Arrow Cargo (formally Arrow Air), ran with the call sign BIG A. Over the years they operated 13 DC-10’s, 4 of them DC-10-30’s like this one. Established in 1947 in the glow of post war victory and the need of the US military for transport around the world, especially in war shattered Europe and Asia. Eventually based in Miami, the company closed in 2010 during the biggest downturn in the fortunes for cargo airlines around the world, indeed in the history of aviation.
Arrow was founded by a native American, Ed Batchelor but over the years got involved in some difficult moments, including being grounded by the FAA in 1995 over maintenance record irregularities, and a write off of a DC-10 at Managua in 2006 when it overshot the runway on landing by over 1,500ft.
By 2002 it was in financial trouble, which it eventually escaped through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, only to wind up with MattiniPatterson an equity and venture capital firm in 2008-9 as the global recession hit hard. The were also involved with World Airways and ATA and were responsible for their eventual demise, as cargo companies collapsed around the world.
The 2004 post-bankruptcy “New Arrow” had a relatively modern and striking livery, and it was the bright green that caught my eye. It looks current and modern even now. It wasn’t an expensive model being second hand of course – it dates to 2005. It’s only the second DC-10 at RLSI.
The aircraft itself, which lasted 32.9 years in service, eventually being dismantled at Miami-Opa Loka Executive Airport.
She had an illustrious history, being delivered to Singapore Airlines in 1979, but the recession in 1979 led to her transfer to Varig less than a year later in 1980. They kept her until 1992 when she was sold back to McDonnell-Douglas who leased her the same year to World Airways, they sub-leased her to Garuda Indonesia for a few months into 1993, then back to World Airways who again sub-leased her to Biman Bangladesh.
Once that sublease was finished, she went back to MD who converted her to freight and registered her as N524MD on 26 January 1994. However she remained in storage until the end of 1995 when she was leased to Aeroflot, wo kept her until Arrow took her on in November 2004. She was taken out of service in July 2010 and broken up in 2012.
This is a solid old-time Gemini model, the quality of which is so high it looks almost remarkable, when compared to some of the junk that’s been thrown at us of late. Just 1,500 of these were made. Wings 900’s database says it was 2007 but the box is clearly marked as 2005, which is more likely as she was relatively new to Arrow that year.
The print, paint and detail is as good as any of the best modern aircraft models, crisp, clean, exceptionally defined. It’s a quality that seems long-lost at times, and yet here they are doing it better 11 years ago than they do now. The green and blue works so well and it’s just so neat and tidy. It’s a gem of a model.
2.Wings & landing gear
The wings are made to a production standard that would never get past the bean counters these days. Not only is the cradle fit perfect and gapless, the bare metal elements of forward and rear flaps are polished chrome! It looks amazing. It looks spectacularly high quality.
The landing gear is very basic, typical of the period, with solid plastic tyres on grey spigots, there’s no attempt at a wheel.
You know my thing for engine rims, and these are perfect. So yet again, back in 2005 they were making quality engines, with good colour fan and perfect silver rims. Even the centre engine is superb quality. The rest of the engine is excellent.
4. Nose detail
So shockingly modern and crisp it seems almost incredible, outstanding detail. Excellent quality. The cockpit windows especially are outstanding.
5. Tail detail
Like nothing you see any more, everything is so beautifully put together. The horizontal stabilizers are, again painted, but also polished chrome. Awesome quality.
Outstanding colour, perfectly applied. Nothing more to be said, it’s not everyone’s favourite colour, that lime green, but it’s brilliantly done.
7. Score and conclusions
There are no subtractions. How can there be? This is quality, the landing gear of the time isn’t brilliant, but it’s not lacking quality. the whole model is a brilliant example of the quality Gemini were once known for, and that gave them the reputation they are now steadfastly loosing as they continue to churn out barely passable models.
Of course why would they care? Success in so many businesses is judged on income, if the dollars keep rolling in nobody minds. Only the dollar and sales numbers are required to prove success. There is no pride or care about what is produced as long as someone buys it, and yes the dollars they keep rolling in.
Apple have proved for the most part that it doesn’t have to be that way. You pay premium prices and you get high quality products with a staggeringly high satisfaction index few companies ever manage. Why can’t we have the same for what we’re paying now in 1:400 world?
Frankly Phoenix seem to be managing it again, and that’s fine by me, I don’t have any particular brand loyalty here as neither deserve it, having gone up and down like yo-yo’s in quality terms over the last 5 years especially.
I want this model’s level of quality on every model I buy. I don’t mind paying if I get quality, I do mind paying when it’s nothing more than dreary indifference.
There are a few of these on eBay for some reason at present – if you love quality, cargo aircraft are one of your ‘things’, it comes highly recommended!
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