Polar/DHL 747-87UF N853GT Phoenix 10901 2013

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I was delighted to find this as it eluded me the first time round and not may were made (allegedly 600). She’s one of the Atlas Air fleet. Atlas Air own Polar Air Cargo and this one is operated by them for Polar, who operate it on contract basis for DHL, hence the yellow DHL tail, something DHL require from all their joint operations agreements.

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You can find reviews on her sisters here:

Atlas Air 747-87UF N852GT Gemini Jets GJGTI1552 June 2016

Panalpina 748UF N850GT Phoenix 10682 2012

Polar Air Cargo is based at Anchorage, Alaska, with secondary hubs at Cincinnati, LAX and Incheon (Seoul, South Korea).

This specific aircraft mostly operates the North Pacific Rim circuit, ANC, NRT, PVG, HKG, LAX, INC, but occasionally does a full round the world running to DHL’s base at Leipzig, then Bahrein, and back through Asia and over the Pacific.

n853gt-polar-air-cargo-boeing-747-87uf_PlanespottersNet_396978.jpg I do have a bit of a thing for cargo aircraft, recently modifying the RLSI layout to extend the cargo section further still, so it now has 18 hard stands rather than 12. In the mean time I’ve had to take 12 older and/or less liked freighters out of service, because there was nowhere to keep them…172 different cargo aircraft are still in daily use though! The trouble with 748F’s is they occupy so much space!

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1.Fuselage

The Gemini and Phoenix moulds are very slightly different, but not in any meaningful way.

The 747-8 has had its greatest success as a freighter; indeed the only remaining orders are for freighters versions. The downside some people might say, it’s too often liveries can be a little, well lets call it businesslike. Yet that’s half the point. It’s the contrast between “passenger facing”, and business facing aircraft, it’s a simpler, more direct type of brand identification. Even more so when the airlines are freight only and don’t have to pander to the passenger airlines’ brand identity.

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Simple white paint is a brilliant way of showing up the cleanliness of the production process, especially on such a large body. The yellow too has a sharp ability to reveal any flaws. The fact there are none actually demonstrates a high level of production standards.

That production standard does not however stretch to the rearmost or forward aerial, which, somewhat unsurprisingly, went missing in short order. This is typical of 2012-13 when these were introduced. It’s a pity, but virtually every single 748 made from both manufacturers in 2012-13 is missing at lest one aerial, front or rear.

Other than that everything is clean and neat, essential when the basic livery is so simplistic.

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2.Wings and landing gear

No issues in terms of wing and mould shape. Inserted rather well overall, they got better as time went. If there was anything that I have noticed, it’s the trailing edge of the wing to the rear of No.1 engine. it has the slight appearance of a blunted knife. It’s rough, but we’re talking about a 1 cm strip at best, and it’s pretty minor.

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The silver paint on the leading edges is good and the engine pylons neat.

The paint however on the upper surfaces is way to heavy. detail has almost vanished in a tidal wave of high-shine gloss paint, both above and below.

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The entire landing gear assembly is a good one. All the wheels role and the bogies in the centre seem spring-loaded, while the outer set are rigid. Pity about the bright silver paint, but it’s light in application and not an issue. Nose gear was often a problem in 2012, but this appears well fixed.

3.Engines

The all-white engines are pretty basic. Beautifully made and superbly painted, even the rims are neat and the fans too, a shade of silver used that is more than passable for rims, and fans in combination.

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4.Nose detail

Being a purpose-built freighter, the nose door is clearly marked up, with the Polar roundel underneath, so that when lifted the logo appears over the centre of the loading ramp. The wording “Operated by Atlas Air” is clearly visible despite its miniscule size. Cockpit windows and sensors, the small passenger/crew section windows, all neat.

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5.Tail

The DHL logo and the colour are all correct, but to be frank, the vertical stabilizer is heavily over-glossed, detail is completely obscured. The tail section of the fuselage has all the necessary printed detail, in terms of lower and upper cargo bay doors, registration and essential markings. Horizontal stabilizers are excellent.

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6.Colours

No issues, acceptable across the board.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -6 for the missing front and rear upper aerials
  • -4 for the excessive gloss on the tail
  • -6 for the excessive gloss on the wings
  • 84% isn’t actually bad for a 2012 model. Around this time they were regularly down in the 60’s so it would have seemed like a success. These days, missing aerials alone would see it sent back, and rightly so.

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Fortunately things have improved since 2012, aerials rarely go missing like they did then. With the new deliveries of 748’s now only going to existing customers, few new liveries are likely to make their way into production, though it’s about time somebody did the ABC UK version “Cargologic Air”. And by the end of this month, after 12 months of waiting, three orders and two cancellations, Cargolux 748F Cutaway should make an appearance from JC Wings.

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This isn’t their usual freight standing, this is the layover stands for the passneger terminals, but it was the only place to line up all three. N850GT

I was (when I’m bored on a flight usually), updating the cargo capacity of RLSI as an airport. With the current schedule, and number of cargo aircraft in and out, its yearly total is just over 3.12 million tons. In the real world that would make it the worlds second busiest cargo airport after Hong Kong at 4.38m, but in front of Incheon at 2.6m.  Even Frankfurt is only 5th, LAX 10th and LHR 14th.  I estimate I’d need another 30 large freighters at least to reach No.1. I don’t know which bit is sadest. That I have that many freighters? That I worked out the tonnage? That there’s a schedule? Help!

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