This has been a very long time getting here. The aircraft itself was delivered in the livery at the end of September 2015, I ordered it first, on October 15th 2015, as soon as it was announced. JC Wings finally released it in October 2016 and it got here on the 17th November 2016. Despite knowing about it for 12 months Phoenix have also just announced one for December 2016.
This is my third Cargolux 748F. They actually fly over my UK home on a regular basis, on their Prestwick-Luxemburg leg. The huge arc the create as the turn towards London and on to Luxemburg at 35kft can be seen as much as 60 miles away on a good day.
I don’t know what it is about Cargolux, but I have a huge soft spot for the brand. Maybe it’s because they have a consistency and quality around it, something years of working in brand management and creation has left me prone to, that few other cargo airlines have managed to sustain. Air Bridge Cargo is another that comes to mind, along with SF Airlines in China.
The aircraft was delivered in this livery as new to Cargolux Airlines International on the 28th september 2015. The special livery was designed to show many of the items the company had carried during its 45 year history. Named City of Redange-sur-Attert she was 13th of 14 748F’s ordered for the airline, which is now part Chinese HNA Group (Hainan Airlines parent) owned.
The first thing that whacks you straight in the eyes on this model is the base colour. JC Wings have made this a sort of over-blue-tinged grey, and it’s nothing at all like the real thing nor the other two in my collection. Once again, they’ve adopted the lazy technique of using RGB analysis to pick the colour from photographs.
There are loads of photos of this aircraft, and several of them have this cast in the images, largely because they’ve been taken on poor equipment or the colour reproduction is just rubbish. The photos above show on the left, a clean, whiter colour (but it isn’t bright white nor meant to be, more of an ultra-pale grey), the one on the right shows a blueish cast.
The fact that there are hundreds of images to choose from, never mind the rest of the fleet in the same colour, and they choose this too-dark blue-grey?
The worst part is that because of the flash it’s impossibly hard to explain how poor the colour is in the photos. In natural light, the contrast is astonishing. In low light the contrast just seems ever more apparent.
The graphics are also another mediocre let down. They use the cheap dot-matrix process that Phoenix used on the Turkish SFO-Istanbul 773ER model a while back. The result is the same, low definition, low vibrancy, low quality. Something akin to spending your time looking at a 4K UHD movie on Amazon or Netflix and then watching it in VHS.
To think they had 12 months to get this right and this is what we get? Part of the giveaway should be the box – which had this bizarre silver-grey print on the front. Did they think it was the 25th Silver anniversary not the 45th? That would explain so much.
The graphic holds Boeing’s record for the largest ever applied to any aircraft, and was designed by Belgian Phillippe Cruyt.
The technical execution of the rest of the detail is excellent, along with the aerials and everything else. The whole thing though, is ruined by this erroneous body colour.
2. Wings and landing gear
For whatever reason, JCW have supplied this with in-flight wings. Why? Why would you do that?
The paint isn’t over glossed and shows off plenty of upper-surface detail. It just looks stupid on the ground, especially next to the other two Cargolux 748’s whose wings are at normal level.
The landing gear is fine, though it has to be said everything is the standard blue-grey, other than the black tyres.
Very good with the exception that the exhaust cone should in fact be that metallic blue colour, not silver-grey. This doesn’t change over time trough emissions and heat.
The fans and rims are excellent.
The wing angle is in-flight and the exhausts on the engines should be metallic blue.
4. Nose detail
The quality of the print and general detail is quite excellent, no question of that. In many ways the excellence of key detail, helps make the low-impact graphics, so crucial to this model, look poor.
5. Tail detail
Excellent, again just emphasises how poor the cutaway graphics are. We know it can be done better, look what Phoenix achieved with the AeroMexico Quetzalcoatl.
The body base colour and wings is just wrong, I’d say by about three shades too dark.
The vibrancy of the graphics is totally missing, they look pale and lifeless, washed out. And that’s before using any flash on them. They look in places (especially the starboard side with the coach, which is black and gold on the real thing), almost pale monochrome and the colours are especially weak.
7. Score and conclusions
- -10 for the body colour fail
- -15 for the lifeless, matt, lack-lustre, dead-looking graphics
- -6 for the in-flight wings
- -2 for the engine exhaust cones not being blue
- 67% is not a score I can live with
The body colour is one thing, but the dead, often colour free, or low colour graphics, are a sham. The one thing that makes this livery pop on the real thing is the stunning colours. By choosing the wrong body colour and it being too dark, then applying the low quality graphics on them, it’s made the graphics even more lifeless.
The wings are a joke. If you want in-flight and know what you’re getting, so be it, but they look ridiculous next to the other two models that don’t have it.
I was so looking forward to this model, my hopes were high, even more so bearing in mind JCW’s apparent quality improvements of late.
I love Cargolux, they’re my favourite cargo airline, but this isn’t up to the standards they would expect, or I want. It’s a mediocre model, and something of a let down given how long they had to get it right.
My conclusion: Wait for the Phoenix – with any luck they’ll make more of an effort and get it right.
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