FedEx MD-11F N594FE Gemini Jets GJFDX412 2004

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Sometimes bargains appear on eBay – and I occasionally buy something without a box if it’s still in mint condition and I’ve not been able to find an alternative. I tend to interrogate the seller and get a few more photos just to be sure it’s good enough. You can imagine how much fun that is.

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I was a little surprised at how old this model was, especially because it’s in top notch condition having lived in a cabinet for most of its life. It says something about collectors and their appreciation of their models that we can buy something 12 years old with relative confidence it’s little different from the day it came out of the factory.  Gemini still made relatively limited numbers back then, this one was supposedly 2000 units, not that that’s a small number, but it is compared to the numbers they produce now.

One of my new neighbors in California is a Fedex pilot flying out of Oakland, who tells me fascinating stuff, and back in England, every week day around 1700hrs the daily Memphis-Stanstead FX2 flies a mile to the east of me although that recently converted to 777F’s from MD-11F’s. A little earlier at 1615hrs we get the FX34 flight Memphis-Stanstead-CDG, though that was uniquely MD-11F’s its transitioning to 777F’s quite quickly now. At weekends under a different flight number they still use an A300F.

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This particular aircraft is Memphis based at time of writing but according to her flight record has spent most of her time flying US Domestic routes for months, though in recent days has suddenly been shifted Osaka/Taipei/Guangzhou/Manilla.

Delivered to Fedex 19th June 2002, and named ‘Derek’, she’s an ex-American Airlines aircraft, delivered in February 1993, N1762B. American withdrew her from service in October 2001, she was temporarily stored in Tulsa then flown to Mojave. She wasn’t there long before Fedex bought her and flew her to Aeronavali in Venice, Italy for freighter conversion, part of a 50 aircraft deal.  Heading for 24 years old she’s probably close to retirement, especially as Fedex are speeding up removing older aircraft types.

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The new background is from NoPoint Airport in the Netherlands. It’s 1:500 scale but more than adequate for this small diorama extension to RLSI.

This particular batch of conversions have a much smaller forward cargo main door than rear door conversions or purpose built. I’m told that these aircraft are allocated mostly to move a lot of smaller, urgent packages rather than heavy freight and larger containers.

Whatever her eventual end, I still love MD-11’s and there passing will be a sad day indeed.

1)Fuselage

Generally the mould is fine but this suffers from a bit of nose flatness that one or two of the other MD-11’s at RLSI also seem to have – but not all of them. The Express logo on this is the older version font, more like a Times New Roman than the current crispy-clean one used today. The ‘World on time’ is also in the older font style, but these are observations only.

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Markings and equipment change over the years, so from a ‘now’ perspective, she is what she is and none of the detail is so crushingly different that it stops her looking current. Photos of her back then show that she’s been made with considerable accuracy.

2)Wings and landing gear

Cradle wings of course, but they fitted well then. The detail up top is excellent but the underneath is thick detail-obscuring light grey gloss.  The main landing gear is the old style tyre on a spigot and not the most attractive, but it does the job and is in keeping with the period she was made in.

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3)Engines

Lights, camera, sunglasses! The amount of  light-reflective silver from the fans is like a small nuclear air burst when the flash goes off, a minor exaggeration I’m permitting myself to make a point. I do like the CF6-80C2D1F’s though, they always look right for this aircraft somehow.

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However despite the lavish embellishment of silver, what there is is high quality, refined paint, and none of the rubbish we’ve seen in recent years. Yet we have to remember Gemini and Fedex go back a long way and they’ve been assiduous in capturing accuracy and producing quality models.  Only UPS, Emirates and Etihad, and to a lesser extent BA

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and Lufthansa, seem to have extracted consistently high quality levels from the manufacturer. It might take longer to get the model, but look at the recent Lufthansa 748i 60th livery. It knocked the Phoenix into much deserved obscurity when it came out.

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4)Nose detail

Spot on for the period. No issues other than the flat spot on the nose. It hasn’t been dropped or damaged so it has to have been there from the factory.

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5)Tail detail

Spot on for the period again, though I wish there was a fan in the central engine rather a blank silver plate. I know, a lot to ask for but worth mentioning! There is a small amount of colour bleed into the white from the purple, but it takes some looking for! Passes the eyeball test easily.

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6) Colours

Perfect.

7)Score and conclusion

  • -5 for the nose
  • -2 for the excessive gloss paint on the underside, it really is too heavy.

So 93% for a 12 year old model. Can’t complain at that now can I?

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