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KS Ong

The Making of the Malaysia Airlines Retro Jet

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It started as a simple meeting/recce on 4th afternoon that immediately turns out to be a wonderful and eye opening 8 straight days of working experience with Malaysia Airline's Engineering and Maintenance team. The Project Manager was kind enough to disclose to us the schedule plan for MXA and determined to complete the paint job by the 9th.


End November - Paint rub-down. Because MXA is a fairly new paint, it is not required for a complete paint strip.

2 Dec - Wash

3 Dec - Primer Application

4 Dec - White, MAS Blue Text Application, Black Nose

5 Dec - Grey Application

6 Dec - Red Application

7 Dec - 40 Anniversary Decal Application

8 Dec - Clear Coat Application

9 Dec - Removal of over-wing masking and dockings


The painters had already applied the white paint earlier part of the day. So we started off with the MAS wording and Blue colour.



The paints are supplied by Akso Nobel paints.



Red paint that will be used later part of the week



Getting ready the Malaysian Airlines System, Jawi and Flag premask



Before they apply the premasks, the staffs had to measure by hand where the premask should be placed. Most often, they use windows as point of reference.





The black nose on the other hand is one of the most difficult part to draw and apply masking. It took the senior staff about two hours just to have a perfect black nose where from the side, you can see a straight line from top to bottom





She is all dressed up, premask applied, degreased and all ready for blue and black paint







Briefing and break time before painting. It was already 12.30am




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Interesting story from behind the scene. I am starting to like the retro logo already. :) About that minor mistake, is it possible they didnt notice the Jawi script background colour while observing the photo because it seemed like they were tied up to bigger matters...Anyway, overall, still a great job from the team. :)

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This is lovely Ong. I am enjoying it. Continue the chronology at your convenience. Hope its ok i am off track a bit to share. Cheers bro! You are the man!!






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This brings back the good old memories. My dad was a frequent traveller to Jakarta back in the 80's so I get excited everytime I see MAS aircraft at Subang.


A bit off topic, I remember travelling to LAX in 1987 in a 747 in this livery. I'm digging the old photos now. :)

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Congratulations to Jon Kong. Top of A.net as of now! :good:

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Story time as right now my son and daughter are both sitting next to me, and I am explaining to them about this color scheme.




Teach them well

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Continuation of where I left.

Painters all suite up. There were 8 painters. 2 for retro's black nose job and 2 each for each side. The remaining 2 is to supervise painting.



The picnic menu for the night is blue and black paint with curing solution.





Painting technologies these days do not need to paint layers over layers over layers. Two layers is good enough with a clear coat as finishing.

The technique used is cross paint. Paint one layer horizontally and the other vertically.





Time to peel off the masking after 4 hours of drying to clean off 'leaked/smudge' spots.



At one glance, the nose looks like a space shuttle.



Usually, major painting is done at day time (late mornings/afternoons). At night, insects are attracted to the paint's bau (smell). This is to prevent insects leaving trail marks and their dead body.



Here's a short time lapse video of the days' work


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Having spent almost 20 hours in the hangar, gave a miss on the grey belly as too tired to do anything and very very sleepy. So the following afternoon, made coverage on the RED.

Staffs we already pre masking the logo.





Tail, winglets and cheat lines ready to be painted RED





Painters all suit up for RED... There were 3 representative from AkzoNobel overseeing the RED paint, to ensure paint viscosity and application are done correctly.



Red paint mist is everywhere in the air. Even the engineers working at the adjacent aircrafts had to stop work and leave the area.





After two hours of painting, it is left for drying and the night shift to remove the masking.





RED Paint at Port Side

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By dinner time , she is ready to come out of her plastic cocoon; almost 5 hours after the last paint was applied.





With all hands on deck, she was quickly unwrapped like a child unwrapping her present.



Wa laa. And after almost 4 hours of unmasking (with breaks in between), she reveals her beauty to the first lucky few that night.

There was a moment of silence and almost felt that everyone is experiencing a blast from the past. I was certain that for those of us who have seen and flown the retros,

they were reliving MAS golden years. For me, it brought me back to SZB in the early 80s when I first saw the retros.







She looks like a Russian cargo...



All thanks to the night shift crew and I am able to go back slightly earlier and continue the next afternoon for the 40 anniversary decal.





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Putting up the 40 Anniversary Decal is not an easy task. It takes experience and gut feel to translate a 2D visual into 3D decal placement.



That is why, it takes them the whole afternoon just to adjust and readjust before finally sticking it. Bear in mind that this is just on the port side only.

The night shift will do the starboard side.





After around 4 hours, the crew finally got the port side done.





The 40 decal comes in sections and the crew assembles them like a jig-saw puzzle; putting them in place and tape them. They had to meticulously ensure that all lines are aligned.



The night crew begin measuring, water-leveling and locating the correct positions.







Slightly after 3am. They are done.



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