Kalitta Air 747-446BCF N743CK DHL Livery Gemini Jets GJCKS1066 2011

This is the second aircraft to wear this registration for Kalitta Air, the former being a 747-246B scrapped in December 2009. This one was delivered to Kalitta Air on 17 November 2010 having previously been JA8906 originally as a passenger aircraft, delivered in March 1993, then converted to BCF standards in March 2007 for JAL Cargo; just 6 months before the global economy began its nose dive and a year before its collapse in late 2008.

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By early 2010, with global cargo in a tailspin it still hasn’t recovered from six years later, JAL put her into storage. Kalitta Air picked her up in November 2010, the requirement for military supply contracts to Afghanistan offering one of the few big cargo supply opportunities with guaranteed fees available.

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The airlines roots go back to 1967, but in its current form (the name derives from Conrad “Connie” Kalitta, its founder), has only existed since 2000. It’s a sizable operation, with a major repair base at Oscuda-Wurtsmith Airport in Michigan. It’s HQ is in Ypsilanti, Michigan but its main operating bases are Willow Run near the same town as well as EWR and JFK amongst others.

It also subleases 2 aircraft, including this one, to DHL operations between the US and Europe. Indeed it operates these quite regularly and flies over the house which is why I decided I had to have it. Like it took that much of an excuse!

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N743CK  at 33,000ft altitude, 2 miles horizontal a couple of weeks ago over RLSi on her way to Liège.

I’d quite like one in Kalitta’s standard livery which is quite old fashioned, but distinctive. They fly over here regularly on their way to the Middle East. They’ve recently taken delivery of a 767 which hopefully someone will produce.

1)Fuselage

It’s a simple enough livery with easy detail and Gemini have done a good job of reproducing it. Everything is where its should be and it’s all beautifully done, neat, clean and crisp.

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2)Wings & landing gear

The fit and finish of the wing cradle is completely faultless. It really defies belief that it’s that good, but when it comes to 747’s Gemini always seem to be so much better that they are with far more modern aircraft, like the 787, which all too often is a mess, as many of us found out at the end of 2015 with the BA & KLM 789’s.

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The landing gear is the standard gear almost every manufacturer seems to use; spring loaded centre bogies, metal wheels and rubber tyres, though it has to be said some of the tyres take ‘lumpy’ to a new high.

3)Engines

The four GE CF6-80C2B1F’s are exceptionally neat and tidy, though the white seems to have yellowed slightly, it’s not quite the full-on ultra-brite white on the fuselage. At first I thought it my be fading, but it’s universal across all four engines so, it must be more than just fade. It isn’t particularly detrimental, but just worth mentioning.

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The silvers and colours of the rims and fans are spot on.

4)Nose detail

There isn’t much to be honest, less than there should be (no radome for example), but the flight deck windows look excellent.

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5)Tail detail

Sadly the real thing tends to look exceptionally unkempt, the paint is filthy and it all looks in need of a re-spray.  The model however is clean and crisp, as good as the day it came out of the factory. It is in DHL yellow of course and there are minimal embellishments, but it easily passes any close up or visual test.

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6) Colours

No issues, everything seems to be spot on.

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7)Score and conclusions

  • -4 for four lumpy tyres, they are actually quite unsightly and it doesn’t roll properly because of them. I’ll eventually trim them down.
  • -2 for missing off the nose cone detail, which on this much white was a noticeable omission.
  • 94%. It doesn’t qualify for MOTY because it’s a 2011 model, yet even so it once again shows that when it comes to 747’s Gemini even at their worst, always seem to make them really well. Compared to the Apollo version with its dent-roof mould (and the old JCW seems to have the same issue), and even the near faultless Witty (which had slot in wings, the Apollo usually a cradle), this is remarkably good. It makes the Phoenix wing-dragging version look silly. The only one that comes really close to beating it is the Hogan/Herpa, but their downside is poor wheels and no stand hole.

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That tail colour stands out all the way across the other side of the airport
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