MAS Kargo A330-200F 9M-MUA JC Wings LH4046 1:400 2017

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Malaysia Airlines suffered more than it’s fair share of tragedy in the last few years, and added to that it’s once significant cargo arm has been whittled down to just a trio of A332F’s, victims of the massive consolidation, and thinning out of a cargo capacity in 2008-9, 2011-12 and again in 2014-16, that devastated many of the passenger airlines cargo fleets around the world.

That consolidation was brought on by two significant events, the first the worldwide recession, which cleaned out the really poor carriers – and there were many of them, the second the contraction in the recession being delayed for the more stable airlines, because the SE Asia/Far Eastern and Australian markets continued to feel it far less than the rest of the world.

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The third was more significant and far more impactful longer term.  The Chinese and SE Asian cargo markets had their dive, along with a general air cargo contraction that reversed all of the previous years recovery.  On top of that two aircraft started to enter service in larger numbers – the A380 and more importantly, the 787; both have huge cargo capacity in their belly holds. Add to that growing competition from well-financed and highly predatory Etihad, Qatar and especially Emirates with its vast A380 fleet, and you had a recipe for a cargo fleet meltdown.

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Thai Cargo, Malaysian, some of the Chinese smaller carriers, even the likes of Cathay Pacific who’d ordered 748F’s would all feel the pain. Even Singapore Airlines shrank its fleet of cargo carriers. The big western airlines,  like Air France-KLM are still shrinking theirs, BA totally gave up, returning three leased 748F’s and handing its cargo arm, in effect to one of its major shareholders, Qatar. Lufthansa has made no bones about the fact that it’s cargo arm has only just held its head above water, and further contraction is already underway.  Even Emirates has had to face the fact that it’s 744F’s no longer make any sense.

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Air cargo is deathly cut-throat – passenger carriers have nothing on cargo competition, and every load is fought for tooth and nail. It really is do or die for many of the surviving carriers.

Yet there is a strategic benefit to keeping some capacity. Government can force some cargo through national airlines, certain industries and goods may only be permitted to fly on specified carriers, and sometimes, it’s just in a government’s interest to maintain a minimal cargo capacity just in case it needs it.

MAS had ordered four aircraft at the height of what seemed like a cargo boom, but they were delivered into a cargo recession. One was leased out to Turkish Airlines on delivery and will not be back, now going to Royal Jordanian.

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JC Wings has done us cargo fans a favour by releasing the A332F, even though the number of them in service is under 40. You’ve already seen the Hong Kong Airlines version and they released two of those, as well as two of these in MAS Kargo livery. The other was 9M-MUD with “Malaysia welcomes Fu Wa & Feng Yi” tiles on the rear quarters, and a huge panda on the front quarters.

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Sister 9M-MUD

Etihad Cargo (5), Avianca Cargo (6), Hong Kong Air Cargo Carrier (1), Hong Kong Airlines (4), MAS Kargo (3), Qatar Cargo (8), and Turkish Airlines Cargo (9) account for all 36 in service. Royal Jordanian Cargo are about to take up one of the ex-Malaysian (ex 9M-MUC that was leased to Turkish temporarily as OE-IFJ), any time soon, as it was transferred back to DVB Bank Leasing for onward sale on June 6th 2017, bringing the active total back to 37.

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1.Fuselage

It’s a starkly efficient livery, which is polite for saying bland. The fuselage though is excellent, an excellent mould, full of detail, even with a moulded-in comms dome and of course the huge under-nose self-levelling hydraulics dome. The gear is no different to the standard aircraft. The hydraulics merely ensure a level loading deck if it goes nose down or tail up.

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2.Wings and landing gear

Unlike the passenger version, the wings are at the correct angle, and very nice wings they are too. Superbly painted, excellent mould, great fit and finish. Even below there is detail.

Landing gear is very good, really some of the best JCW have ever deployed.

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3.Engines

The Pratt & Witney PW4170’s are very distinctive and a lot nicer looking than the Rolls Royce Trent’s. They’re also the only real difference between this and the Hong Kong Airlines version (other than livery of course).

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Rims are excellent, the big fans are a good titanium-ish but still too silver colour, and the nacelle detail s good, not that there is much of it.  Exhausts are neat, well painted and accurate.

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4.Nose detail

Simple, perfectly detailed, the hydraulics dome is superb, cockpit excellent. Outstanding.

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5.Tail detail

Perfect, as is the logo.

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6.Colours

Not much to go wrong really is there? What there is, red, blue and the Malaysian flag, are excellent.

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7.Score and conclusions.

I know for some people these are boring cargo aircraft, but some like me, love cargo as much, some more than passenger aircraft. The A332F is a big deal, because nobody else has even attempted to cater for such a niche model.

This one despite its bland simplicity, is perfect. 100%. Can I just mention that that’s twice JC Wings have scored 100% this year – nobody else has yet.

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Now I have to be honest, I love this model, it’s so neat and so detailed, it really is a twin of the real thing, JCW deserve full marks for a superb effort, even though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

My recommendation: No self-respecting cargo enthusiast could possibly do without one of these in their collection, and the best thing is, they’re generally not very expensive. 

 

 

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