Nippon Cargo 747-8KZF JA13KZ Gemini Jets GJNCA1217 2012

It might say Gemini on the box and under the fuselage, but I don’t believe any of these early 748F models were made by them or JCW. They have all the hallmarks of Phoenix. Later models certainly began to look different in terms of gear and so on, but the basic mould looks identical to me.

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I know it should be identical, after all it’s the same aircraft, but seeing as they both turned out two aircraft models for the A350 that barely resemble the A350 never mind each others version of it, who knows except them and they for sure, won’t be saying anything. Keeping  us in the dark as to what goes on behind the scenes, is global industry practice no matter what the product.

This model is a 2012, and at the time, Gemini were going through their worst production and quality patch ever. When these 748F’s came out they looked quality wise, like they’d come from another planet where they knew how to make models. This coincided with Phoenix moving quickly up the quality ladder, from which they have since plunged into the darkness below. Why does model making have to be such a roller-coaster ride?

There is plenty of information on NCA under the recent 744F review you can find here: NCA 744F.

Delivered on 1st August 2012, JA13KZ had been built in 2011, but there were behind the-scenes issues over fuel consumption (Cathay Pacific Cargo and Cargolux were also deeply unhappy). The fuel burn was far higher – I’ve been told as much as 4% – than Boeing had said it would be. For a cargo airline that’s the margin they work on so seeing it vanish was a big issue. The 748F was going to loose them money. Stops on deliveries were made and Cathay Pacific were prepared to cancel orders, as were NCA. In the end undisclosed compensation deals were agreed, a big effort to update the software for the engine management systems, and physical modifications to the engines were also prioritised.

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Issues with wing flutter also had to be resolved, something that also affected the 748i and delayed Korean Airlines EIS for the passenger version. It’s often be rumored that the fuel issue was the main cause of Lufthansa cutting their order from 25 to 19 748i.

JA13KZ was the third of 8 currently operational 748KZF’s. Technically 6 more were on order as options, but none were delivered in 2015 as the cargo market, after a brief respite, began to dive again as China’s economic problems caught up with it. By September 2015 NCA decided to kill the order for the remaining four which will leave it with an operational fleet of 10 once the last aircraft are delivered. It seems their intention is to operate just the ten 748F’s and drop their older 744F’s once they become unviable – namely maintenance costs and fuel charges rise too high.

Anyway enough of my ramblings….


NCA Adopted their new livery for the 748F. Not a vast departure from the previous but somewhat more modern and with a notable colour change. They kept the blue from their ANA days and the font, but got rid of the the green at the nose and added a red wave line.

1400Reviews-NCA-748F-JA13KZ-Gemini-CpywrtJonChamps2016.jpgGone too, was the thick upward link to the tail blue over the rear of the fuselage. Teague of Seattle were responsible for the design. Another big change was the heavy increase in size of the forward font – nearly four times what it had been, and the dropping of the ‘Airlines’ so it reads just Nippon Cargo.

The 748F mould is one of my favorites of all time. It just seems perfect and it’s highly photogenic.

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Aerials have stayed put, a common problem on these early models, (several have a missing one somewhere), and the detail, paint quality and overall finish are all first rate. Even the paint lines have a definition that seemed to vanish as Phoenix declined.

Arguably the fine detail, especially around nose and main side loading door is a little feint, especially if compared to the older 744F. However if you look at the real thing, you’ll find that these are almost impossible to see, so well sealed are they on modern aircraft.

2)Wings and landing gear

The wings are beautiful, almost sculptural. It’s amazing when you have the US Defense budget supporting (though of course only accidentally), advanced wing development, what you can achieve.

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The ultra-high gloss paint on the wings is thick and while perfectly applied, it has covered up much of the detail. You have to hold the wings at an odd angle to even see the shapes under the paint.

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The landing gear is all very silver with silver wheels and black tyres. The middle set of gears is lightly sprung. All roll and look acceptable.

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I love that these have the big GEnx logo on them and the detail is very good. I’m not using excellent because one of the 2012 issues that stretched into 2013 and 14 was the wobbly rims on the intakes. Now these are pretty good, but even so it’s not hard to detect a slight wobble in the silver. Overall though, a great job, all the way to the correct angles mounted on the pylons.

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4)Nose detail

Nothing to complain about. Excellent.

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5)Tail detail

This is it’s greater weakness. The horizontal stabilisers, especially the starboard one, just don’t fit as tightly as they should. Other than that no issues.

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6) Colours

No issues at all. A great job.

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KLM have the contract to tow all cargo aircraft at RLSI (I love those tractors!)

7)Score and conclusions

  • -4 for the over-glossed wings covering so much detail
  • -4 for the not quite fitted right horizontal stabilisers
  • -2 for the wobbly engine rims

So 90%. Not bad at all. Now all we have to do is wait for the next 748F in the chain. The JCW Cargolux ‘Cutaway’. Somehow I doubt that’s ever going to see the light of day and I’m guessing has been sold off to Cargolux as a corporate giveaway. 6 Months of waiting nearly? Herpa, well that would be normal, but JCW rarely take this long.

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