This aircraft was delivered new to Asiana in 1992 and was one of 61 Combi’s (744M) built. These had a large port side rear cargo loading door and a cabin that could be split to carry passengers at the front and cargo at the back, though this rarely happened in practice. Most operators (KLM being the largest) chose to operate them as either one or the other, taking out the flexible interiors and putting them back as needed. Overall the 744M wasn’t a particularly successful solution, though it clearly had its market. A good idea that just didn’t work out in practice very well.
Eventually with this aircraft Asiana chose to simply stop operating it as passenger and turned it over to full cargo in 2007. She was flown to Tel Aviv where Israel Aircraft industries converted her to a full Boeing Conversion Freighter. This involved refrigeration, air con, and a more comprehensive cargo deck roller system on reinforced floors.
Why did I want it? First off it was a Witty, it wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t hideously expensive either. There are very few Witty around these days boxed new, so I thought it worth a go, especially as the Phoenix A330 and A380 were less than brilliant, in fact awful in the A330’s case (though it was replaced).
Well be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
Apollo and Witty were the same company. Yet they had two different 744 moulds, one a cradle and one an insert wing type. Mostly Apollo used the cradle, but not always, and vice-versa.
This one is an inserted wing type. As fuselage moulds go, it’s horrible. The top deck roof line dips down in the middle, quite noticeably so it looks like a double hump. Now you cannot always instantly see it unless you look at it side on, then it screams out but other wise it’s not very noticeable. While it’s likely anyone who just glanced at it would never see it, that doesn’t make it less annoying!
The print and finish is to Witty’s usual high standards, but ironic as it may seem this has worked to the model’s overall detriment.
The conversion to full freighter usually means the entire passenger window set and doors are basically sealed over inside, but you can just about make them out as frames. This has them printed in a way that makes them unnaturally conspicuous and you’d b forgiven for thinking it was a passenger plane even from some distance away. Yes the windows are frames only, and not the usual grey-black, but they are still far too obvious.
2) Wings and landing gear
The wings themselves are excellent, though the wing tip on one side was slightly out of kilter and had to be gently straightened. The main issue is that the wings just don’t quite slot in as far as they should, and we all know that this is either a fuselage poor mould issue inside, or the slot-in ends are poorly moulded and just don’t fit.
Now it’s not the epic fail we’ve seen on Phoenix models where the wings are so bad they actually fall out, but it’s not the sort of thing I expected from Witty.
The landing gear is neatly executed, but still only tyres on spigots. OK this is 2012 and that was still fairly common, but again, for a premium expensive brand – and Witty was very much that, not so good.
The correct 4x GE CF6-80C2B1F’s but despite their wonderful finish and neatness, Witty/Apollo seemed to hanker after painting the blades bright silver on 744’s (though oddly, they never did this often on other model types).
4) Nose detail
Flight deck is excellent but there is no sign of the radar dome detail.
5) Tail and stabilisers
All excellent with no complaints from me.
The correct colour and definitions all round. First class.
7) Score and conclusions
Mould is a -10, -8 for the wings, -2 for the lack of nose detail, -6 for the over-detail on the fuselage. 74%
Of the various Witty’s I’ve had this is probably the worst, but if you just accept it for what it is, then really only the wings and that double-hump are of any consequence. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. To be honest what I like least of all because they notice so much is the all too obvious window detail.
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