Transmile MD-11F 9M-TGP Gemini Jets GJTSE739 2007

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Transmile Air Services was a Malaysian success story, the ‘darling of the countries aviation industry’, and a leader in cargo services for SE Asia. So magnetic, and successful was its business, initially state-owned, then transferred to private hands, that wealthy private individuals, and inevitably government ministers, found themselves drawn to it and its success.

However, in a country not entirely unused to corruption scandals (the current Prime Minister has still never really explained why his bank account was topped up by $1 billion US by Saudi Arabia, and that’s just one of a long list of other scandals, including election fraud, miscarriages of justice against opposition politicians etc etc), the company’s success turned out to be, in short, a complete and utter mirage.

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Basically, in 2007 the CEO and CFO concocted a set of fake accounts, one set claiming the company was making millions in profit for 2006, the reality set showing it was actually making substantial loses all the way through 2005-2006, and was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The company and its subsidiaries soon went into slow collapse, court cases commenced in 2011-13, and by 2014 the assetless company was effectively wound up, though even now there are still issues.  The remnants of its aviation business have ended up as Raya Airways, though they are relatively insignificant.

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At its height Transmile operated ten cargo aircraft,  and 5 passenger used for charter flights, 4 were MD-11F’s and they were the last to leave service in 2011, all of them going to Fedex.

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Originally built for Swiss Air as HB-IWB in 1991, then transferring to Swiss after the restructure and bail-out in 2002, then to Varig as PP-VTF in 2003, who kept her until only September 2004 when she was sold to FedEx owned Central Air Leasing as N625FE and converted in Naples, Italy, to Cargo. She was the delivered to Transmile who kept her as 9M-TGP until 2011 when the company ceased aviation operations, becoming N644FE for Fedex. The withdrew her from use in November 2014 and she’s stored at South California Logistics, for breaking with what looks like half of BA’s 744 fleet.

Allegedly on 1,500 of this model were made.

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1.Fuselage

This is one of Gemini’s ‘good old days’ models. You would be desperately hard pressed to find a modern recent aircraft model that was any better than this in fit and finish. Detail is first-rate, every last thing you could expect to want or see printed is done with precision and accuracy. Well everything except the wording “Asia Serving the World”, which on every photo is in standard lettering, but on the model is italicised.

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2.Wings and landing gear

Cradle system of course, but still exceptionally well fitted and problem free. The upper surfaces are well detailed and the paint, especially on the leading edges, is excellent. the silver looks metal and these days we know how hard they find doing that. The underneath though is another story, over glossed, and the detail obscured.

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Landing gear is typical 2007, solid, metal, tyres-on-spigots, none of them move or roll.

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3.Engines

If only we could see engine rims and paint like this every day! this is what quality used to be like and has now seemingly vanished from the 1400 model world for the most part. Profit and mediocrity are the name of the game these days. However look here to find a superb set of titanium blades, quality silver rims and a gorgeous set of simple P&W 4462’s.

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4.Nose detail

Superb, the best you could expect.

1400Reviews-Transmile-MD-11F-9M-TGP-Gemini-2007-CpywrtJonChamps2016 7.jpg5.Tail detail

Superbly done, nice detail, quality paint and graphics and the centre engine is as gorgeously done as the other two. First rate.

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6.Colours

Gemini were almost always a master of colours, a skill they seem to have lost in the last two years. Here the quality and research shows dividends, looking just as I would expect. The plum coloured livery looks accurate and clean across the whole aircraft. The white is also a strong, clean, quality white, not the weak and wishy-washy white that we seem to get so often now.

7.Score and conclusions

What a lovely model! Neat, quality, detailed, with only one real minor flaw in the italicised lettering.

1400Reviews-Transmile-MD-11F-9M-TGP-Gemini-2007-CpywrtJonChamps2016 9.jpg96% is the score I would have given it, 4% off for the lettering italics.

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