Maputo: LAM McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 F-GDJK by Aeroclassics

Whilst Aeroclassics has somewhat struggled with its newer moulds when it comes to Douglas products it has long been king of the hill, be they DC-6s, DC-8s, DC-9s or DC-10s. It is very pleasing to see that AC has not forgotten how good its Douglas products are and also has a mainline to many of the smaller national carriers. Aeroclassics is the only manufacturer to regularly produce African airlines and of recent times it has had its attention on Southern Africa with several releases for Air Rhodesia and Air Zimbabwe. Now it is neighbouring Mozambique’s turn.

THE REAL THING

Michel Gilliand [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Republic of Mozambique only became independent from its Portuguese colonial master in 1975 after a decade long struggle by the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the fall of the Portuguese dictatorship during the 1974 Carnation Revolution. It was an acrimonious break with most Portuguese forced to flee penniless and a new one-party state set up under Marxist principles by the government of Samora Machel.

The national airline DETA began to fly long-haul almost immediately with 707s but in 1980 the carrier was reorganized as LAM– Linhas Aéreas de Moçambique. Despite the government’s Marxist leanings the fleet remained staunchly Western at least at first. For the main part it was made up of 737-200s with a DC-8-62 leased in from UTA.  In December 1982 the arrival of the DC-10-30 F-GDJK provided a significant upgrade. It was named ‘Maputo’ after Mozambique’s capital city.

Michel Gilliand [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The DC-10 was not new and had been originally delivered to Air New Zealand in October 1975 as ZK-NZR. Air New Zealand replaced their DC-10s in the early 80s with 747s, partly no doubt due to the 1979 Erebus disaster and this aircraft made its way onto the French register with International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC). Leased to LAM she was used on sensible routes to Paris, Copenhagen and Lisbon as well as the more political route to East Berlin.

Michel Gilliand [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

The 1980s was far from a happy period for Mozambique. Civil war raged between anti-Communist and Communist forces. Tens of thousands were executed by the government, thousands more died in “re-education camps”, millions became refugees and there were humans rights violations by all sides on a massive scale.

The Russian influence began to tell at LAM and in mid-1984 an Ilyushin IL-62M was operated whilst the President’s governmental jet was a TU-134. It was in the aircraft Machel perished on October 19, 1986 when it crashed returning from Zambia. His successor implemented sweeping changes and switched to capitalism. The civil war finally ended in October 1992.

The later scheme. Nice but not as nice. Pedro Aragão [CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

F-GDJK continued flying throughout that period but was returned to the lessor in May 1992, replaced by a pair of Irish registered 767-200s. She subsequently saw service with Air Martinique, AOM French Airlines and Air Lib, not being broken up until August 2004. LAM has suffered the indignity of being banned from EU airspace for many years but that ban was lifted in 2017 and at least unlike many other African flag carriers it has survived. The small 6 aircraft fleet currently consists of a pair of 737s, 2 DHC-8-Q400s and 2 Embraer 190s.

THE MODEL

The format for my reviews is to split them into three key areas:

  • The mould of the aircraft
  • The paint and livery
  • Printing and quality control

Each can get a maximum score of 10 for a section giving a maximum combined total score of 30.

THE MOULD

The Aeroclassics DC-10 mould is one of their finest mouldings and arguably the best DC-10 ever produced in 1:400 scale. See my DC-10 mould review for a more detailed comparison. The shape of the nose and fuselage is effectively perfect whilst the wings and engine pylon/nacelle combination are also top quality.

The nosegear on Aeroclassics DC-10s comes separated in a little bag so as to avoid breakages during posting. This is great but you do have to pay attention to fit it correctly since neither the gear doors or gear leg is symmetrical.

If the Aeroclassics DC-10 does have a failing it is the tubelike shape of the tail mounted engine, which isn’t as curvy as it ought to be. Aeroclassics has three different engine exhaust options to cover the six possible exhaust variants. Being a relatively early build DC-10-30 this aircraft had the earlier CF6-50 exhaust with a longer exhaust cover and so seemingly shorter inner cone. This is one of the variants that Aeroclassics has chosen to mould and the exhaust is very well made.

It would be nice is Aeroclassics upgraded the mould to have the three aerials of the real thing but this is wishful thinking.As it is the mould stands as one of my favourites in 1:400 scale. I particularly love that the middle number 2 engine has a full rendition of the fanblades in it even though they are well down the intake. JC Wings/Gemini could learn from that with their MD-11 mould.

SCORE – 10

PAINT & LIVERY

The initial delivery scheme of the LAM DC-10 is a beautiful classic of 1970s design with a lovely red cheatline flowing down from the tail and curving to the nose, complemented by a thin black stripe. As with many airlines the LAM logo is a stylized bird in flight but I think this one is particularly attractive. The scheme is finished off with a yellow star, which I am almost certain has political (and Communist) affiliations.

The scheme was in fact modified in 1985 with the removal of the star. In 1986/87 LAM adopted a more modern, but wholly less pleasing, livery. It kept the bird on the tail but had a new low thin dual pinstripe cheatline beneath the window line. Fortunately, this model is in the delivery scheme.

Aeroclassics tend to go darker with reds than they should and the red base colour does look darker than the medium red on the real thing. That is about the only failing with the livery application. The bird logo, star, cheatlines, cockpit mask and slanted main titling are all bang-on.

The 1975-1983 flag as on the model
The flag from 1983 as worn by the aircraft in the same scheme

The Mozambique flag changed on May 1, 1983 to a more traditional variant of the flag used since 1975. Photos of the DC-10 in this scheme show it wearing both flags but Aeroclassics has pleasingly gone for the more interesting less generic earlier flag, whose only drawback is that the AK-47 assault rifle is a lot smaller!

SCORE – 9

PRINTING & QUALITY CONTROL

Aeroclassics can certainly do bare metal on their DC-10s and the classic look of this aircraft is magnificently recreated with the aid of the silver belly and engines. The printing quality is very fine across the board.

Build quality of the model is good, however there are two issues worth mentioning, Firstly the only drawback of the DC-10 mould is that the forward part of the number 2 engine is a separate component to the main engine nacelle and this can lend itself to a slightly looser fit than I’d like between the two components. Also, on this model the starboard side wing is a little loose, not enough to come off easily but enough to wiggle in its mounting.

SCORE – 9

CONCLUSION

The DC-10 offerings amount to the finest models Aeroclassics is making. Considering some of the issues with other Aeroclassics models this year it is almost as if they have a different team working on the big trijets. I love this mould and I love learning about smaller national airlines with interesting classic liveries. This model ticks all the boxes forme. There were 3 DC-10s released by Aeroclassics this month (Aeromexico and Lan Chile were the other pair) and all 3 look like stunners. I suggest you buy them, you can never have enough trijets after all.

FINAL SCORE – 28

1/400 Review Scoring Chart

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