Air Caraïbes A330-323 F-HPTP Phoenix 11329 1:400 Jan 2017

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Air Caraïbes (pronounced car-y-bey) is based on the small Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, at Pointe-a-Pitre Le Raizet International Airport. The island is one, like Iles Réunion in the Indian Ocean with Air Austral, and Tahiti in the Pacific with Air Tahiti Nui, that is part of metropolitan European France from an administrative, and legal position. It is in effect as much a part of mainland France as Toulouse or Paris, being part of the French Antilles with Martinique.

Founded in the year 2000 as a merger between Air Guadeloupe, Air Martinique, Air St Martin and Air Saint Barthélémy. Now owned and operated by Groupe Dubreuil, the airline operates under two corporate entities, but aims to appear unified at the point of service.

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Air Caraïbes Atlantique operates 4 A330-300 (including this one) and has orders for 3 A359’s, the first of which is close to delivery in 2017. Three A350-1000’s are due in 2020. Air Caraïbes operates more regionally, using a pair of A332’s, 3 ATR-72-500’s and 3 ATR-72-600’s, one of which was delivered in December 2016 and two more due in 2017.

The main focus is on services to Paris Orly for the A330’s and A359’s, with potential expansion to the US, and elsewhere in Europe being on the cards. There is a huge French domestic market for travel to the Caribbean, its’s an all-year round destination, it’s cheap, it uses the same Euro currency, the same language, and doesn’t require a passport for EU citizens in the Schengen area of open borders, just an identity card.

This aircraft was first delivered in 2011 and is owned by the airline. It’s fitted with 18 business class, 30 premium economy, and 307 economy seats.

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1.Fuselage

Another excellent example of the Phoenix A333 mould, three aerials up top along with a moulded-in dome. One aerial sits below under door 3.

Once again, this is excellent in terms of technical detail and print, doors, windows, all present and correct. As an aside, Air Caraïbes opted for the larger full passenger door at No.3 position, whereas many opt only for a smaller escape door. The only airline I can think of that chose the larger door was Virgin Atlantic, but there must be others.

The quality of the livery print and the airline logo is outstanding. In fact it looks better than on the real thing, which is looking a bit battered, close as she is to a major overhaul.

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The underbody transition from azure blue to royal blue then back on the tail to azure is excellent. In fact singularly impressive as so often these transitional colours can be so messy.

2.Wings and landing gear

The wing fit is verging on seamless; superbly fitted. Over glossed of course, with all the consequential masking of mould details, but the general impression is first-rate. the under-wings have no detail visible to speak of.

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The detail in the sharklets is outstandingly good, fully duplicating the colours and the banana leaves. (Incidentally, the banana is a herb, not a tree and 90% of all banana’s are clones, called Cavendish. After a virus wiped out other varieties in the 1930’s resulting is desperate poverty in Central America, and the Caribbean. Endless military coups led to the critical phrase, “no better than a Banana republic”. These things interest me!)

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The landing gear doors are excellent, the silver hydraulic paint superb, all the wheels rotate, tyres are lump free and the nose gear too, is excellent.

3.Engines

Powered by 2x Pratt & Witney PW4168A’s, which are superbly painted. Attention has been paid to the details on the dark blue nacelles, the exhaust and core jet is excellent, the rims are superb and the fans an excellent dark titanium. Yes, they’re excellent, and yes I’m happy about it!

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4.Nose detail

While the upper part of the nose and technical detail is excellent and commensurate with the real thing, this is where the azure blue underneath hasn’t quite worked as successfully, with the white overlapping the blue. It’s not terrible but it’s not perfect either.

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5.Tail detail

A highlight of the model, in terms of excellent colour and superb accuracy. Everything is brilliantly fitted, seamless. Love it.

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6.Colours

Another first-rate accurate example of Phoenix getting colour right. This was once upon a time their worst failing, but how things have improved! Outstanding. Gemini could only wish they were anywhere near as close in terms of accuracy.

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7.Score and conclusions.

  • -2 for the under-nose blue fail; minor but still imperfect.
  • 98% Phoenix are doing well this year already!

An excellent model. Different, a long time coming really, colourful, and satisfying that it’s almost perfect.

My recommendation: Buy it! it’s a really nice A333 model in a cheerful and colourful livery from a poorly served area of the world in terms of models, and airlines. 

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