Atlantis 1/72 Hughes AirWest DC-9

KIT #: 6004
PRICE: ~$40.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Ex-Aurora kit


The original DC-9 (later designated the Series 10) was the smallest DC-9 variant. The -10 was 104.4 ft (31.8 m) long and had a maximum weight of 82,000 lb (37,000 kg). The Series 10 was similar in size and configuration to the BAC One-Eleven and featured a T-tail and rear mounted engines. Power was provided by a pair of 12,500 lbf (56 kN) Pratt & Whitney JT8D-5 or 14,000 lbf (62 kN) JT8D-7 engines. A total of 137 were built. Delta Air Lines was the initial operator.

The Series 10 was produced in two main subvariants, the Series 14 and 15, although, of the first four aircraft, three were built as Series 11s and one as Series 12. These were later converted to Series 14 standard. No Series 13 was produced. A passenger/cargo version of the aircraft with a 136 x 81 in side cargo door forward of the wing and a reinforced cabin floor, was certificated on March 1, 1967. Cargo versions included the Series 15MC (Minimum Change) with folding seats that can be carried at the rear of the aircraft, and the Series 15RC (Rapid Change) with seats removable on pallets. These differences disappeared over the years as new interiors have been installed.

The Series 10 was unique in the DC-9 family in not having leading edge slats. The Series 10 was designed to have short takeoff and landing distances without the use of leading edge high-lift devices. Therefore, the wing design of the Series 10 featured airfoils with extremely high maximum lift capability in order to obtain the low stalling speeds necessary for short field performance.

I thought you might like to have some information on the two liveries that are included with this kit. The first is the box art plane from Hughes AirWest. This is a DC-9-14 and below is a photo of the plane and its history.

  N9102 West Coast Airlines 04.11.66 Left Fleet
  N9102 Air West 18.04.68 Left Fleet
  N9102 Hughes Airwest 04.70 Left Fleet
  N9102 Southern Airways 01.12.74 Left Fleet
  N9102 Texas International Airlines 16.09.76 Left Fleet
  N9102 Continental Air Lines 31.10.82 Left Fleet
  N9102 Sunworld International Airlines 01.11.83 Left Fleet
  N9102 Midwest Express Airlines 22.12.88 Left Fleet
  N9102 Great American Airways 01.89 Left Fleet
  N9102 Midwest Express Airlines 14.05.89 Left Fleet
  N80ME Midwest Express 08.89 Scrapped

The second set of livery options is for a TWA DC-9-15. While it was operated by fewer carriers, at least it seemed to have a longer operating life.

  N1057T Trans World Airlines (TWA) 11.10.66 Left Fleet
  G-BMAB British Midland Airways 28.11.79 Left Fleet
  HK-3958X Intercontinental Colombia 01.09.94 Left Fleet
  HK-3958 Intercontinental Colombia s05.05.04 Stored

I was delighted when Atlantis informed me it was sending in a review copy of this kit. I can remember building this one way back when it was in an Aurora box and molded in yellow plastic. It was a big model back then and it still is today. The molds themselves are actually very well preserved. There is only a touch of flash and that is located on the tips of the one-piece tailplanes. Easy to remove. I also noted that, typical for the day, there are a few small ejector pin marks that will have to be removed on some parts.

Keep in mind that this is a kit from the 1960s. As such, it is not one with the level of detail that we expect from modern kits. For instance, there are no gear wells. However, there are gear doors. As the major bits of the gear doors were normally closed on the ground, what is provided is adequate. Unfortunately, the stand did not survive the years and one is not included, though there is a slot in the fuselage for one. Fortunately, most of us can make one if we wish and I believe that these can be purchased as aftermarket items. 

The aircraft fuselage has no cabin windows, either. These are provided on the decal sheet. I would have liked to have had cockpit window decals as well, but one is provided with a nice clear cockpit window piece. The 'eyebrow' windows will need to be painted on. Wings are an upper and lower piece while the engine nacelles have first and last stage compressor pieces to be sandwiched in between the upper and lower nacelle halves. Note that the lower piece is a bit deeper than the upper so don't get those bits backwards. I would recommend putting in some nose weight if having the plane on its landing gear. Not sure how much will be required, but you can tape the big bits together to find out.

As you may have already guessed, there are markings for two planes. Both of them are good choices as they are fairly easy to reproduce as airliners liveries go. The box art plane is with Hughes AirWest, and the placement guide for that scheme is shown on the back of the instructions. All colors are generic. For the TWA option, there is a photo on the side of the box to help and a plethora of photos on the net. Decals are nicely done by Cartograf. I'm not sure if there are going to be any aftermarket sheets, but I would be surprised if some of the places who produce airliner decals did not do some for this kit.  


I spent a few of my Navy years around DC-9s and flew in many of them when I took Ozark Airlines non-stop from San Diego to St. Louis. As always happens, these aircraft have provided sterling service over the decades and are slowly disappearing from the skies; even those labeled as MD-80s, MD-90s, or 717s. However, it is great to see this one reissued and if you have the space for a 17 inch long aircraft, or just want something big and pretty straightforward to build, then this is it. Knowing airliner modelers, I'd bet this one sells out rather quickly. BTW, aside from the decals, it is all made in the USA.


Thanks t

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