Britannia 757-200 G-BYAM NG Models NG53042 1:400 Jan 2019

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The first commercial as opposed to military I flew on was DanAir from Gatwick back in 1983. I was 21. It was a 737-200 and flew direct, to what was then little more than a tarmac covered field, with a green corrugated shed the size of a small garage for a “terminal”, known as Mykonos Airport. I didn’t smoke and never have but bought a DanAir lighter as souvenir on board. I still have it and it still works on its original fuel!

The return trip required the luggage to be placed on a second aircraft as it couldn’t take off with it on board, we had to stop in the now old and closed Athens airport, for fuel and wait for the luggage to arrive. Once stowed we flew back to Gatwick.

Subsequent trips to Greece in the 1980’s and 90’s usually meant Britannia was the only option – and this aircraft flew us back and forth on at least two occasions, which is why I wanted this model.

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G-BYAM in her Britannia days, Geneva Coitrin airport 29 March 1997

That NG Models have engaged in the systematic reproduction of what seems like every version of 757 ever made, is simply amazing. If they adopt this approach to everything else, even if it takes month and years, we’re in for a wonderful 2019 and onwards.

G-BYAM was one of 29 757-200’s Britannia operated over the years.

She started life as Monarch Airlines G-DRJC delivered 12 May 1987, with an all economy 235 seat layout, powered by a pair of the much-loved Rolls Royce RB211-535E4’s.

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Her original Monarch livery as G-DRJC, July 28 1982

Monarch couldn’t really afford to run her and leased her to British Airways for 12 months, running April 1988 to April 1989. BA named her Braemar Castle.

Monarch flew her from April 1989 to March 1993 but on wet lease to Australian Airlines from November 1989 to April 1990.

On return she was sold by ILFC, the lease holder, to Nimbus Aviation who leased her to Britannia from March 1993 until she was withdrawn on June 5th 1999. This is the period of the livery she wears on this model, and the G-BYAM registration.

However all was not lost, Nimbus leased her to National Airlines in the US from August 1999 as N513NA – they changed the layout to 22 Business and 153 economy. They used her until Nov 2002. She was stored, sold to CIT leasing, then delivered to Pace Airlines as The Grace Evelyn Pacemaker.

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In the Avianca livery, 7 February 2009

Pace kept her until March 2006 when she was leased to Avianca when she was changed to 12 business and 158 economy. Withdrawn in February 2009 she was stored at Victorville before being purchased by Fedex in June 2009. Converted to freight and the 757-2T7SF configuration in July 2010, Registered as N937FD named Aley, she was supposed to be flying until 5th November 2018, but there’s been no flight since she arrived Allentown as FX1497 on 24 October 2018.

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As she is now

If you’re not aware, Britannia was eventually sucked into the Thomson/Tui group in 2005 having operated since 1964. I did look for photos of her in the BA livery, but none materialised.

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1.Fuselage

Let’s get the bad news over with. Disappointingly, the left wing was not attached. There is good reason; there isn’t a drop of glue holding it in. NG just won Model Of The Year and Manufacturer/Brand of the Year 2018. So I’m not exactly thrilled, but, it’s also withstood the rigours of the Royal Mail postage system and the box wasn’t packed as well as it could have been. Even so, at these prices I don’t expect anything to have fallen or dropped off if it was correctly installed.

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The fuselage itself is the otherwise excellent version used extensively by NG. Interestingly she does have the upper aerial above door 2 she’s had since assembly, but they seem to have been a little less attendant to detail and have installed the aerial from later versions of the 757-200, that this one never had, under door 2, as well as one under the rear that was never present until the freighter conversion. I think that’s the first time we’ve ever had more aerials than were actually installed!  So NG, appreciate the detail, but inventing details is something altogether different.

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In terms of the livery and its execution, this is once again, exceptionally good.

One of the strange but almost unobserved elements of this livery is the seemingly ‘unseen’ red that halos almost every detail. On the real life aircraft this was almost imperceptible. If anyone had asked you’d be left with a blue and white stripe as the dominant detail, but the red is there. With one small exception this has been dealt with on the model very effectively, and it’s not an easy thing to achieve. These days livery designers would shy away from such detail because of the impossibility of including it in airline digital media platforms.

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Technical detail is outstanding again, and overall the fuselage is a tour de force.

One down side is that the hole for the stand is simply too small for even the thinnest I’ve got. Back to the old screw driver technique to get the photos!

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2.Wings

Well the left wing may not have been connected but once fixed, it fits with extraordinary ease and seamlessly at that. Superb mould, outstanding paint, excellent details, really nothing to complain about.

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3.Landing gear

Quite simply the best landing gear in the business, even better than the new JCW version. Great, lump free tyres, neat moulds, light grey paint, and all fitted perfectly to the under wing. Add to that the excellent nose gear and there are no complaints.

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4.Engines

The RB-211’s are excellent moulds and the plastic engines are well painted, with dark titanium fans. The only small issue is the rims, which suffer from  a very slightly over-lumpy silver paint. This rim issue is one that has bedevilled 1:400 engines for as long as I can remember, and while newer engines on larger models seem to have found ways round it, I’m a little disappointed to see it here.

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However it should be clearly stated it’s very minor in comparison with some of the junk spewed forth by Gemini, Aeroclassics and Phoenix over the years.

5.Nose details

No issues, indeed the thin line wrap around of the nose seems unusually well done.

The cockpit windows are also faultless.

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6.Tail detail

The overall tail area and assembly are first-rate, but the vertical stabilizer logo has just a little over done the red, it’s not terrible, just a bit too heavy around fine detail like Britannia’s trident.

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7.Colours

Outstanding match!

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8.Score and conclusions

Accuracy

  • -2 for almost unbelievably, too many aerials!
  • -2 slightly overdone red paint on the tail

46/50 for accuracy

Quality

  • -5 for the wing. It would have been much more if it had damaged the fuselage paint, which is what usually happens, but it didn’t, and was easily fixed.
  • -2 for the engine rims, it’s a pet hate and NG need to get rid of this problem at an early stage

43/50 for quality

Overall score: 89%

So, despite a wing issue, it’s still over 89%. It was interesting that the wing – clearly a separately painted and installed item, rather than being assembled then painted, was so neatly and easily repaired. I cannot tell you how many models have been wrecked by paint being broken from wing separations over the years – especially Phoenix.

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Still I am slightly concerned as to the cause and hope it’s not a long-term quality issue. I’m not so sure, but let’s see how things go this year. NG have raced to the top without much effort, and as the old adage goes, uneasy lies the head, that wears a crown.

Am I pleased with it? Overall yes, because I flew on her and it’s one missing from that element of my collection I never expected to get. Strangely the livery doesn’t even look grossly dated, more classic than anything. Perhaps because it remained virtually unchanged for so long.

So that concludes the first review of 2019…I’m sure you’ll let me know your thoughts…

 

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