TAAG Angola Airlines 777-3M2ER D2-TEG Phoenix 1:400 11140 2015

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There’s a bit of history here, it’s a fascinating insight into how the 777 is changing the face of a nation, and the good, and bad, that aviation brings to society, so please bear with me. It wasn’t my intention to write so much, but the more I researched it, the more interesting it became…the importance of aviation in this instance can’t be overlooked.

You may not know where Angola is – it’s in South Western Africa, North of Namibia. At one point during the 1970’s and 1980’s it was a fierce Cold War battleground between Soviet surrogate forces operated by Cuba, and East Germany, in support of one of three separate guerilla armies, one that remained unsupported by anyone, and soon lost ground, and another supported by the South African apartheid government, then still in control of Namibia, supported by the US and Europe.

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The war was brutal and made worse by a similar war on the other side of Africa in Mozambique. These two had been Portuguese colonies that gained independence in 1975. The marxist government in Angola wasn’t everyone’s ideal and civil war soon broke out.

The war ran through most of the 1980’s and only finally subsided when the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba couldn’t sustain its involvement without the Russians, East Germany ceased to exist, and nobody was going to win. A brief peace in 1991 didn’t last – bitter fighting carried on until 2002, ignored by the rest of the world.

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Ironically up to this point, the entire country was considered worthless economically. Part savanna, part desert, part tropical rain forest, it had little going for it other than potential tourism, and endless fighting had made exploration and exploitation impossible. Then the war ended. Angola was quickly found to be sitting on vast oil reserves, and even more extensive mineral deposits and rare earths.

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From rags to riches, Angola’s economy hasn’t stopped expanding at break-neck speed, with the US and China vying for influence (China’s winning as it does everywhere), it’s one of the fastest growing economies on Earth. The capital, Luanda is an ultra-expensive city with a very small, and very wealthy elite, as befits a marxist-lite government of course, and some of the worst health care and infant mortality in Africa, if not the world. 1.4 million people face starvation in 2016-17, and severe droughts persist into 2017 suggesting it will only get worse. Average life span is just 40 years – the same as Britain in the early 1600’s.

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Angola’s people had no expertise, schooling had been almost unheard, at best minimal, for 40 years,  the country is riddled with over 12 million land mines. Huge numbers of foreigners are needed to prop up the multi-nationals exploiting the countries resources. And to get them there you need something only wealthy countries can afford to buy – an effective long haul airline.

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TAAG operates 5 777-300ER’s the last of which was only delivered in late 2016, along with 3 barely ten-year old 772ER’s, and 5 737-700’s. With some 99% of the population near or effectively destitute, the customer base is almost uniquely foreign workers.

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Again, the irony is, having thrown off Portuguese rule, most of them are Portugese, flying in from Lisbon, or Portugese speaking Brazilians flying in from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. An additional, and painful irony, is that Angola was the source of millions of slaves exported to Brazil in the 15th-19th centuries.

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The 777 fleet has been instrumental in making Angola’s economic advances possible, not that most Angolans are seeing any benefit. The 777’s permit the influx of modern-day colonists, fleeing from poor opportunities and high unemployment in their home countries, thus improving their lives, while ordinary Angolans, victims of 40 years of war, can barely make ends meet or even feed themselves. The impact of long-range aviation can have very odd, and sometimes disturbing consequences.

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The livery is based on the colours of the national flag. D2-TEG is named Sagrada Esperança, and fitted with 14 first class, 56 business, and 225 economy seats. She was first delivered in 2011. The fact there is a market for First Class in a poverty ridden country is another indicator of a distorted economy.

The airline is now managed by Emirates (without an ownership stake), and British executives are effectively in charge of its development on contract.

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1.Fuselage

Standard Phoenix 773ER mould so there is very little to moan about overall, and a lot to praise. However, it may start to look dated as both Phoenix and JCW seem to be indicating they’re about to introduce rotating fan engines.

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The aerials and technical detail are all excellent, as is the overall quality of the print. The orange and red are ideal candidates for a paint problem, but it has to be said, Phoenix have managed to apply the colours fault free, without blurs and over runs. In fact, it’s all pretty much perfect!

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2.Wings and landing gear

The usual super-high-gloss finish, but it’s the right colour and there’s plenty of detail up top, there is zero detail underneath. Both wings are remarkably flush with the fuselage, it’s all a very good fit.

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The bogies are the usual huge 6 wheel variety with a massive amount of tilt. All the tyres and wheels are lump free and rotate perfectly. Not sure about the grey paint on the hydraulics, I prefer a very fine silver-grey.  Nose gear is excellent with no issues.

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3.Engines

A truly splendid pair of engines it has to be said. The rims are neat and superbly finished, the fans a dark titanium – very realistic looking, and they’ve even bothered to put the white centre pin on, something quite rare. Even the exhausts are exceptionally neat, though a little bright.

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The nacelles are painted the correct grey and the big TAAG logo is neatly done.

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4.Nose detail

In keeping with the rather dated looking 1970’s livery , the cockpit windows above the nose have extra black – not dissimilar to the A350/A330neo ‘Batman’ mask. The paint finish is excellent.

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5.Tail detail

Neatly put together although I’d have said the left horizontal could have been pushed in further, it’s very minor.  Paint is excellent as is the tail logo of a Giant Sable Antelope (in Portuguese palanca-negra-gigante), renowned for its exceptionally long horns that can grow up to 65″ (1.65m), which serves as the national symbol of unity.

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6.Colours

The remarkably dated livery seems to have first appeared in the late 1970’s and yet, there is a certain charm about it. It certainly isn’t bland, and it certainly stands out from the bland white primary adopted by so many out of cheapness. Phoenix have done an excellent job of the colours and they look first rate.

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7.Score and conclusions

  • -2 for the not quite perfectly fitted left horizontal stabilizer
  • 98%

Remarkable as it may seem, I cannot find anything seriously wrong with this model. It seems to be a gem of a discovery. It may be tardy to the party, and I wish I’d have gotten in sooner, but it’s a remarkably neat model, and I rather like it.

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My recommendation: Get one if you can, it’s actually a really nice model and adds something different to a modern collection.

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Photos & words unless otherwise stated, ©JonChamps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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