and a sealed front, in fact even the rear is pretty tight and a very close fit. One of the best of late.
The landing gear seems to be spring loaded on the centre bogies – am I dreaming? The port side works far better that the starboard, but it’s mostly irrelevant. Really nice wheels, silver discs with good rubber-like tyres, all rotate and move as they should. The nose gear is just as good.
So many variants were available for 744’s – something both big manufacturers are trying to to curtail these days, bearing in mind the hideous development costs, but this is fitted with the 4x GE CF6-80C2B1F’s – these are spot on for accuracy and really neatly made and painted. My only issue as with all of this engines, is the fans. They are never silver, so why paint them that way? The intake rim may be, but fans are almost universally dark and titanium.
Totally issue free, neat and clean, superb.
5)Tail and stabilisers
Excellent. Anything less would have ruined this aircraft, because it’s the one dominating feature of the whole model. Beautifully executed.
7) Score and conclusion
She gets a -5 for the rather annoying blisters. Some of them are really tiny, but there are several. The set in front of the tail fin to the left are too visible to ignore. And -4 for the underbody paint issue = 91%.
So often they get so close to the magic 100, but not today. Gemini 744’s have always been pretty good, this shows that clearly. A simple livery, but overall an excellent model that won’t look out of place for another 5-10 years on most modern dioramas.