Icelandair 757-200 TF-FIR ’80th livery’ Gemini Jets 1:400 GJICE1672 August 2018

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Icelandair celebrated 80 years in 2017 and this livery with its snowy peaks and mountains with blue skies was designed to celebrate it, following the success of the outstanding Hekla Aurora 752.

The airline currently flies 29 757’s, 27 of which are 752’s, with a 28th 752 due in service soon.

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TF-FIR in late 2016

TF-FIR named Vatnajökull (pronounced VAT-na-yo-kel) is already nearly 25 years old and has had a long life serving with Iberia who took delivery of her back in July 1994. They sold her to Icelandair in July 2002, who leased her to Aeromar immediately, until February 2003. She spent 8 months with Icelandair who leased her out again, this time to Avianca for three months, then to Loftleider Icelandic (an Icelandair Group subsidiary) from August 2004 to June 2005. They operate under Icelandair’s AOC as a specialist charter, ACMI and VIP airline, as well as being maintainance specialists. They recently signed up La Compagnie to manage their 757 fleet.

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After that she returned to permanent Iceandair service. The winglets were fitted in March 2006 and are unusual in having the end kink, which were added in May 2017, and are spreading across the fleet. In fact the Hekla has them now and the new NG model of it shows this.

Previously she went under the name ‘Askja’ but was renamed and repainted, in May 2017.

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Currently fitted with 22 business class and 161 economy seats, the aircraft is powered by the venerable and wonderfully noisy Rolls Royce RB-211-53SE4.

If you are in the UK this cost around £44 – you could buy it from Hong Kong and get it posted to the UK for £35 and not pay any customs charge as its below £39.

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1.Fuselage

This is of course the venerable JC Wings/Gemini mould that’s been knocking about for years but it seems to have been given a bit of refurbishment by JCW at some recent point. For one it now has an aerial above and below the No.2 door, as well as one at the underneath rear. The Hekla didn’t get that treatment.

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It has a dome which is reasonably well fitted, not seamless but good enough and without mould issues which so easily spoils them. I’m not sure you could make it any better than it is here.

In many ways this model is only about one thing – the special livery, so paint quality and fine detail are everything.

It has to be said that It is as every bit as good as the excellent Hekla Aurora; shading, lustre, brightness and detail are simply outstanding. Even the base print, door and technical detail are a delight. It’s the best word to use, because it is a genuinely delightfully wonderful to experience a model that lives up to expectations, and we know how rare that is with Gemini.

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2.Wings

The wing mould has the full sharklet extensions and is pretty excellent, despite it being the cradle system. It all fits as tightly and cleanly as that type of mould ever could and I’ve no complaints about the fit.

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The wing paint is a nice silk finish that doesn’t swamp the wing panel detail, and is to all intents and purposes a success. It does have a very slight dark blue over-run at the back of the wings where the root joins the fuselage, and slightly worse at the front edge, but it’s quite minor.

I’ve always thought the wings are a bit thick, but that’s part of the model’s original spec so more observation than complaint.

Overall, it has to be said, the wings are excellent.

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3.Landing gear

Of all the things that spoilt the 757 it was the horrendous nose gear on JCW/Gemini models. It was nasty, thick, lacked detail and out of scale. It marred the otherwise excellent Hekla Aurora model, and it went back years, even the old 757-300 TF-FIX has it. In fact as the years progressed it got worse.

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With the refurbishment of the 757 by JCW, we now have, at last, new nose gear. And its a truly massive improvement. Scaled correctly, because it is after all, one of the hallmarks of the 757 that it stands so tall to get those engines underneath it. Why did it take so long to modify something so simple?

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Old and new landing gear

In any event it’s a massive improvement and I’m delighted to see it. It adds class and realism to the model. The only downside is it makes older versions look a bit crap.

There is one minor-ish issue with the main gear – the doors are not clean of flashing, especially on the port side. It looks quite unsightly.

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4.Engines

The mould is fine. It’s the paint that they seem to struggle with. The silver rim paint is no great shakes, with an over-large particle size used and apparently applied by hand. Now to be fair they aren’t by any means the worst, but on this particular model with this cost, they’re not as good as they should be.

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Rim silver paint is very dated and poor

The fan colour isn’t lurid silver but it’s not realistic. The exhaust part of the nacelles goes from yellow to light titanium to silver, but from the back you can see inside to unpainted plastic with no detail. There are plenty of engines out there old and new, with better detail.

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The nacelles are a good colour, pretty much accurate, but the No.2 engine is about a quarter millimeter lower than the No.1 and doesn’t fit the pylon quite as well. Now clearly its my job here to identify everything I notice, most of you won’t see it because you don’t go looking for these things like I do. And I don’t blame you. But that’s how it is so there we go.

One little quirk on this aircraft, the RR logo has been left off the real thing and the model. It’s present on the Hekla and the Iceland 100th.

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5.Nose detail

Outstanding. No complaints. Even the silver cockpit frames look spot on.

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6.Tail detail

Technically excellent, again, no print/paint complaints. My only slight concern is the vertical stabilizer isn’t quite as deeply inserted as it should be – a very small gap at the rear base isn’t ideal but again, few will be bothered by it.

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7.Colours

Exceptional. A triumph.

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8.Score and conclusion

Accuracy

  • engine fan colour -2

Accuracy score 48/50

Quality

  • blue over-run -2
  • engine rims -2
  • lower engine on one side -1
  • flashing on main gear doors unsightly -2

Quality score: 43/50

OVERALL SCORE: 91%

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That is an outstanding score for a model of this type and I have to say that I’m really pleased with the whole thing.

Icleandair has a unique business, even if the concept is now being challenged and even duplicated. WOW offers a very different experience, Finnair has duplicated the concept but in the opposite direction so far, although it too has recognised the value of the West European markets flying through Helsinki to the US West Coast and is embarking on notable expansion in that area in 2019.

While being expert in 757 operations and maintenance, with 738Max’s coming into service, their days are numbered, but far from over.

In the meantime we have yet another special livery to look forward to in the shape of TF-ISX, a 753, and the 100 years of Icelandic independence livery, introduced in March 2018, and leased from Arkia in Israel.  If it’s as good as this, you’ll see few complaints from me.

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