THAI Cargo 777FZB N774SA Phoenix 1:400 10408 2010

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As we wait for the next round of models to arrive, this turned up on eBay, and as it was a very reasonable £24 buy it now, with free postage, I did, so here it is! Allegedly only 600 of this model were made back in 2010.

Thai Cargo (not to be mixed up with the short-lived airline part-owned by Qantas that vanished in 2005-6), was once a thriving arm of the main airline, the cargo collapse of 2011-15 brought about its demise, and now it’s nothing more than a belly cargo operation. It had a small fleet of 744’s – some of them the airlines own passenger variants, expensively converted, and a handful of ‘true’ 777F freighters leased in from Southern Air.

Delivered in February 2010, Southern Air were over the moon to sub-lease her to Thai as they just didn’t have the business to make her profitable. Thai was somewhat blind to its upcoming financial crisis, and felt it could use the aircraft, and she was delivered to them just 12 days after Southern Air had themselves taken delivery.

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They painted it into a fresh and modern looking livery with the words “always deliver the best” in Thai’s corporate colours, but on the tail. I think it still looks pretty modern and current even 7 years down the line, which is why I didn’t mind having it!

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An unuual interior cockpit view taken in Bangkok, April 2010.

In the end Thai didn’t operate her for long, the collapse in the global air cargo industry was massive – some say as much as a 42% contraction occurred in a a little under a year.  By July 2011, she was returned to Southern Air who operate her for DHL.

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The aviation model collection business hit a rough patch around 2009-11 in terms of volumes. It was only when the rebound came in 2012 that quality slipped abysmally across the board as capability outstripped quality control, and larger and large numbers of models were demanded. Yet in 2010 Phoenix were still making a quality model, and this is one of them.

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1.Fuselage

With the transfer of the passenger variant to the 773ER, the 772ER was dropped and became a freighter only version, with the new wings and purpose-built interior. It’s heading towards being one of the most successful large freighters built from new, ever.

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Some people don’t like the Phoenix 772 mould, but I’m generally indifferent to small inaccuracies. Big inaccuracies, like Gemini/JCW’s hideous A350 nose, that’s just not a good thing, but this doesn’t have enough in the way of ‘stand out’ faults to warrant so much complaint.

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The technical detail, is just as good as anything we see now, indeed the overall quality and print is first-rate. This is of course pre-aerials (they were a late 2012 ‘innovation’), and there’s nothing to find fault with – and you know if I could, I would!

2.Wings and landing gear

The wings are typical Phoenix, the same now as then. An excellent mould swamped in paint so thick there’s barely any mould detail left.

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The gear is silver hydraulics, loose rotating bogies, and lump free, rotating wheels. No door issues, nothing to complain of.

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3.Engines

Despite the old fashioned silver paint, rims are neat and surprisingly precise. The fan colour is in fact not the rim silver, but a darker titanium colour, though a bit on the heavy particle side. Overall though, its way better than I’d have expected of the period.

Exhaust cones are neat, paint correct and the nacelles tidy.

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4.Nose detail

Better than expected for its age and exceeds expectations. Neat, tidy, with only the to-this-day question; what’s with the hyper-thick window frames?

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5.Tail detail

The tail is a crucial part of the livery on this, and it’s beautifully done. Horizontal stabilizers look as though they might have been pushed in a tad more, but that’s a very minor complaint.

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6.Colours

Problem free.

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7.Score and conclusions

Really, it has nothing wrong with it, which frankly, for the period, is slightly surprising!

It wasn’t in service for long, and five different manufacturers made versions of it at the time (though not Gemini), but it does make an interesting addition to the cargo fleet!

I’m really rather pleased with it!

My recommendation: A surprising find and a really rather nice model. excellent addition to the collection.

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