Virgin Atlantic A330-300 G-VLUV Phoenix 1:400 PH11536 July 2019


It’s been a very long time since anyone made a Virgin Atlantic A330-300 – a poorly coloured G-VSXY from both Phoenix and JC Wings – one of which didn’t have the famous ‘flying lady’ on the nose. I’m sure that was the Phoenix one, because annoyingly it was better coloured than the one that didn’t have it, not that it was special in any way.


The ten A333’s Virgin Atlantic ordered have in many ways come to haunt Boeing, because it was a reaction to the huge delays getting the 787 into service. By 2009 the global depression had smacked airlines hard, Virgin Atlantic’s poorly thought out policy of going for “four for the long haul” – all four engined aircraft just as the world was going twin engined at break neck pace, was proving to be deeply uneconomical and seriously complicated the airlines turn around plans. Indeed the airline was hanging by a thread for a while, but did pull through.

Having ordered ten A333’s to fill the gap during the long delays for the 787-9 – which was 5 years late, the airline quickly found they were highly suited to its operations, and popular with customers. They were all leased, and G-VLUV was the last to enter service with Virgin Atlantic because she wasn’t delivered directly to them.


The recession by 2011-12 in aviation was biting hard, and it was decided to put the aircraft out to sub-lease, with her being delivered to China Airlines in their livery and interior fit, re-registered as B18391 in March 2011. They kept her until November 2012 when she was returned to Virgin Atlantic, as business was picking up again, fully refitted and repainted, she joined the airline in February 2013.

Fitted with 33 Upper Class, 48 Premium and 185 economy (28 of which are extra legroom “Economy Delight”), the aircraft are all powered by Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60’s.

So the cost to Boeing? When it came to replacing the A333’s which are due to start leaving service from 2011 at the end of their leases, having also suffered the Dreamliner engine issues, (which surprisingly Boeing gets much of the blame for, pressing so hard to get under-developed engines into service), Virgin Atlantic, who have always been very pro-Airbus, went straight for the A330neo. Not more 787-9’s (and they had options).

When the time comes to replace the 787-9’s – and the first one is already approaching 5 years of a ten year lease, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they went for more A339’s or the A359.

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The photos in the slideshow here are of identical sister aircraft G-VRAY taken by me as I boarded her recently – it gives you some real close-ups of what this paint scheme looks like up-close. You can see the pearlescent paint and the dark aubergine lettering shows up with its purple tint in a couple of the photos.


The Phoenix A330 mould has always been a pretty good one, so in basic terms, I have no issues at all. What shines with the Phoenix is that they have made every effort to include the aerials – unlike tight fisted Gemini.

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I know the date says 2017…I was day dreaming about flying on one of these in Upper Class in 2017….really shouldn’t let that happen!

This has no less than three on the roof, and four underneath, including the offset rearmost mid-fuselage pair, one of which is the waste water heater/de-icer.

The small forward dome is also included in the mould.

Detail is excellent, paint quality high and the overall impression is excellent.

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Phoenix still use high-gloss paint which lacks realism, but what there is, is exceptionally neat and well defined. Detail is high and legible, the fit of the wings to the fuselage is excellent – better than the Gemini A330neo in Delta livery which is basically an all new wing mould!

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3.Landing Gear

There is nothing wrong with the basic mould, tyres and wheels, they all roll, lump free and look neat. What still doesn’t work so well is the excessively toy-like bright silver. What will it actually take to get Phoenix to stop doing this?

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The nose gear is neat, but again excessively bright silver. The doors are also too large, it has them deployed at the lift and drop position where the rear part of the door – the longest, opens to let the wheels drop and retract, then closes to just have the hydraulics vertical position doors stay open. They seem to have used too big a front section door, when its actually quite small.

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The mould is fine but they’re not as well fitted as one might hope, they look a little oddly angled, but its not severe and you probably won’t notice…after all I have to be picky!

What isn’t good is the rough engine rim and the silver paint again, it looks like it was cut with a hack saw, its just clumsy and far from ideal. The Candy Apple Red paint is fine on the nacelles, but oddly most of the printed-on detail is barely visible except under the camera flash.

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Being fan exhaust engines, that is present and correct, but again too silver. On top of that the inside wall of the exhaust is just plain white plastic. Then there’s the main fans – well no amount of persuasion or haranguing seems to drive the Phoenix robots to change that silver. The “this is how it’s done and how it will always be done,  because Chairman Mao said we must obey” mentality, that denies any change or innovation, and seems to be deeply ingrained.

5.Nose detail

Overall it’s neat and detailed, all of the technical requirements are there. The aircraft name is Lady Love, and while the wording is legible the famous flying lady motif is a little too feint. Just about passable but not perfect.

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6.Tail detail

Neat and effective, good colours, good print, well assembled.

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The 1966 Candy Apple Red (it’s official title), is as good as if slightly different to Gemini’s. It has to be really bright flash to show any worthwhile difference, so I’m OK with it.

The two solutions to the main pearlescent paint are different, one has a more realistic effect – and that’s the Phoenix, but the Gemini looks better in what we would call a showroom environment. So neither is better, just different.

Now in all honesty I preferred the Phoenix originally – but over time, I’ve come round to preferring the Gemini. Its a preference though, not a criticism or endorsement of either.

