As we sit in the graveyard of desperation between model releases, I thought I’d take a look at the remaining pair of 744’s operating for BA out of RLSI. Although having said that I’ve just been told four new models will be here today!
Once there were six BA 744’s in my collection, but over time I realised that was rather ridiculous, and I only needed the two variants that really matter, a standard livery and a Oneworld livery. The others were sold off.
At their peak BA was the worlds largest 744 operator, indeed it still is, though numbers are in sharp decline now. 37 Remain operational, 20 have been withdrawn (though one, G-BNLL was a write-off after its starboard wing cut through a maintenance building at Johannesburg a couple of years ago).
The reductions will continue, especially when the 787-10 and the A350-1000 start to be delivered. Eventually only the 18 that completed their “Super Hi-J” refit will be retained until around 2023, at which time most will be 25 years old or more. These had their interiors refurbished completely, and were fitted with wi-fi. They retained the 14 First Class seats, but went from 52 to 86 business class, and reduced their Premium Economy (World Traveller Plus) to 30 from 36, and (World Traveller) Economy from 235 to 145.
One of these two, G-CIVY will be staying until the end. I’m mildly sentimental about it as we flew on her on our honeymoon in 2012. G-CIVP however will not be there to the very last. Indeed G-CIVP no longer carries the Oneworld livery – out of BA’s entire fleet only 6 744’s actually do now, G-CIVC, D, G, K, L & Z. Only Z is on the keep list to 2023.
These models are mildly dated further by the lack of the TFTS (To Fly, To Serve. Or, as some would have it “Today Flying, Tomorrow Striking”) crest, but that’s pretty minor in the overall scheme of things.
The G-CIVP model, GJBAW917 dates from 2009. The G-CIVY model is a 2011 version GJBAW1076, previously done in 2005 in a special green box for Harrods. The 2011 model was greatly over-supplied, lurking in large numbers on eBay for over three years.
There are some interesting differences between the models, You can actually see where in terms of quality. The earlier model P, has better detail, better landing gear, better engines, whereas the recession era model, Y, shows cost cutting with low-cost landing gear, and a marked lack of small detail in places.
G-CIVP was delivered new on 17th February 1998 and G-CIVY on 28th September of the same year.
The mould is absolutely fine, the one thing Gemini always produced was a quality 744. Even now, it’s one of the few models they nearly always get right.
G-CIVP’s technical detail, especially passenger and cargo doors, are much darker and a thicker black line than G-CIVY. The large Oneworld logo is neat and crisp and it has to be said that the paint work generally is pretty excellent. There are no smears, over-runs or blues leaching into the white on either. However very little “super detail” has made its way on to either, no nose cones for example.
2. Wings and landing gear
The upper wing surfaces are a different shade of paint – G-CIVY is darker in the light grey and also has a darker silver centre panel. Underneath there is the same contrast. The only outstanding feature is that G-CIVP has her registration under the wing, a practice BA have now stopped.
The landing gear however is seriously different. P is the older model and yet has similar landing gear type as we seem to get on Gemini 744’s now. These have 4 sets of 4 wheel bogies, each with a decent quality tyre on a silver wheel. Y however, despite being the later model, has a pretty cheap looking set of tyres on spigots. The difference is very noticeable on the nose gear.
The quality of the gear is iffy, neither is sealed correctly, the bogies on one side rarely touch the ground properly, and they’re both as bad as each other.
This is where they really do notice as having different standards applied. The mould is the same, but P has an astonishing amount of small, visible detail, printed onto the nacelles, that is completely missing from Y’s engines. The only thing that’s consistent is the visible RR logo.
The engine moulds are nothing to write home about at the exhaust, just a blank silver hole. The rims aren’t bad at all on P but they’re not as refined on Y.
Overall they are both very similar. The cockpit detail is excellent on both. P only wins out because she has that much more detail with the Oneworld logo, and its associated graphics.
The tails are the same livery, but the colours are notably brighter and lighter on P, it’s especially noticeable around the APU exhaust.
Weighing them up, in the overall balance of things, I’d say P wins – it just looks more like they do in real life than Y when it comes to the reds.
7.Score and conclusions
It’s not really fair to score them, but there is no doubt that the better model is in fact the 2009 G-CIVP. It’s better quality, it’s got more detail, and it looks like someone took their time to make sure it reached a high standard.
G-CIVY just doesn’t quite have the finish and the landing gear isn’t a patch on P’s. The red is also not quite right.
What I would like is a model of G-CIVJ in the refurbished wi-fi equipped TFTS scheme, aerials included. That would make a nice end of an era collection piece (and it’s one I’ve also flown on).
My recommendation: If you’re a BA fan you may already have these, if you want one and can find one second hand, only you’ll know how much you want to pay for it. It’s unlikely we’ll see many more produced, but we all know Gemini like to maximise old moulds, and as the 744 dies off, they’ll want to push one out every now and then. I paid about £24 each for these two, there’s no way I’d pay £55 for a new one.
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