FedEx A310-324F N802FD Gemini Jets 1:400 GJFDX332 2004

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PUBLICATION DATES OVER EASTER VACATION 2018

PLEASE NOTE PUBLICATION RESUMES FRIDAY 6th APRIL.

I’ve been timing the model supply to match my vacation times so please note that publication resumes on Friday April 6th, and then twice weekly Tuesdays and Fridays. It’s not possible to write reviews from San Francisco without the models, but AviationNews.online will continue as normal.


I have been looking for a FedEx A310 for a very long time. They rarely come up and if this example is anything to go by, with just 2,000 made 14 years ago, that’s no real surprise.

Bidding on e-Bay for this was intense, with six different people all willing to pay good money for it, it sold in the end for just short of £48 (US$67).

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I wanted it because FedEx has been keeping many of its last A310’s in service. So committed are they to them that they’ve contracted to have Flight Management System upgrades to their A300-600 and A310-300 fleets to accommodate an increasing number of way-points and to fly RNP routes, including Radius-to-Fix Leg.

Aircraft Interface Devices for its fleet are included in the update, that provide satellite connectivity and data, such as updated weather forecasts to the crew during flight.

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FedEx is also equipping to comply with upcoming NextGen mandates by upgrading all FedEx Express aircraft transponders to DO-260B requirements in order to comply with the FAA’s FAR 91.225 requirement. The mandate lays out the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment requirements necessary to operate in certain classes of airspace, effective Jan 1 2020.

The avionics updates in the surviving aircraft are extensive, and they’re all expected to operate for at least another 10-20 years, ideally to 2040.

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Having said all that this aircraft isn’t one of them, but from a collection/diorama point of view who’ll know?

What was interesting was the aircraft history. She was one of Pan Am’s last new aircraft deliveries, on 26th June 1990 as N824PA (Pan Am ceased operations on Dec 4 1991).

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Delta took delivery of her in November 1991 on the same registration, but fleet number 034. They sold her during the recession of the early 1990’s to Air India as V2-LED in December 1994. Air India sold her to Merpati of Indonesia as PK-MAX in September 1996. On August 6th 1998 she was sold back to the US and re-registered as N824PA for Partnairs US Leasing, who sold her to AirPlus Comet of Spain in July 1999, they only kept her until November 2000 when FedEX bought her and converted her to cargo.

As FedEx, she carried the name Saeed and fleet number 802 following conversion at Dresden-Kloch in Germany. She was stored at Victorville on January 3rd 2012 and has been broken up for spares over a lengthy period.

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I don’t think she’s going back into service! March 2015.

1.Fuselage

The mould looks almost new at this point, but I do think the nose is a little flat. The A310 is the sort of short, fat, wide body that in a new guise is the basis for the 797-X. I often wonder if Airbus don’t think they could have stolen a march on Boeing with a new version of it, but that’s not going to happen. Why spend money on something new when something old and tired like the A321 will do with some tweaks and new engines.

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The condition of the model is a credit to is former owner, its one of the older ones in the collection now, and it shows that even back there, in 2004, Gemini were capable of excellence. If you took delivery of this model now, with a few minor updates – aerials, better landing gear and darker engine fans, you’d be very happy.

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Overall, all of the detail is present, and its superbly done, fine, precise and neat, and to the correct scale. It makes you wonder what on earth happened to some of those later A320’s and the junk Gemini have spewed out of late that doesn’t come close to matching this level of quality on a model run of 2,000 units.

2.Wings

The cradle mould was typical of the period of course, but it has to be said that when new, it’s a superb example of how to do it right. Seamless and tight-fitting from the sides and above, only underneath does it have gaps. In those days though, the wings were assembled onto the model after the paint dried, so it looks like a quality finish rather than the gappy misfit we get these days.

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The standards and quality of the paint are also excellent and entirely in keeping with the aircraft itself. Somebody did their research in those days, a feature of model making Gemini seem keen to avoid now – especially when it comes to wing colours.

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3.Landing gear

Plastic black wheels on spigots is typical of the period, and they’re not very nice. This set has black lumps on the tyres from the original mould. However the quality of the doors and the general finish has something that can only be described as quality, the paint isn’t thin or slapdash, its neat and its accurate, the metal and plastic looks well made.

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4.Engines

The fans…oh God the fans! While the P&W 4152’s mould and spinners is detailed, the super-brilliant unrealistic silver is horrible – but – and this is important, it’s incredibly neat and refined. No lumps, no bumps, no runs or flakes.

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It’s not right, but it’s very good quality, which makes it seem less offensive. The exhausts and nacelles are also excellent, along with the pylons. Overall it’s a very neat and refined quality finish. It looks as though someone cared about it.

 

5.Nose detail

For this age/period and scale its excellent. Only one thing is missing; the aircraft name, Saeed, should be by the bottom corner of the cockpit windows.

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All this demos is how awful those Gemini stairs are up close….

6.Tail detail

Superb paint, superb quality, outstandingly put together.

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7. Colours

Spot on, issue free.

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8.Conclusion

Another example of Gemini as it used to be, when they cared and quality mattered. It’s a lovely model, and when people say I give Gemini a hard time, its benchmark models like this that demonstrate quite clearly how decline has set in over the years, as money and image matter more than quality of product.

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For those who celebrate Easter/St Pacques, happy holidays, for those who don’t, us Brits get a Friday-Monday holiday so most have two weeks off either side of it. Add that to my parents 65th wedding anniversary celebrations the week before…So, the next review is on April 6th…Any one of six new Gemini’s could be on the list!

If you’re short of things to read….there are 490 reviews on this site now going back to 2014…and there’s always AviationNews.Online which will be updated as normal. The wonders of mobile publishing!

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