The over-arching strategy for my collection is to emphasise the airlines and aircraft of the period 2005-2020. That fifteen years will have seen one of the biggest changes in airlines and their aircraft in the history of aviation.
One of my favourite airlines is Lufthansa. I’ve never experienced a bad Lufthansa flight or service and I’m in and out of Frankfurt at least twice a month, I know it better than Heathrow. It’s therefore been a constant effort to find the right models that cover Lufthansa – ideally in standard livery, none of this Siegerflieger, Fanhansa and Olympic nonsense.
Phoenix seem institutionally incapable of getting the Lufthansa grey underbodies and engines right. Even Gemini fail on it from time to time. They even screwed up the first A359, painting the white in a bizarre custard cream tint. So neither are brilliant at what they do. You have to pick and choose and wait for the right model to appear on ebay or one of those swap sites on Facebook.
I’ve had several Lufthansa A343’s, but only the StarAlliance one, D-AIGC, from JC Wings has proven to be superior so far. The last time I got hold of this model, D-AIFE in the standard livery, it was a disaster and I sent it back. This time, someone was lucky enough to have gotten one of the few decent copies and I bought it.
Delivered on 29th October 2000, she started life in standard colours, then at her major D service was re-sprayed into StarAlliance livery in July 2015.
As part of Lufthansa’s transfer to Eurowings for low-cost long haul, she’s scheduled to be moved across to that airline brand, but is currently working for Lufthansa Cityline on long haul. There are several reasons this is the case, but one of them is that by operating for Cityline, she’s classed for emissions and noise regulations at Frankfurt as being in their airline average. When the rest are quiet CRJ-900’s with a low average, thrown in a couple of noisy, dirtier, aircraft, the average rises, but the low levels of more, quieter, cleaner, aircraft compensate, and sustain a well below legal average for the airline as a whole. What you might say is staying within the letter, but not the spirit of the law.
Named Passau, in this original guise she was fitted with 8 First class, 48 business class and 165 economy. On transfer to Cityline in March 2016 she was refitted with 18 business, 19 premium economy and 261 economy. She’s often found on routes to San Jose Minetta, Philadelphia, Montreal, Panama City, and Nairobi in Kenya.
The A343 mould isn’t too bad overall, although this 2014 model pre-dates the introduction of aerials and domes.
The only dome on the aircraft is one that’s been quite accurately painted grey above door three. To be honest it looks so good painted you could almost mistake it for being raised and it has a 3D quality to it.
The upper technical detail is excellent, crisp and clean, with a high degree of definition. Again, compare the quality of this in 2014 to the Virgin Australia of October 2017 and you wonder again, how and why has Gemini devolved so drastically?
The underbody grey is generally applied really well, although the tail end of it looks a little uneven, it doesn’t bleed or blur.
2.Wings and landing gear
For a cradle these are really well mounted and sealed, with the above view looking almost seamless. Even the rear gap is relatively small. The front isn’t perfect but it is pretty good. The white upper surfaces are nicely detailed without being over glossed.
Underneath is a matt grey, but more about that later.
Landing gear is silver, with slightly roughly painted grey doors. Wheels and tyres are good. The nose gear is excellent.
The usual CFM56 family with fans at the exhaust, though they are so recessed they haven’t been painted at the back. The front fans are a darker, less bright silver colour, but the rims are a tad rough, though far from being the worst I’ve ever seen.
There is lots of printed on detail on the nacelles, mostly underneath, which is excellent.
High definition, high detail and very neat, really nothing to complain about at all. It’s a really good front end and you’d be hard pressed to find better.
Superbly assembled, superb detail, problem free!
This is where the problem lies. The grey on the underbody and engines is far too dark, but not the worst. What isn’t helpful is that the gloss paint on the fuselage grey isn’t matched by the silk finish grey under the wings and used on the nacelles.
It’s the finish that causes the problem, not the colour, which is I’m pretty sure the same. It’s just that gloss and silk-matt doesn’t have the same reflective quality so it looks different.
7.Score and conclusions
- -10 for the paint finish and self-induced colour discrepancy it causes. Why would you do it? Clearly the wings were made separately from the fuselage and brought together later.
- 90% though. When did a Gemini score that high? Back in 2015.
How did Gemini manage this so well in 2014 but fail so badly with the A359 and its custard cream paint and then the Air India paint, the terrible mould on the Virgin Australia? It seems the more they charge the lower the quality. Maybe they’re testing the threshold to see how much collectors will put up with before they stop paying though the nose?
I’m about to start compiling a list of the models for the 2017 Model Of The Year which will be published on 29th December 2017 at 1200UTC – I have no idea who’s in the lead at the moment, but I’m suspecting we’re going to see a shift like we’ve never seen before.