Delta Airlines A350-900 N502DN Gemini Jets 1:400 GJDAL1724 March 2018

Delta-Air-Lines

This is the second of Gemini’s Delta offerings in the shape of the A359, the first being over a year ago now.

I’ve never been thrilled by either Phoenix or JCWings/Gemini’s A359/A35K offerings. Both are far too flawed in different ways and neither manufacturer is doing a thing about it. If ever there was an example of a model that had a passing resemblance to the real thing, rather than being an accurate representation, the two manufacturers A359/A35K offerings are it.

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The box lid technical drawing at the top, pretty much as it should be, the model inside below – Nothing on Earth will convince me anyone really thinks the model is more accurate, it’s nothing like the actual aircraft.

The biggest problem with the JCW mould used here is the awfully inaccurate nose section. JCW jumped the gun with the mould, producing the penultimate Airbus design – which was then modified following flight simulator and visibility testing, to increase the angle of the cockpit windows. The mould was never updated to accommodate this change. Somewhat abysmally, they didn’t bother to update the A35K when they had the chance, preferring to carry on in ignorance and hope nobody noticed.

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One of the A350’s extraordinary design features is the way perspective changes perception of detail. The nose and the wing tips frequently look nothing like the technical diagrams, it depends on where you see them from. Only profile side and head on views show the reality.

The bizarre thing is the diagram on the front of the Gemini box for this model has the accurate shape of the nose – and the model inside looks like it’s not even the same thing – because it isn’t!

In fact, as I did the photos for this and the CSeries at the same time, when viewing the thumbnails to allocate them into editing files, I was struck by how similar the wrong-nosed A359 looks to the CSeries. Size aside, the same solutions are inevitable in aircraft design it seems.

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The A359 is something model manufacturers are going to continue to have a problem with. Airbus has quietly committed to a process of rolling upgrades to the airframe and wings over time. All A359’s from the first Iberia delivery onwards, will have the A359ULR wing tips – 35% larger and much taller than those on the current versions. All A35K’s will incorporate them too.

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Other tweaks – including an apparent wing root alteration to accommodate larger fuel tanks are expected. Will the model reflect the changes? What do you think? Exactly.

Delta is a significant customer for the A350 programme, using them to replace its 744 fleet, it already has 8 in service and 17 more are yet to be delivered at the time of writing.

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Fitted with 32 Delta One Suites in a 1-2-1 configuration (although the front and rearmost are in a 0-2-0), then it has a separate cabin with 48 Delta Premium Select in a typical premium economy layout of 2-4-2. The rear cabin with 226 standard economy seats fill the rest of the space with a 3-3-3 in all but two rows, 40 in a 2-3-2 exit row, and 55 in a 0-3-0, which has some terrible reviews for being jammed in between the rear galleys, two sets of toilets, and having no recline because of the bulkhead wall. Guess which ones the cheap seats are!

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1.Fuselage

Well I’ve gone on about the nose and I’m not going to repeat myself. I think one of the reasons it annoys me so much is that the rest of the mould is in places better than the Phoenix version.  Put the nose fault to one side and the overall precision and sharpness of the mould is mildly superior.

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It’s not fair, but often various model types have a “better side”. On the JCW/Gemini A359 it’s the right…mostly

The way the wing root works, the sharpness of the V shape air intakes are examples. However while it’s superior in some ways it’s sorely lacking in others.

It has no underbody aerials which is frankly shockingly poor at these prices points – the Phoenix has two as standard. It does have three up top, as does the Phoenix, but where the Phoenix has moulded-in domes – of which there are three – one forward two centre, on the Gemini they’re just print-ons. The main dome at the rear is too small and not the right shape. It’s also not brilliantly fitted and the mould isn’t very good.

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Dome mould is rough, the wrong shape and doesn’t fit properly

Graphics and printed detail, windows and technical are all good, but some detail like the registration look a bit weak and poorly printed. The blue paint from the underside has been spoilt behind the left wing over the ridge in the wing root, looking slightly blurred and rough, even chipped.

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There is also, and it becomes obvious in strong light, a couple of patches on the starboard rear quarter above the cargo door and below the windows, a darker patch because the white paint is too thin. In fact that’s a running theme on this model, there’s a perception, when you look carefully that the paint thickness isn’t entirely even.

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2.Wings

Excellent mould, superbly fitted, accurate from above, plain and simple below. The wing tips, originally a problem on early versions of the A350 model have long been corrected.

Delta also chose the matt aluminium leading edge finish – I have asked about this and the finish is a customer option, some choose to just go for a matt pale grey. The JCW/Gemini silver finish is more accurate, and less obtrusive – Phoenix tend to over-do this in width.

