FedEx 727-247F N235FE Gemini Jets GJTWA439 1:400 2004


Today I’m going to take a slightly off-centre look at this one and maybe have a rant, a minor excursion into some opinionated discourse, because once again, someone tried to tell me what I can, and cannot write in their opinion, and what I should stick to. Red rags and bulls come to mind, but that’s later on…

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The logo above is the appropriate one for the period of this model. I was surprised to find out, despite years in brand management, (and it’s one of those things you can see instantly once it’s pointed out, and wonder how you never noticed it before), that there is a spoon in the lower case ‘e’ Fed, and an arrow in the upper case ‘E’. and lower case ‘x’. How did I not see that? Hiding in plain sight things couldn’t be more invisible.

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This model was obtained for a reasonable price on eBay.

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This photo was taken Jan 6th 2015. She was still there in February 2016, the last available date on Google Earth. Can you believe she’s 40 years old?

This aircraft has a long history. She started life as N282W for Western Airlines in 1977, delivered on the 29th March. Western were a long established airline, founded in 1926 and passing into history in 1987 as the merger with Delta concluded. The 727 was the mainstay of their fleet, with 46 in service.

She was removed from passenger service in 1995 and converted for FedEx as N235FE and named Stephanie in 1996, then transferred to Canadian carrier Morning Star Air Express as C-FMEA in March 2005. She then came back to Fedex on the N235FE registration again, in October 2010, before being stored at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International in late 2014.

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This is a very old model and a very old mould. Over-thick wings, cradle mould, wobbly paint, an almost toy-like look about it if you ger her from the wrong angles.

Usually models from this period (2004) are pretty good, low volume production (allegedly 2000 were made), which tended to ensure that quality was fairly OK. And I suppose it is overall. Print is pretty crisp, though it got damaged by an errant glue strand on the starboard side that blurred the paint.

Detail is OK, it’s not worse that the worst we see now, which you could argue doesn’t say much for what gets produced today.

2.Wings and landing gear

The cradle style mould doesn’t do it any favours. Why was that so prevalent back then? Was it simply the cheapest way of doing it, in a world where there is remarkably little development, especially once a formula has been settled on?

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The wings look ridculously thick, so much so that it almost seems like it could never take off.


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The gear is odd. There was no reason I could see for the way it arrived. One side, the entire unit was detached from the wing so it was easy to put back. The other was something else -it was broken off while the part that fitted the wing was still fixed solid. It wasn’t easy to put back but seems to have gone on well enough.  The old solid spigot tyres seem to be ageing badly, deterioration is clearly setting in, with cracks appearing.


These are OK. The 3 JT8D-15(HK3) look the part with the exception of the day-glo silver finish to the fans and exhausts, never mind the rims.

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4.Nose detail

Is OK really. Again, when you look at it and think they were doing this good a job in 2004, so how did a late 2016 A320 look like it was painted by a pre-school toddler group?

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5.Tail detail

The 727 is a splendid example of the Flash Gordon TriJet era, stick some missiles and a ray gun on it, and Ming The Merciless  would have used it to invade Earth, while throwing winged monkeys out of the tail door.

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The rear end looks over-weight, but yet it still has something about it that doesn’t make it look as old as it is in design terms. The models manufacturing methodology doesn’t fully do it justice either. I’d love to see an updated modern, slot in wings mould with new technologies applied, just to give it the edge it deserves, but that’ll never happen.

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No score, it wouldn’t be fair on a nearly 13 year old model. It’s a mildly clunky looking thing, but it has charm and personality, both of which perhaps come with age.

I may be of an age where it has come to me, and I can be charming, and kind, and generous, (in my own opinion of course), but I don’t suffer fools gladly, or let the soft afterglow of a new model mould soothe my forehead, and close my eyes to the flagrant crap that gets made, and we’re asked to pay for.

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What this model tells you about the industry is less appealing. It tells you that only now, after another decade has passed by, are we seeing new moulds from JCW/Gemini, and despite the technology, the detail, and easily available information, they still get them grossly wrong.

Some people seem to be apologists for these companies, Phoenix included. They tell us that we should be grateful for the new moulds, they tell us that what is blatantly, provably erroneous is good, and there’s a sort of suggestion that we should just play nice, and get what we’re given, and like it. As though, by being uncritical, except in the most genteel terms, like a bunch of ladies sat on a lawn eating cucumber sandwiches in white gloves, it will get us anywhere with manufacturers whose only interest is profit.

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When they deliver something so wonderful I can sing its praises, I’ll do so. But when all they can manage is commercially passable mediocrity little better than an afterthought model – and they’ve tried to get me to pay fifty quid for it, they can take a running jump, ideally from the back-end of a 727 piloted by a Prince Voltan, who looks remarkably like Brian Blessed, and shouts just as loudly.

And for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, the 1980 Flash Gordon film is most entertaining viewing. Max Von Sydow as Emperor Ming is not something you’ll forget. And it has a fantastic sound track by Queen.  Have a great weekend.

Next week there will be a Tuesday review on the 25th April, but no Friday review on the 28th April, as I’ll be in Munich, normal service will resume Tuesday 2nd May. 

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All words and photos (unless otherwise indicated) ©Jon Champs 2013-2017