Delta Airlines A321-211 N301DN Gemini Jets GJDAL1411 June 2016

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The worlds second largest airline has always had a somewhat eclectic taste in aircraft, preferring older, used, and rarely buying anything new. With the 757 fleet ageing, inherited units from Northwest becoming uneconomic, even this titan of aircraft purchasing frugality does from time to time buy off the shelf. This time they’ve treated themselves to 8 new A321CEO’s, but there are A350’s and 737’s in the pipeline as well as a couple more HGW A333’s.

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It’s a smart looking aircraft in the real metal…

Delta of course is pathologically opposed to anything and anyone who doesn’t think it should have a monopoly on air travel, and that anything foreign it doesn’t own is a bad thing.  Fortunately the world doesn’t work like that yet and the ME3 continue to raise the quality stakes, forcing Delta to respond whether it likes it or not. Improved Delta One and the introduction of premium economy, upgraded business class offerings, are all in operation or being rolled out, and not before time.  The thing with Delta is you know, if they didn’t have to do it, they wouldn’t.

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That said, I have friends who spend half their life flying from business to business meeting – one recently from San Francisco to Detroit on a 767 that was just short of its 30th birthday. “You wouldn’t have known it was that old inside”. Most of them, if they can’t find a way to fly Virgin America, Delta is their preferred option as business flyers.

This aircraft is configured with 20 domestic First (business class recliner, closer to a European Premium Economy such as Virgin Atlantic’s), 29 Delta Comfort+, standard economy seats with more leg room, and 149 economy standard.  Powered by 2 CFM56-5B3/3’s she was ferried from Finkenwerder on 16th March 2016. All she seems to have flown since service entry is Atlanta-Fort Lauderdale or Orlando. 

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An unusual moment when the model was in one piece

1)Fuselage

A rather good mould to be frank, the new type with the slot-in wings. They’ve gone for having three aerials up top, and all are well fitted. There is at least one large one beneath and three smaller ones on the real thing, but none of these are present on the model.

Overall print quality and finish is good, but the blue belly is poorly defined in places where it meets the white. The small dome on the roof has only been printed on. Seeing as they are incapable of making a decent large dome, this is clearly a sensible option.

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2)Wings and landing gear

On Monday we saw once again how terribly bad the JCW made A333 wings are and the problem that first surfaced on the Delta HGW A333 last year is still, 8 months later unresolved.

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Well here’s the bad news: that ludicrous ‘I surrender’ wings-up, beyond even in-flight position, are making their way down the chain, they’ve infected this model too.

The wings were so clearly out of position it’s best described as pathetic. There was only one thing to do. Breathe deeply and see what happened if I pushed them down at the root, and the fuselage up from underneath with my thumbs. Gingerly, I applied pressure. I didn’t want to break the model. Then came the click, one wing then the other. They’d dropped down; I tried again, a second click from each wing root and the wings were where they should be! And no damage I thought.

Then I realised that the port wing was no longer fixed in, and a slight tug pulled it straight out of the socket. The starboard wing was completely intact, but definitely lower.

So I had to glue it back in…

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What is annoying is that this was even necessary. These supposedly professional model makers need to get their act together!  If this was a car manufacturer – or worse still and god forbid, Airbus, they’d be out of business faster than you can say, “How much did that broken lump of metal cost you?”

Strangely enough, the wings in themselves are actually really neat and I’ve no complaints about them or the landing gear. I’d just like them in the right position and not have to break the model to get them to fit!

3)Engines

Frankly a far better paint job and finish that on the much larger A330 engines. How do they do that? Screw up something bigger and easier to paint, but manage a fractionally better job on something half the size? I swear it’s some sort of alchemy. Maybe they should consult Queen Cercei and her in-house Maester. I’m sure he’d come up with sort of mutant that could do the job properly. If you don’t watch Game of Thrones, start now from the beginning and you’ll eventually get the reference.

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Bottom line, the silver rims may be small, but the paint isn’t brilliant; lumpy or thin or missing – there has to be a way of getting it right; Witty managed it 4 years ago. I so miss their quality.

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4)Nose detail

It’s alright, nothing special. Paint chip in the radome.

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5)Tail

Port side stabilizer fell out. Yes just to add to my woes with this, it fell out, it was clearly never glued in properly. I don’t know what to say really, it’s a bad model and Gemini should be ashamed their name is attached to it.

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Glue bubbles up one side of the tail fixing and there are marks and bleed on the tail paint that shouldn’t be there, but you’d be hard pressed to spot.

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6) Colour

No problems.

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7) Score and conclusions

  • -5 for the rear stabilizer falling out
  • -20 for the wing issues
  • -4 for the engine rims
  • -1 for glue bubbles on the vertical stabilizer join
  • -1 for paint bleed
  • -1 for chip in radome paint
  • A score of 68% is another fail. I’m not even counting the fact that I broke the wing to get it to be fixed.

Let’s be clear, this is utterly shit model making. It might have passable paint and finish but wings so badly fitted they’re a joke and a stabilizer falling out? Give me a break. Somebody needs to get a grip with these lousy production standards. A the current rate of things Gemini and JCW are falling off a cliff again. Just as Phoenix are cycling back up it!

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