Lufthansa 747-8i D-ABYT Retro Livery Gemini Jets GJDLH1479 Jan 2016

Any guess why I bought this, because I rarely do special liveries above A321 size? It’s quite simple. Rumor and then direct reports said that Gemini worked with Lufthansa for months on this model. Lufthansa wanted it right and they care about how they are represented. The initial idea was to have this as their 60th anniversary celebration livery when delivered in March 2015. That all got pushed to one side and forgotten in the terrible tragedy of the GermanWings pilot-induced disaster.

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A few years ago, one of my jobs was corporate brand guardian for a major German car maker. Anything and everything that required brand logos, liveries, print, models, T-shirts, luggage, showrooms, down to the badges and markings used on every car, everything, had to have my sign off. They expected perfection. Nothing less would do and for someone like me extracting perfection, enjoying perfection, seeing it, feeling it, appreciating it, well that matters. Until you experience that sublime moment, you’ll never get why it matters. Once you have, little is ever good enough. A perfect moment is a thrilling experience. When you know it cannot be any better, it’s unforgettable.

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This, my friends may be one such moment.

18th of the 19 747-830 Intercontinental’s Lufthansa cut it’s order too, 25 originally having been planned, the retro livery looks remarkable. Named Köln (more commonly as Cologne in English), after one of Germany’s most important cities, she was delivered on March 20th 2015. She’s the second D-ABYT, the first was a 742 from 1980 that as TF-ARM went from Air Atlanta-Icelandic to Malaysia and is stored at Kuala Lumpur at 35 years old!

Outfitted with the new Premium Economy product, she carries 8 First Class, 80 Business, 32 Premium Economy and 244 Economy, giving 364 passengers. Based in Frankfurt she tends to operate Beijing/Tokyo/Washington/Mexico City and Sao Paulo rotations.

She joins her older sister D-ABYC at RLSI.

1)Fuselage

None of the manufacturers who produce a 748 of either type have done a bad job. This one is excellent.

The livery is simple it seems but is far from it. There are four layers to the design, white at the top to the half way mark, a thick blue coach line which carries the main deck windows along it’s entire length, a mica-pearlescent silver-grey and then the plain mid grey, which extends over the wings, covering both surfaces, and the horizontal stabilizers.

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The layered livery is clearly visible here

The blue coach line matches the tail base blue color. The mica-pearl grey also covers the engines.

It is in fact, the mica-pearl that really makes this livery come to life in a surprising way. It adds a modernity and replaces the bare metal of the original, which is something  modern materials make unviable. It just so works, it surprised me how effective it was.

From an eyeball perspective this passes every test with ease, however it has to be said the blue coach line in places is uneven and some of it, very very small amounts it has to be emphasized, has leaked into the white, but you’d have to be looking for it to find it.

Visibly wrong is the rearmost aerial which has been put in upside down and is too vertical. The dome however, is actually really well fixed in and beautifully done – a lesson that Phoenix need to learn because they are really bad at getting that right.

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Overall the standards of paint, print, cleanliness (i.e. free from hairs, dust), are outstandingly good. The transition between the mica -grey and the mid grey is exemplary.

2)Wings and landing gear

I’ve been told from other recipients of this model that the nose gear is in backwards and the port side wing is slightly bent, but there are neither of those issues here. In fact the wings are perfect and the landing gear across the board, a very high standard. All of the bogies move and tilt very slightly, the grey paint is good, not excessively thick, the tyres are clean and lump free, and the only issue for some, but I’m not overly concerned, is the grey wheel color. That’s a personal choice thing. I prefer matt silver, but no way am I complaining about them. Some of the best Gemini have ever made.  The nose gear is excellent.

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The wings are excellent. The paint is a good quality, not excessively thick and detail is clearly visible above and below. The choice of a ‘silk’ finish type paint rather than a matt or gloss adds to the quality and realism.

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The joins are seamless, clean and give that quality look that takes it beyond just being an assembled metal model. Details like this really unify the whole thing for greater perceived realism & quality. These models are supposed to delight us, provide us with a warm glow inside, when we see we have paid for and obtained something excellent. It’s rare that they achieve this sort of standard.

3)Engines

The all-round detail is excellent, the mica-pearly silver-grey works brilliantly. Graphic detail is fist rate and the rims pass the eyeball test easily, but not quite so much the close up. Fan color really works too and you know how much I hate bad engines!

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So often these engines can be dust traps and poorly finished, it’s the first thing I look at. If the intake rims are poor the model almost always goes the same way. This time that hasn’t happened.

4)Nose detail

If this model had a real weakness it’s the port side of the nose. On close up the blue coach line looses much of it’s definition and the black nose cone isn’t even. The Star Alliance logo also looks a bit iffy. However, because the colours haven’t leaked into the white, the blurring that so often bedevils Phoenix models hasn’t happened, so they easily pass the eyeball test.

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Other small details are all well done and oddly enough the starboard side is finished better than the port.

5)Tail and stabilisers

Excellent, right the way down to the tiny APU exhaust. Only that aerial upside down and facing the wrong way irritates.

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6)Colours

With Lufthansa’s hand in the production approvals process, the colors are naturally outstanding. Just perfect. I never purchased the Phoenix version of this that came out months ago. And I’m glad. This is something else and from photos I’ve seen of the Phoenix, while a reasonable effort, it’s not a patch on this one, completely missing the grey mica and getting the mid-grey wrong, largely because they used bright-daylight photos to go from.

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7)Score and conclusions

-2 for the rear aerial because it’s too obvious to ignore and easily seen with the naked eye. Nothing else is visible on the core eyeball test. It’s a truly wonderful model in my opinion and vastly superior to the Phoenix version in terms of technical accuracy. Some things are worth waiting for, and this was. It was also worth its price.

98% is an outstanding score and richly deserved. So close to being perfect.

So, am I pleased? Too right. Is it perfect? No, not quite. However it got damned close and for that I congratulate Gemini. If these standards can be applied continuously, right across the board, on every model, this will be the best ever year for collectors of Gemini product.

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If you don’t already have it, have a fondness for Lufthansa and the 748, especially as it’s days are now clearly numbered, with production going from 1.3 to 1 per month in March and from 1 to 0.5 per month in September,  I’d recommend it whole heartedly. We won’t be seeing many more.

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