Sometimes I see an unusual livery and it intrigues me. This ended up being a mere £12 (US$17) on eBay so there’s little to complain about in terms of value for money.
Now I’m not going to do the usual review of this because the manufacturer, Sky400 is long gone – in fact I can’t even remember anyone selling them it’s been that long. There were two versions of this model, one of which, a handful of which were made, had the white body painted gold for some reason.
This particular aircraft was one of Boeing’s last purpose built 744 freighters. Officially designated a 747-4EVFER she was built for and supplied to Jade Cargo International. They were the first cargo line in China with part foreign ownership and based in Shenzhen. The airline was owned 51% by Shenzhen Airlines and 25% by Lufthansa Cargo and the rest a German investment company.
Initially business was good but come the recession and the collapse in international cargo volumes and prices in 2009-2011, the airline was in trouble, eventually shutting down in 2012 as the cargo marked sagged further – something that while it looked promising in the first half of 2015 has since gone backwards again. It has yet to recover its 2006 volumes.
The aircraft was handed back to its lessor AWAS, who quickly placed it with SouthernAir as N558CL, but they gave her up on 3rd Dec 2014 and she was stored until 27th May 2015 when (with a short lived pick up in Cargo volumes looking promising), Cargolux took her on as LX-JCV. She’s painted white with just a Cargolux logo on the tail and a wording at the nose, but not a full Cargolux livery, suggesting she’s on a short term flexible lease.
The mould is alright, it’s no great shakes. The wings are slightly odd, with one side being slightly lower than the other despite using the cradle system. The print is rough in places on close examination and there is visible glue in a few too many places. The landing gear is at best primitive black tyres on spigots.
It does however have a sort of antique charm about it. From the usual observable distance it’s quite passable, but if it had been much more expensive and new, it would have been an instant return, it’s well below what we would consider acceptable now, even though some manufacturers are still trying to pass this standard off from time to time.
This is what I like about some of these cheap older models that crop up. You pay your money and take a chance. Sometimes like this, you get one thats interesting and passable and where would we be without some variation?