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The paint finish is creamy coloured and not the bright white of the fuselage, paint is again too thin to the point of being clearly obvious

Overall the wing moulds are outstanding.  The exception; the finish on the right wing is extremely thin in places, failing to even get into the mould grooves properly, which looks unsightly, and there is a creamy colour to the paint, rather than being as bright as the fuselage.

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The slightly creamy white of the wings is clear under a daylight bulb – they show colour up for what it really is.

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3.Landing gear

When new, Delta have the wheels painted white, Gemini chose to only paint the outer sets and left the inner sets grey plastic. Overall the gear and doors are very good as moulds, but the right side forward set refuse to rotate. Again, part of the running theme with this model, the gear doors ar thinly painted and there is yet again, signs of what looks like brown sewage running down the hydraulics.

The nose gear is very good, but tyres are lumpy.

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The rear edges of the gear doors are thinly painted, brown sludge is visible again, you can clearly see the paint line issue – it almost looks like it was cut or dropped in production, the fronts & rears of the bogies are not well sealed.
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It’s hard, but look under the registration above the cargo door, and there is a patch of thin paint, another slightly forward, big gaps in landing gear seals

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4. Engines

The updated pylons have been excellently finished with the bare aluminium leading edge modification very well done.

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The rims and fans are an excellent mould, the rims well painted, but the fans remain too silver – darker than usual it has to be said, but still far too light – they really would be better if model makers would just paint them matt black.

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Nacelles are Delta Blue, the exhaust mould isn’t especially accurate or detailed, the paint with the grey cone a tiny bit messy against the lighter silver. It has to be said that the Phoenix is slightly better in this respect.

5.Nose detail

Technical print and detail is first class, the main cockpit windows of course are all wrong because the entire nose section is the wrong shape, but while wrong, they’re beautifully done.

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6.Tail detail

Superbly detailed and painted, well fitted. The red logo on the blue has worked really well.

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There’s quite a bit of bubbly glue showing through on the blue, and similar glue issues under the wings, otherwise very nicely fitted.

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7.Colours

No issues. Lets face it if Gemini can’t get Delta right they may as well go home and not come back.

8. Score and conclusion

This is such a strange combination of good and bad, mediocrity and excellence. One of the oddest models on the market.

Accuracy

  • -2 for lack of underbody aerials
  • -5 for the poor nose mould, totally inaccurate and inexcusable
  • -3 for lack of moulded in standard roof domes – just cheap and at this price point, like the missing aerials, unacceptable
  • -2 for the over-bright engine fans

38/50 for accuracy

Quality

  • -2 for poor dome mould and fit
  • -4 poor wing colour, thin paint
  • -4 for rear wing root paint issues/chips/damage
  • -4 for thin patchy paint in places on the fuselage, backs/edges of aerials
  • -4 for landing gear sludge, poor paint finish and seals, lumps on tyres
  • -2 for often excess glue being visible under wings and vertical stabilizer

30/50 for quality

Overall score: 68% 

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I’m going to stress here the scoring is designed to highlight issues that need to be pointed out and haven’t been so ruthlessly applied before January 1 2018. Manufacturers need to understand we know what they’re not doing – and what they are.

Now they may not care, almost certainly don’t (well one does, a lot, but does nothing about it, another a fair bit and does make changes, one doesn’t care at all), but when prices get this high – this one was £49 ($69 US), you have to be asking questions.

I find this mould offensive in many ways. It really is taking us all for a ride. If you are one of those people who think the nose is right, I suspect you probably think the Earth is flat and dinosaur fossils are God’s idea of amusing decor.

Yet herein lies the problem for collectors. The reluctance of Phoenix to make US Airline models in 1:400, means only one brand will – and they’re nominally stuck with using JC Wings. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Phoenix in a Gemini box, (and yes it did happen quite a lot at one point).

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As a model of an aircraft, if you know nothing, its passable, even attractive. But you do know. And it’s not right, and you just paid a small fortune for it…

The downside for this  ‘acceptable inaccuracy’ approach with models for Gemini is that I’ll never, ever buy more than one example – you’ll never see me fleeting up with BA and Virgin Atlantic when their A350-1000’s go into service for instance. When the next one comes out – like this is the second Delta, I’ll not bother, and neither will many of you. It’s my first Delta A350 and it’s my last.

Even more to the point, unless there is no other alternative and it falls into the ‘must have’ category (and there’s none of them on the horizon), I won’t be buying any more Gemini or JC Wings A350’s of any type.

In conclusion, if you don’t care about the quality and accuracy, as long as it looks vaguely like the real thing, this model is for you. If you collect Delta what choice do they give you anyway? None. Meanwhile they get richer…

 

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