Ever wondered why you bought a specific model? I was wondering when I got this. It was a spur of the moment thing caused by a news headline that Thai were now not retiring there 744’s as fuel costs have dropped so dramatically they now, at least for the next couple of years, make economic sense again. With Thai’s losses reaching record depths I’m not so sure they’ll be around that long.
I know many are not exuberant about the Phoenix 744 mould. It does have a certain oddness to it. However it is what it is and Gemini never make these models so what’s to do? It will have to be the last Thai for a while as the two passenger and one cargo aircraft per non-core airline at RLSI rule, has been broken.
This aircraft was delivered in 1997, a 747-4D7 direct to Thai. She’s named ‘Sirisobhakya’ and carries 10F, 40C and 325Y, powered by GE CF6-80C2B1F’s. The registration is an historic one, having been used on an A300 before this and a DC4 before that.
Just as an aside, Thailand (Siam as it was then known), was the only country in SE Asia never colonised by The Great Powers other than a brief forced occupation by the Japanese in World War 2.
Lets not dwell on the slightly odd shape, that’s a given. However it has to be said that this is actually a very good model. The paint and detail is excellent. Even the difficult to manage aft section with the three colour band is really well done. Mildly astonished as I am, it’s true.
Not only that but all of the aerials are in place and – this is something Gemini don’t do but to their credit Phoenix do, the two below are actually painted red. Now it’s true they are actually red and white but they made the effort on the waste water de-icing heaters.
2)Wings and landing gear
The wings on delivery, and until after I took the photos, bend down at the end segment from the outboard engines, just a little too much. It gives the model a look one of those sea birds that sticks its wings out and drags them just above the ground to dry them off. Now post photography a little pressure carefully applied easily puts them into the right position. This is sadly something that happens regularly with Phoenix models, especially the A330/343’s, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it like this on a 744. I think its the way the wings are forced into the slots at the factory where this happens.
Other than that the inherent benefits of the wings being slotted in creates a far better impression than even the very best of the Gemini 744’s.
Landing gear hasn’t been a Phoenix strong point of late as you well know, some of it’s been truly atrocious. However other than a few lumpy tyres, this set is considerably better with none of the recent faults. They seem to use the same spring-loaded rear main gear as Gemini and all of the wheels rotate, including the nose gear, which before a photographic incident, was the best I’ve ever seen installed on a Phoenix.
As another aside, I do really try to get as many different images as I can. It’s not easy to think up new ways of doing what is essentially the same thing, and this lead to one rather unfortunate incident with this model. To get real sky backgrounds I have to open the windows (its around 2 centigrade or 39F on the day in question and blowing a gale).
The runway was in its usual position propped up on the back of chair and the window frame. Put it this way, the wind took it. The runway collapsed, the plane dived nose first down the back of a radiator. And yet despite the potential for damage, only the nose gear clean broke off and a tiny scratch on the nose paint you can’t even see! The gear was so clean a break it went back on with ease. I won’t mention the flying A320 and my amazement at having caught it undamaged, mid air.
The GE CF6’s are excellent, even the paint on the blades and rims is first rate. If they can do it on these why not on the BA 787-9? You have to wonder what goes on in these factories.
4) Nose detail
No issues, one of the best finishes on a Phoenix I’ve seen in a while.
5) Tail detail
Phoenix seem to like their vertical stabilisers slightly proud of the rear and it doesn’t really work. Other than that the tail section is first rate.
The paint on this is less metallic, with a closer-to-the real thing, matt like but bright finish. Hard to explain, but it works and having been in the presence of several Thai 744’s at Heathrow up close, it’s far better than on some of the other Phoenix productions.
7) Score and conclusions
-4 for the tail fit, -6 for the wing bends, but other than that, the is one very good Phoenix model, far better than we have seen of late. The score is 90% and that just qualifies it for entry into MOTY 2015. More to the point it’s a Phoenix and it scored 90%! However, as my gran would say, “don’t count your chickens ’till their hatched”. One model, does not the quality improvement all round make, let’s wait and see what happens when the next lot arrive in a couple of weeks.
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