Brussels Airlines BAe146 OO-DJV Gemini Jets GJDAT764 2007

I do have a fondness for these, the last aircraft of the UK’s solo domestic aviation industry. Innovative, with their four tiny jet engines, designed to give short runways an opportunity to compete in regional markets for airlines that wanted, in this case up to 85 seats, flown quickly to remoter areas.

Sadly it didn’t really work out like that. Four engines have proved fast but inefficient, they are not as relaible as many would have liked (I personally suffered three serious engine incidents during a three year, 58 flight relationship with the British Aerospace BAe146 during 2006-2008).

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They were often very cramped – I had to endure multiple complaints from adults who felt like they were strapped into a ‘toy plane’ with nowhere to go. And we frequently only had 60 of the 85 seats filled as the vast majority of the passengers were male and the weight issue prevented  a full load.

However there were restrictions on the airport at Manching in Bavaria at the time and despite it’s NATO presence, greatly reduced, and the huge runways, they didn’t like larger aircraft despite a small, ‘by appointment only’ Civil Terminal. On one occasion we were just landing as a pair of Luftwaffe Tornado’s shot overhead not 500 feet above us. I heard the pilot screaming blue murder at the Air Traffic Controller but admit I found it all a bit exciting! Manching was full of AWACS aircraft, one one occasion we parked next to the the UK RAE electronic warfare BAC-111 test plane. There was also a vast hangar literally stuffed full of F-4 Phantom-II’s. I digress however…

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The BAe146 is a still in use with several European airlines though not for long. SWISS still operates 16 of the RJ100 version (this model is the RJ85) and Brussels Airlines still 12 RJ100’s. At peak Brussels operated 14 RJ85’s alongside them. SWISS operated as many as 24 100’s and 4 85’s. Flybe used them for a while but the economics weighed heavily, not just in fuel, they are notoriously expensive to maintain.  Titan used them out of Stansted for a few years (and these were the ones I frequented), but no longer. TNT operate 7 freight versions and Iran has managed to keep  a fair number flying despite sanctions.

They’re often sought after in remoter parts of the world second hand – Australia, Canada, in remote areas where short runways and four engines is a bonus. Either way their days are numbered now with most in excess of 17 years old.

Why did I want one of these? Because both the SWISS (though not so much of late) and the Brussels versions fly in and out of BHX, especially in the quieter Northern Winter months and I know that every time I see one it could always be the last. Another piece of aviation history slipping away.

They do have one really interesting quirk – the air brakes on the tail cone. These pop open (imagine your hands closed facing each other and open them outwards from the wrist), which if you don’t know about it is an odd thing to see.

So to the model…

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1)Fuselage

This particular aircraft carries some rock festival decals from July 2007 at the nose, Rock Werchter 2007, but they are so tiny at this scale you can only see them if you really look at the model. They are well done on the port side but not quite as good on the starboard. The two tone livery – a sort of very light pale grey at the bottom half and white at the top is well applied.

The model does (and this still happens even now on Gemini Dash-8’s), have an annoying tendency to tip backwards. Clearly there is a tail weight issue, though I’ve got three others and they don’t suffer from it.

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2)Wings and landing gear

The wings are really neat but too silvered and to thick on the paint. OK this is 2007 I know, but even for then this is quite heavy weight gloss and the silver is over bright by a wide margin.

Landing gear is not this time of course, part of the wings,  but it is well done and all of it works. Even the tiny nose tyre rolls, when you can get it to stay on the ground!

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3)Engines

The tiny Avco Lycoming LY LF507-1F’s are faithful reproduced and very well executed.

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4) Nose detail

For the size of model and it’s age there’s no complaints. as good as anything you would see now.

5)Tail detail

The tail is well done but seems a tad over-painted which contributes to its deviant desire to tip over!

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6)Colours

No issues.

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7)Score and conclusions

The tilt, heavy paint, over silvered detail, brings it down by  -4 each so 88%. For it’s age it’s extremely good. That tilt though is massively annoying, unless it’s facing down a slope it just will not stay nose down! It cost me £9.99 though so what is there to complain about?

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