This is the second Qantas A380 I’ve purchased, and the first in the new livery. The other one has long ago been sold off in anticipation of the livery. In line with my “Core Airlines” policy, Qantas only has two representatives actively available for use at Leonard Nimoy International.
As far as Qantas goes, it’s just the standard livery 787-9 and the A380, later I’ll add whatever wins Project Sunrise. I’m hoping it’s the A350-1000ULR variant under development. One guest appearance option is the 744 Oneworld, which I just couldn’t bring myself to part with, but is usually boxed up and stored.
I was going to wait for the Phoenix version of this model – and I still might opt for it and sell this Gemini later, I’ll explain why as we go…
This aircraft was the 29th A380 built and delivered on January 7th 2010. VH-OQF is named Charles Kingsford Smith.
Originally fitted out as F14 C72 W32 Y332, she was reconfigured in 2012 to F14 C64 W35 Y371. The A380’s are said to be getting new business class in the coming years. Emirates was given the contract to repaint the aircraft into the new livery.
Qantas still retains first class, one of the relatively few legacy carriers that do. One reason is that most of the aircraft end up on the Heathrow run at some stage which not only is the worlds busiest A380 airport outside of Dubai, but represents a staggering 54% of all first class seats sold globally.
The aircraft even as I write, is over Western Australia heading to Sydney from Singapore Changi as QF2 from Heathrow.
Qantas was quick, once the initial agreement with Emirates ended, to swap its flights back from Dubai on stop-over. The original argument had been customers preferred a stop at that point. It turned out they didn’t, and the route was up against far too many London-Dubai Emirates flights with transfers, never mind the double daily A380 flights from Manchester and Birmingham. So the Qantas double daily A380’s are now back on their traditional routes. There’s only one main competitor and that’s BA with a single 773ER that also stops in Singapore. It’s the only European airline on the route, but I’m convinced ULR aircraft will convince KLM and Lufthansa in the future, that the time to return is almost here.
I think most of you know what I think of the Gemini/JCW mould shape. It’s not by any means, accurate, especially at the nose. The Phoenix isn’t perfect but it’s far better, never mind being aluminium and half the weight.
The mould, indeed the whole model could so do with one of JCW’s big refits, and that includes production standards.
Technical detail is something we’ve become accustomed to seeing as pretty much accurate each and every time now. For the most part that’s true here, but some of the lower deck windows are not quite in line with their frames, especially those between doors 3 and 4.
The QANTAS logo looks a little bit pale and you can see what looks like roller marks a bit to easily from its application on the fuselage.
If anything the application of all of the graphics is a bit old school. It’s passable but its nothing like the latest JC Wings definition on the modified A35K or 787’s.
Effort has been made to show the multiple areas of what amounts here, to very small print, but there’s so much of it in places (look at the cargo doors for the blue print) – that it looks like a mistake because it lacks any real definition.
It does have three out of three aerials on top but no small dome above upper door 2, and is devoid of any aerials below when there should be two.
As moulds go the massive wings are pretty good, although they aren’t the seamless fit you’d expect for this size and cost. They are notably less glossy and more of a silk finish than on the older model, with good detail showing, and what appears to be an authentic colour.
A constant issue with JCW/Gemini A380’s has been the weight distribution in the fuselage mould and the short nose gear, which has seen many of them lean back on their main gear and lift the nose off the ground by around 1mm. That problem has finally been rectified here.
However the nose wheel on this model has been put in so that it points too far forward at the wheel. One of the main gear tyres is a little lumpy, but at least the main gear is consistent in wheels and colour and they actually all rotate. The main rears also function moving backwards and forwards as well as the bogies tilting. I actually think that’s a first out of 13 Gemini/JCW A380’s I’ve had over the years, where all of them work!
I really haven’t got a problem with the fans being static and not see-through. Provided the fans are the correct colour and sufficiently detailed, and the engine nacelles haven’t been compromised to fit a novelty, it’s fine with me.
The rims on these Rolls Royce units are all excellent, and the fans an excellent detail, but they’re simply miles away from being the correct colour. Matt silver, almost aluminium, but not even close to an accurate titanium. Why is it so bloody difficult to do this? They’re not toys after all.
The exhausts are excellent.
What is less of a thrill is the nacelles. The logo and tech detail is fine, but the RR log in blue is poorly defined. In addition there are slight weaknesses in the white paint. Experience tells me these were painted and printed, then assembled on to the model while it was still a little tacky – latex gloves have taken off the shine of the paint as it was assembled.
It’s obviously the wrong shape as has been demonstrated many times, but there is detail of an acceptable if unremarkable nature. The cockpit windows on these JCW/Gemini models have never looked entirely convincing.
6. Tail detail
The redesigned livery is principally the tail. The huge swathe of red, the disarmed kangaroo with its re-contoured outline and shading, coupled to the silver slash. It is all there, and is quite good enough to pass muster.
Yet catch the tail in full light at a quarter angle, and the naked eye, that extraordinary optical device we all take so much for granted, can see the white paint of the kangaroo is a bit thin. The outline lacks definition to the standards I would hope to see. It once again emphasises this is now a ten-year old model and standards of production seem to rest at the point it was first introduced.
No issues from my point of view, they seem to be as accurate as is technically viable.
8.Scores and conclusions
- – 4 mould shape
- -2 lack of roof dome
- -2 missing aerials underneath
- -4 silver fans
38/50 for accuracy
- -2 slightly misaligned windows
- -4 general definition issues with printed detail
- -3 white paint on engines lack full gloss finish
- -2 misaligned nose gear
- -1 some lumpy tyres on main gear
- -2 wings not as seamlessly installed as you’d expect at this price and size
36/50 for quality
Overall score: 74% is about what I’d expect for this generation of model. Other than the upper aerials and some attempt to refurbish the landing gear that’s been so often an issue, it hasn’t really changed in years. It falls into the usual Gemini “commercially acceptable” category. It isn’t a patch on the quality of the newly revised A350’s from JCW.
I feel a little less negative towards it because I was able to get it from an overseas supplier, and happened on a special offer from eBay to get it for 15% less. It didn’t even take long to get here. In total it cost me just £36 (USD$46) (including delivery) as opposed to the UK price of £60.22 list (at best around £51 discounted). Frankly I wouldn’t have paid £51 for it under any circumstances.
Am I happy with it? Yes. Delighted? No. And that’s why when/if Phoenix make theirs, I shall be looking out for it as the mould and the general quality on their A380’s is superior and they’re way cheaper.