AirBaltic A220-300 YL-CSL “Latvia 100” Gemini Jets 1:400 GJBTI1839 Aug 2019

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AirBaltic’s plan to completely operate nothing but Airbus A220’s is well under way, with more than half the fleet now converted to A220-300’s, all of which are laid out in a 145 seat economy configuration.

These liveries have a great importance locally and its important to understand why it matters so much.

2019 is the 100th anniversary of the original independence of the three so-called Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania, following the end of the First World War, as they left the Russian Empire and the Bolshevik revolution. To celebrate, the airline has painted three aircraft in their respective national flags.

They remained independent from 1919 through to 1940, when following the August 23rd 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Soviets, the Secret Protocol, were secretly granted German agreement to occupy them, which they did the following year.

All three states were occupied by Nazi Germany in June/July 1941 following the German invasion (Operation Barbarossa) on 22nd June – they were seen as liberators from Stalin’s Russia but the realities soon proved to be as bad, if not worse. The Soviets reoccupied the three countries in 1944 and kept them until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989-91 when they all declared independence again.

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All three are now members of NATO and the European Union, which is something Putin utterly resents.

Now fiercely independent and under constant pressure from Russian disinformation and cyber attacks, never mind the threat of asymmetric warfare such as that practiced in the Ukraine, these aircraft proudly displaying national flags are a big deal, and a matter of very considerable pride.

This specific aircraft was delivered on 18 March 2018.

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1.Fuselage

Let’s not get hung up on the mould, it’s fine. Three aerials up, none underneath and it should have at least one. This is almost certainly a budget issue because Herpa always put one in on both the A221 and A223 and Gemini don’t.

The A223 is a very different mould to the A221 – especially when it comes to the way the wings are presented – they’re far more elevated on the A223.

This model is less about technical mould issues and more about the atrocious paint and print.

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The red is clearly bleeding into the white almost everywhere when you look up close – its quite substandard compared to most of what we see these days. Indeed I have the feeling that wherever these are made it’s a pretty grotty facility.

Not for the first time on this model type, we have dust, pit marks and actually a clump of hair stuck to the bottom.

You can indeed look at it from a distance and not mind, but overall the quality is more 2010 than 2020.

2.Wings

These are meant to be white. They are not, they are in fact a sort of beige colour – the sort of off white you’d get if a little bit of red and green were accidentally mixed in to the paint. This is all so Gemini it’s nauseating. The same paint issue has affected the horizontal stabilisers.

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This set of wings are even more elevated than the Swiss and airBaltic A223’s produced by Herpa. It’s not often I think Herpa is better than Gemini but they simply are, they’re way better in terms of quality and finish – in general on this model type. These wings are almost beyond ridiculous.

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3.Landing gear

The hobnail boot of ugliness and cheapness, hideously pathetic and awkwardly childish. It’s like someone thought, “I know, lets find the cheapest, nastiest, worst possible landing gear made of nasty translucent greyish-white plastic ever thought up in the history of 1:400 and use them on this model!” Unsurprisingly, someone at Gemini said, ‘yes’.

Truly ugly, so mind-numbingly unprofessional, they defy all reasonable definition. Even a cheapskate would find these cheap. These make Aeroclassics terrible A320 landing gear look like quality.

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One of the tyres is so small on the nose gear that it doesn’t touch the ground because the gear mould is so gruesomely over sized it’s acting as a wheel.

What did the people at Bombardier and Airbus do to deserve having this superb aircraft – and I have flown in one – rendered with these abominations for landing gear?  What sad little production manager let this happen and how does it still carry on? Just another example of the ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude of manufacturers. As long as the cash rolls in…

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Don’t look at the gear or that engine rim paint too ha

4.Engines

The moulds are OK, the engine nacelle paint is fine, but the silver rims appear to have been hand painted by an old lady with Parkinson’s disease and her bifocals on upside down. It’s small consolation that the fans are at least a little darker.

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5.Nose detail

From a distance it’s OK, but compared to the latest quality printing from NG or Panda, or even the latest JC Wings new generation models, nothing is clear, nothing crisp and it certainly isn’t clean.

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The actual nose and gear on an A220-300

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6.Tail detail

Glue on one side, beige paint on the horizontals instead of white. Don’t look close at the paint detail bleeding. It’s a small model, true but there is better out there, much better. So far this one is the worst and I’ve had 6 of these A221/223 models now.

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7.Colours

The red is fine, the white fuselage is fine, the green corporate is spot on, but the disgustingly beige wings are pathetic.

8.Score and conclusions

Accuracy

  • -10 for the landing gear – truly awful. I suspect we’re stuck with this crap for ages. No manufacturer listens to its customers so don’t expect any change.
  • -6 Wing colour what happened? I suspect some inarticulate nit-wit looked too closely at some photos taken at sunset and saw a slight orange-green-red tint in the paint reflected, and having no idea and doing no more research, did what they did. And yes it is incompetence, because proper research would have told them something different. This is Gemini remember – supposed to be the experts!
  • -4 over-elevated wings – they’re ridiculous
  • -2 lack of lower aerial
  • -4 wrong horizontal stabiliser colour as above

24/50

Quality 

  • -6 for the paint – poorly applied, bleed, weak definition
  • -2 engine rim paint, low quality paint, poorly applied
  • -2 – pits, hair and rubble in the paint
  • -5 landing gear quality – not just inaccurate, but lowest imaginable quality too

35/50

Overall score 61%

Pathetic. That this wonderful aircraft should be reduced to this? Gemini Jets summed up in another low grade model.

I was prepared to give it a go, I did. There’s another Herpa coming some time in October, a Swiss special livery. Someone needs to make this model to the standards Panda and NG do. And soon.

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