Martinair has a long history, and is probably the only other recognisable Dutch airline apart from KLM. Established in 1958 as Martinair Holland, the “Holland” was dropped in 1991 when the Martinair Cargo title was introduced. Various combinations of shareholders came and went, but by 2008 with the recession crushing everything around it like a financial tsunami, Martinair asked KLM to become its shareholder and the EU agreed.
The airline had operated a number of short-haul passenger routes, but these stopped in November 2007 and it became solely a cargo business and long haul passenger airline. In 2006, with passengers returning to flying after the dislocation caused by 9-11, Martinair had bought 4 ex-Singapore Airlines 744’s. By 2009 the financial crisis was so severe and passenger travel in such steep decline all but one were mothballed.
The writing was on the wall for Martinair’s passenger operation, and in agreement with KLM in was shut down in November 2011.
Two of the 744’s were sold off to German Cargo in 2010.
The first MD-11CF’s had been obtained in 1994, with 4 entering service carrying 393 economy only passengers, OR cargo. These were all eventually converted to cargo on a permanent basis, and joined 3 other MD-11F’s, the last delivered in 2004 a cargo conversion from a 1991 Swiss MD-11.
Martinair had ordered three CF’s with two options, but two were delivered to World Airways after Martinair changed their order to four, they were the only two operators of the type.
This one, PH-MCP was line No.577, serial No.48616, and the first of only 6 McDonell-Douglas built as Convertible Freighters. They could be adapted for cargo use and back to passenger over the course of a day. The seats were palletized, using the cargo rollers, (which is why there was only one class), with segments being rolled out and stored, while a cargo liner replaced them to protect the inner walls. Unlike the 744 Combi, it wasn’t designed to carry cargo and people at the same time.
The MD-11CF featured a large forward port side cargo door (140 x 102 inches (3.6 m × 2.6 m)) located between the first two passenger doors. As a freighter, it could transport 26 pallets of the same dimensions (88 x 125 inches (2.2 m × 3.2 m)) or 96 x 125 inches (2.4 m × 3.2 m)). Main deck cargo volume was 14,508 cubic feet (410.8 m3) and offered a maximum payload of 196,928 pounds (89,325 kg).
Air France-KLM decided it couldn’t fully sustain a cargo operation across all three brands in 2015, during yet another big cargo slump, and Martinair was told to reduce its operations, eliminate all of the MD-11F’s and fly just one 744F, PH-MPS, which with three KLM Cargo 744F’s (and a handful of 744 Combis), along with two Air France 777F’s are all that’s left of the groups cargo operations.
PH-MCP was the last of the MD-11CF’s to fly and went into storage on 9 July 2016 at MHV (Mojave Air & Space Port). The image above taken by satellite on 30 July 2017 suggests they’re probably in line for scrap.
The box carries “Final Martinair MD-11 Flight Bogota-Miami-London-Amsterdam 26/27 June 2016” on the front under the aircraft image. There’s been a substantial improvement on internal packaging of late as well, with upper and lower anti-rub sheets in evidence.
Based on current USD rate to GBP of $1.3022 and to Euro of €0.84841
- USD Gemini Official Price: $47.95 (ex Tax) = £36.82 UK or €40.68 EU
- USD retailer price: $38.95 (ex Tax) = £29.91 UK, or €33.05 EU.
- Price if equal to USD exchange rate: Add 20% VAT (UK/EU average) = £35.89 UK, €39.66 EU
- UK List price: £50.04 discounted to £43.03 (includes 20% VAT) = $56.03 USD or €47.53 in the EU.
- This means that UK prices are inflated by £7.14 at the point of sale including TAX
- You can buy the model in Euros for €39.95 including tax which = £36.16. That’s £6.87 less than in the UK.
- On average, and it has nothing to do with exchange rates or Brexit, UK prices for this model are 19% More expensive than in EU or the US.
- Solution: get yourself a Revolut.com app, pre-load it with money, they give a commercial exchange rate, no charges, and you can buy direct in Euros avoiding PayPal fees, from somewhere like Aviationmegastore.com. So far this year I’ve saved £112 doing it this way.
I get a bit excited when MD-11’s arrive. This is one I’ve waited for, for a very long time.
The mould is ancient but for all of that it’s not been used that much, other than churning out one after the other of UPS or FedEx there hasn’t been much to do. The adoption of aerials a couple of years added some life to it.
The overall print quality is very high, made mildly more complicated by having a dense set of windows running through the main logos. However it’s been managed very well and it’s problem free.
