Qantas - Boeing 747-400
As the Boeing 747s time in Qantas fleet is slowly but surely coming to an end, The Model Aircraft Addict looks at one of the "ugly sisters" that Qantas brought into the fleet late 1990s. Over the years VH-OEB has become known a "One Enormous Billboard" given the special liveries it has worn for Qantas.
The Real Deal
This aircraft rolled out of the Boeing factory in Seattle in May 1993 headed for Asiana Airlines of Korea and it was delivered to Asiana in June 1993 as HL7416 where it served faithfully until 1998 when Qantas bought the aircraft.
HL7416 was transferred to Qantas and became VH-OEB on May 22, 1998 and arrived in Sydney from Seoul in July 1998 and became one of the "ugly sisters". The "ugly sisters" were three 747s that were bought by Qantas from Asiana (VH-OEB) and Malaysia Airlines (VH-OEC and VH-OED).
The aircraft was named Phillip Island and was the first 747-400 repainted in Singapore into the new Qantas livery in April 2008 and less than 12 months later was painted with Oneworld alliance titles.
VH-OEB was the first aircraft in the Qantas fleet to wear the Oneworld paint scheme and it operated QF73 to San Francisco as it's first flight with the titles.
The Oneworld titles didn't last to long and were removed in March 2010 and were replaced with 'Come Play" titles to support Australia's ill-fated bid for the 2018 and 2022 Football World Cup, which ultimately went to Russia and Qatar. Qantas is a major supporter of Australian football.
After wearing the decals for the World Cup bid for around a year the aircraft went back to Avalon to have them removed and replaced with another decal! See what I mean by VH-OEB standing for One Enormous Billboard?
The next lot of decals to be place on VH-OEB was in support of the 2011 Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix hosted in Melbourne.
VH-OEB would wear the 2011 Grand Prix titles until July 2013 with the decals being updated for the 2012 Australian Grand Prix. The aircraft was reconfigured at Avalon in July 2013 and had the decals removed.
VH-OEB remains in service with Qantas as of Feb 28, 2019 with the aircraft still wearing the 2008 Qantas livery
VH-OEB is the oldest Boeing 747-400 in the Qantas fleet by about six years over VH-OJU and there is no official retirement date for VH-OEB but online forums have said that it could be April 2019 or August 2019 but it would appear that her days in the Qantas fleet are numbered. VH-OEB is the last of the "ugly sisters" still in service with OEC and OED both being scrapped at Victorville in 2011.
The Collectors Item
Gemini Jets has released all but one of the liveries that VH-OEB has worn throughout it's time with Qantas. The only livery they haven't released is the original livery it wore when it joined the fleet in 1998.
Gemini have released VH-OEB in the order that it wore the liveries with the first model being OEB in the 2008 livery. The model was released in 2008 with 1500 units produced. I could only find one for sale on eBay and it was asking $198 AUD for the model and it is the rarest of the four produced by Gemini Jets. I picked my copy up from HobbyCo in Sydney for around $60 AUD in 2008 which just shows how much Gemini Jets have gone up in price with a new release 747-400 setting you back around $95 AUD now.
VH-OEB in the Oneworld titles was the next to be released by Gemini Jets in 2009 and once again it had a run of 1500 from the factory. None of the Gemini Jets version could be found on eBay but a couple of the Dragon Wings version were available for decent prices (around $50 AUD).
The "Come Play" scheme was next out by Gemini in 2010 and was released by both Gemini Jets and Dragon Wings. This model wasn't as popular as the other two on a worldwide stage with copies of both models still available for around $50 AUD. I don't have a copy of the "Come Play" as I was worn out by all the Qantas releases at the time.
And finally the released the "Grand Prix" livery in 2011, Dragon didn't produce this one and left it all to Gemini Jets. I understand that 1500 of these were produced and there are still quite a number still around for $50-60 AUD. I was gifted my copy of the model from an eBay seller as compensation after receiving a broken model.
All three that I have are fantastic models but then how hard is it to stuff up a Qantas 747? I know some manufacturers would argue that it is quite easy to stuff up a Qantas model (Phoenix and their attempt at VH-ZND "Yam Dreaming" spring to mind).
It is quite pleasing have the three version of VH-OEB in my collection as it gives a nice history of the airframe and the different colours it has worn during it's time with Qantas.