Rossiya 777-300 EI-UNP “Far Eastern Leopard” Phoenix 11378 1:400 May 2017

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Rossiya, based at St Petersburg Pulkovo, is an Aeroflot subsidiary. It takes the name of the largest of three smaller Aeroflot subsidiaries (Orenair and Donavia were the other two), the Russian government decided to forcibly acquire, in order to make Aeroflot itself more viable financially.

The aircraft types are now mostly former Transaero units, absorbed after the Russian Government in effect, forced that airline to its knees and into bankruptcy, to ensure Aeroflot was given opportunity to flourish. There’s nothing like a government sanctioned monopoly to ensure something is financially successful in modern Russia.

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At Haeco in Xiamen for refurbishment

Back last year I bought the Phoenix 744 in the new Rossiya livery – despite the models awful mould and wings, but after a while it grated on me that it looked like a duck trying to take off from a pond, so it was sold. This was the replacement, but I only bought it this week, though I didn’t order the Asian Amur Leopard livery version, only the standard version EI-ENN. Still It’s here now and it’s better than I expected.

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As it happens I was enjoying watching a  re-run of the iconic BBC documentary Blue Planet on my 4K TV courtesy of Netflix – it looked even more spectacular than it did 17 years ago, and one of the animals mentioned is the Asian Amur or Far Eastern Leopard. There were just 40 left in the wild then, and even now there’s believed to be no more than 60, and it will be hyper-endangered for years to come. When you realise that its primary home is that cheerful missile toting madhouse North Korea, and the Sino-Russian-DPRK border, its chances seem grim.

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So conscience assuaged that this isn’t such a bad thing to have, I resolved to keep it. The livery is a second attempt to give the airline a heart and promote wildlife preservation, as President Putin is very keen on being seen to wrestle bare-chested with wild animals, or as they call it in Russia, conservation.

The previous attempt was actually Transaero on a 744 that was subsequently re-sprayed into Rossiya livery, keeping the endangered Asian Tiger on the nose.

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The Asian Tiger on former Transaero, now Rossiya 744 N914UN

Rossiya operates 5 773’s at present, this one is named Ussurisk and is fitted with 18 business class and 355 economy, as well as a pair of RR Trent 892’s. Previously registered as 9V-SYB she dates back to 1998 and Singapore Airlines, (and was one of the first of the new 300’s delivered), who withdrew her in 2011. She was moved to Transaero in 2012 and eventually Rossiya after periods in storage. she was refurbished and repainted at Haeco’s vast facility in Xiamen, China.

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1.Fuselage

The standard Phoenix fuselage of course, three upper and one lower aerial, all well seated and painted. There is also an add-on comms dome, unusually neat and well fitted on the roof.

The livery and technical detail are first-rate. The Port side has everything in cyrillic (Russian) alphabet and the starboard side in English. Just behind door 2 there is an Amur Leopard logo neatly applied on both sides.

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The paint is generally very good, just a couple of quite small blips of red into white on the transition line that are only visible under magnification.

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2.Wings and landing gear

Being the original 773, she has the “old’ square ended wings which are somewhat less elegant than the more advanced ER versions from later years. Phoenix seem to have restrained themselves a little on the paint thickness and there is visible detail. I suspect this is partly down to the design of the older wing. The underneath is over glossed and detail free.

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What there is, is well painted, fault free and very neat, including decent leading edges and escape runs.

The landing gear is silver hydraulics, a bit too bright, but the main gear is better quality than we’ve seen in recent times. All the tyres rotate and are lump free.

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Nose gear wasn’t in straight again though, and had to be coaxed into position, though if I didn’t tell you I’d done it, you wouldn’t be able to tell.

3.Engines

The early 777’s were given engine options;  General Electric GE90’s, Pratt & Whitney PW4000, or Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engines. Singapore Airlines chose the Rolls Royce units which were specifically designed for these aircraft. In the end Rolls Royce took 41% of the 777 market but Boeing went with GE exclusively when the ER version was proposed, not least because the others were unconvinced that the cost of developing such an expensive engine could ever be recovered; a trend that has only been bucked by the 787 in the widebody market since it went into production, and looks set to stay in future.

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The Trent 800 was, in the eyes of many, the better engine, so much so that BA swaped from the GE to the RR in later orders. One distinct advantage was that 777’s with Trent 800’s are an astonishing 3.6 tonnes lighter than the other options.

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The model rims are good but not brilliant. The fans are a very good dark titanium colour. The nacelles are excellent, and the exhausts match well. Overall a high standard, but some of the sliver has leaked back into the dark grey inner rim on both engines.

4.Nose detail

Mildly freaky. The poor old leopard looks like its wearing Geordi La Forge’s eye piece from Star Trek The Next Generation, because of the position of the cockpit windows. In fact it’s made slightly odder by the fact its eyes are below it. Now face on it doesn’t look too bad, and if you’re looking up at it, it seems less of a problem. From a model perspective, where for the most part you look down on it, it’s a bit strange.

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However it’s actually a pretty good piece of detail, remarkably high-definition and superbly finished. Congratulations to Phoenix on getting it to look really good.

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5.Tail detail

The port side horizontal stabilizer isn’t as well fixed in as it should have been. It needs another push to close the gap.Other than that everything seems fine and the paint detail is excellent.

 

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6.Colour

The basic grey-white and the bright orange-red are excellent and the whole thing looks superb. The leopard looks great from a colour perspective.

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7.Score and conclusion

  • -2 for the nose gear not being in place on delivery
  • -1 for the engine inner rim silver
  • -3 for the not properly fitted horizontal stabilizer
  • 94% is a very respectable score indeed. Well done Phoenix.

My personal opinion is that it’s overall, a pretty good model, much of what has been wrong in the past has been corrected. However being Phoenix, like the Eye of Sauron, when it concentrates on something it gets it done, no questions, but with The Eye fixed on one problem, who knows what the Orcs are up to out the back…

My recommendation: I’d definitely buy this, it’s got all more than enough going for it to make it a must have and it’s a fascinating livery. 

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