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by way of comparison this is the Gemini finish…on the best 1:400 in the VS livery they ever did

8.Score and conclusions


  • -2 for the oversized nose gear doors
  • -3 for the excessively silver paint on the landing gear generally
  • -2 for the fan paint colour



  • -4 Rim paint and finish
  • -2 overly feint flying lady print
  • -2 overly feint engine nacelle print



It’s about average for a Phoenix, certainly a pass but no Model Of The Year contender!

For most people this will fill a very neat hole in their Virgin Atlantic collection. It’s the first time anyone seems to have made one of these ten A330’s and come close to getting them right in years.

Bearing in mind its price point, it’s OK, and I’m happy to have it fill that space in the Virgin Atlantic fleet.

However….Phoenix really need to address these silver paint issues. Why can’t it be changed? What’s the issue? I just don’t get why they are so intransigently opposed to making simple changes? Silo thinking, compartmentalised and uncommunicative? Where do they work? The Boeing 737MAX design team cupboards?

You know China you can steal all the tech you like but if you can’t paint a plastic fan the right shade of silver, what else is all show and no go?

Screenshot 2019-02-18 at 17.02.20

8 thoughts on “Virgin Atlantic A330-300 G-VLUV Phoenix 1:400 PH11536 July 2019

  1. Personally i prefer the red over Gemini Jets choice of shade as its more pink but less accurate! Gemini choice of red is more accurate!Same goes with the white pearlescent, white ! The Gemini i prefer like that was painted on the A350-1000 last year but the Phoenix looks more like the real look of the paint upclose in real-life on the aircraft!

    I just wished Panda or NG do their A330 900NEO’s before anybody else as i will be tempted by a lesser brand! Overall , Aviation400 i am praying they do a Virgin Atlantic A330 or A350 as at the moment in my view they are the best,no doubt! Even at 1:400 scale they have jewel warning lights that you generally only see at 1:200 scale and are on a par of quality with Panda/HYJL/NG etc! Their A350’s are simply the best at this scale no doubt and their A330’s are as good as Panda!

    Overall this model is a vast improvement by Phoenix and almost there at NG/Panda standards etc.Though Aviation400,they are the new WiityWings !!

  2. To Jon,they will be brilliant ,i am sure you will not be disappointed! I suspect they are the BA and Etihad liveries you have chosen! Glad i waited also as they will unlike rush to market Gemini Jets get it right with the BA livery by also having the winglets painted in the UnionFlag and i think its a first for BA on winglets? Strange the A321-NEO’s they have ordered and already got have not had their winglets painted? Lastly the wait gamble i thought would pay-off as of hoping but never believing there would be a new BA livery ,though the current livery to which i am not a fan looks great on their A350’s.The china Airlines Carbon livery made the Phoenix and JCWings versions look like they should be iin a league below! just like JCWings both scale version of GulfAir B787 over Phoenix yet again this year ,Phoenix get the wrong colour engine shade choice,again!!! Only JCWings have done this livery other than and I must say its better ,not perfect the gold more a copper but atleast it looks more realistic!!

    May I also add whilst typing that NG retro BA Tristar500 looks the best of all retro’s thus far in my view but my lord , please , anyone do not buy the versions AeroClassics have just done! Pics have been released on a well known seller website and they look floppy/poor which is really amazing as its from Aeroclassics as usually they make very good models,exceptional sometimes like A330”s on some liveries.

    Regarding the Virgin Livery above I love their choice of shade of ‘candy red ‘ that Phoenix use but you know,my view only ,I would love Virgin to do their tail /fins like the Galaxy shuttle that launches from their Orbiter plane! That pearlescent white fades into ‘chrome’ and then you could have instead of white lettering saying Virgin every tail-fin on every A350 gets Virgin in a different colour on the chrome! I wished I could mention that to Sir Richard Branson,I think he might like that suggestion as it would look great and certainly stand out.Well for sure, Amongst the blandeness you see everywhere today on liveries! It’s great that Chinese Airlines like to spend money as they actually do alot of fancy liveries or on-off’s on atleast one of every types within a fleet! I just hope Air Astana ‘snow leopard livery’ gets put into production as a model!

    Regards and a verygood in-depth website Jon on reviews as not many people do this and can save collectors from buying duffs and realize there are better brands out there! I am sure you will love Aviation400 as in my view they have not the fancy boxes WittyWings did for A380’s but the models I feel myself are upto their standards and beyond! Some French sellers are still selling theirA380’s but asking for silly money,it depends how desperate you are to have one but atleast I have 2 the China Southern and KoreanAir! Though if Aviation400 did do metal boxes like some HYJL models get ,that would be perfection!!

    Regards all.

  3. Hi!

    The review was great as always!
    Can’t wait for your review of Av400 A350! (You won’t be disappointed, as I’ve told you many times mine is great) My Panda FedEx 737-800BCF has been sent, I can’t wait!
    Could you please recommend any 1:400 cargo plane? I’m doubting with so many models right now…

    Best regards from Spain!

  4. Are you planning on reviewing the new NG Model A330s and L-1011s? The BA Landor one looks impeccable, putting the Gemini Jets one to shame (glad I held off on getting the Gemini).

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