Swiss International Airlines has, and is, undergoing a major fleet transformation as it approaches the end of the second decade of the 21st Century. A new fleet of Bombardier CS100’s replaces the now elderly Fokker and BAe aircraft in the regions, and the intercontinental fleet is being revamped with 777-300ER’s.
Of course what that means is, the long-haul fleet is loosing most of its A340-300’s pretty quickly, and this aircraft is one of them. Some of them have gone to Swiss’ subsidiary Edelweiss, but they are taking the younger aircraft. HB-JMJ is now 20 years old, and really at the end of her viable lifespan. There’s not enough landing cycles left to warrant a refit or repaint, and swiss don’t need her.
She started life as Air Canada’s C-FYKX on Nov 19th 1996, the 150th A343 built.
Air Canada sold her to Swiss International in May 2007 as it rapidly divested itself of 4 engined aircraft. She was painted into the original Swiss International ‘four languages’ livery (which I’ve always prefered), and fitted out with F8C48Y172, and named Zug.
With the financial and economic collapse of 2007-9, many international routes had fallen off so badly that hundreds of routes were dumped, hand over fist, as airlines – along with everyone else, tried to salvage what they could from the mess. Yet by late 2010 into early 2011 some routes were clearly becoming more viable than others, and the rush to kill them off was looking possibly a little premature.
Swiss decided in May 2010 to go to San Francisco direct from Zürich, and HB-JMJ was introduced in the San Francisco livery after being reconfigured to F8C47Y164. She kept this until August 2011 when the revised Swiss International livery started to be rolled out.
I love this San Francisco livery, it’s the best one of several that have been used by various airlines, really paying attention to everything that makes the city what it is today, from the Golden Gate to the history of the gay community, 1960’s flower power, the peace movement, the tech industry, the rolling hills, cable cars, and pretty much everything else that created a city with such a rich heritage, and a place I love. Sadly much of that is being lost now, but that’s another story.
She was a regular to San Francisco – this is her final livery in service, and was taken on her penultimate rotation there on 25th september 2016, the last being the 30th September. Her final in-service flight was to Johannesburg on October 2nd, following which she was withdrawn. She was quickly de-branded, and on October 12th flown as LX5114 to RAF St Athan outside Cardiff in Wales, for storage. She’ll be used as a spares donor to support the Edelweiss fleet before eventual scrap.
I’ve wanted one of these in the current livery for ages, but I wish it wasn’t HB-JMJ really, because I have her in JCWings 2010-11 SFO livery. I don’t know about some of you but I can’t have two aircraft with same registration on the diorama, it just upsets my sensibilities too much! So for a while I’m going to retire the JC Wings version, but it certainly won’t be sold.
Aeroclassics have the best A330/340 mould going. And while I often deride their colour choices, because they can so often be horribly inaccurate, this seemed like one they would have a hard time getting wrong.
I know that everyone expects aerials these days, but AC never bother, and I don’t mind. Not only that but their prices are more than reasonable, this was just £33, which compared to what Gemini would charge for this, is a bargain.
The print quality is as good as any you will see, and that’s important because the current Swiss livery is intentionally highly minimalist by design, so every detail matters.
2.Wings and landing gear
I could but wish AC made more A330/340’s because, unlike that joke of a model JCWings/Gemini try to pass off as their new mould with its grossly over-elevated wings, these are accurate, and detailed. In fact these are better than the Phoenix version, though they do seem mildly over-painted.
The inserted wings look great from above, and below, though the under wing detail is non-existent.
Landing gear is remarkably fine in detail, though painted a pale grey. The wheels all rotate and the centre gear is the best A343 centre gear detail I’ve ever seen on the type from anyone.
Nose gear is also excellent.
The four CFMI CFM56-5C4’s are extremely neat, the rims are excellent and the exhaust detail really superb – all the more so because unless you look for it you can’t even see it. Now that is when something shows genuine quality. Paying as much attention to something only a real enthusiast would even notice, or look for, that’s the sort of thing that pleases me. If you think how many reviews have been marred by lazy approaches to this type of detail – something Phoenix have often failed with on smaller models especially, and JCW/Gemini on the A320 more so, this only serves to highlight what can be achieved.
The only down side is a rather over bright silver used on the fans. When will all manufacturers accept that fans are NOT silver!?
Superbly clean and nicely detailed, everything is where it should be, and looks like quality.
Beautifully painted and assembled, an excellent job.
Red and white. What’s there to go wrong?
7.Score and conclusion
- -4 for the over bright silver fans on the engines. The paint may be superb, but the colour is just toy-like.
- 96% is a superb score. I think that’s the highest an Aeroclassics has ever achieved.
Other than the fan colours, which is something that really has to be highlighted until manufacturers start paying attention, this is a superb model. In fact I’m delighted with it. It’s a real quality item, and it looks wonderful. A nice way to finish off the Swiss collection – although I would like a current livery A330, and maybe a new A320…..
My recommendation: if you’re a Swiss fan or collector, or just want a first class example of an airliner that’s passed into history in the last few weeks, this a must buy. The best modern aircraft I’ve ever seen from Aeroclassics.
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