One thing that hasn’t worked is the European Union Flag, which appears as a black square in front of the registration. It should be blue with yellow stars. Now you can say that’s being picky but really, if Phoenix can do it, or JC Wings manages it, in the correct colours – some of them more complex than that, so can Gemini. It’s a failure to differentiate the colour from the black print. Yes its tiny, but this is typical of things Gemini do now, that they never used to get wrong.
Other than that It’s a very neat model, even though the domes and so on are just print lines on the roof.
2.Wings and landing gear
Of course it’s the cradle system, a rare enough thing these days. On this model it fits beautifully, no twisted wings or misplaced fitting. It’s a bit gappy at the rear end, but that’s the nature of the beast with this system and I’ve seen much, much worse.
What I find fascinating is the ‘recipe’ for these models. Despite technological improvements little changes. The wings get the same old thick paint and shiny metal uppers, even when that’s not really the way most up to date models (especially JC Wings latest offerings), are made. It’s like there’s a preset methodology and programme run, and be damned if anyone wants to do the work to bring it up to date.
The result is garish bright silver leading edges that aren’t like that on the real thing at all, and never were, along with obscured, overpainted detail. This is where model presentation goes beyond realism. I’d prefer realism, not toyism.
The landing gear however is excellent, no lumps, good wheels and tyres all round. This time all three sets of main gear touched the ground as well. Nose gear is a little off. The doors aren’t recessed deeply enough and it makes the gear look too short when it isn’t.
The two wing-mounted Pratt&Witney 4462’s look the part from the sides and rears, even the rims are neat and well finished. That old recipe though, silver fans again! And, again, they never were; the highly recessed fans are nearly black on the real thing, with a white centre, none of which is shown.
The tail engine is something else all together. The fan on that is deep inside the intake, and that’s fine, but the inner rims are red from paint that’s gotten into the rim and it’s quite visible. The intake is showing two types of silver grey, which have been excellently done. The only thing is I can’t see one photo over several years that suggests this is realistic, in any way. The exhaust paint is too light and the centre is white, though that’s a minor concern.
The model is full of detail and I’m really pleased by the sharpness, and clarity of it.
Again there’s loads of detail, but it’s slightly unrealistic. For example the rear doors and escape shute detail are white and silver respectively on the model. On the real thing they’re black. In fact the same can be said for all of the escape shute panels. The port rear underside has an odd little door that barely even notices on the real thing but seems almost excessively dark and detailed on the model.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m pleased it’s there, but it’s all part of this thing where Gemini don’t seem to be bothered to update small detail any more – or even get it right in the first place. It’s odd because the technical execution of incorrect detail is remarkably good!
There’s an exquisite irony in all of that, and I so wish there wasn’t.
Other than that the red strip tail is excellent, stabilizers well fitted and problem free, (so I thought) save for the over bright silver leading edges again. And then I went to pick the model up and the port side horizontal fell out. It had been pushed in well, but there’s no glue to keep it in.
No problems other than those detail issues mentioned above – white red, black; the main livery is fine.
7.Score and conclusion
- -5 for all of the door escape shute paint detail being silver and not black or the door frame colour being wrong
- -3 for the red inner centre engine intake over-spray, it’s simply too visible to ignore
- -2 for the nose gear doors being too low
- -3 for silver fans. So wrong, so easy to correct.
- -3 for the lack of glue on the port horizontal stabilizer
- 84% is about what I’d expect for an old Gemini model, but for premium prices I expect premium quality, and this isn’t that.
Well, these MD-11CF’s are history now, Martinair as a company surely isn’t far behind. I sometimes wonder if AF-KLM isn’t a bit scared of just deleting the brand and merging it all into one? In the end its possibly the last of the major European cargo carriers to become the victim of the 2008/2009 financial collapse and subsequent recessions. It’s sad to see these airlines vanish one after the other, for now it seems to have stopped though.
I’m glad that at the end of the day this didn’t cost me much more than buying it in the US. New financial products like Revolut are revolutionising our options to pay for goods and services anywhere in the world without fees and charges. While we’re inside the EU there is no customs or tax issue, and even outside of it I suspect it won’t make much difference to small-time buyers. Delivery charges can take out some of the savings, but even with them, three models in one delivery and you’re still saving a tidy sum. Out of five models in this delivery, it’s the equal to getting one free as opposed to buying in the UK.
I don’t like by-passing UK businesses, but I won’t be ripped off by Gemini.
My recommendation: If cargo matters to you, if you’re an MD-11 fan, this is a must, but just check your buying options if you’re a UK purchaser.
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