1965 was a good year for the DC-9 programme as the first aircraft made its maiden flight and the Douglas nine overtook the BAC One-Eleven in terms of orders. Indeed airlines like Eastern, West Coast, Ozark and KLM were all placing orders. Eastern was already ordering the stretched DC-9 model that would become the series 30 (at the time Eastern called it the DC-9B). Later in the year Ansett, TAA, Swissair, Iberia, Saudi Arabian and Standard Airways would all be added to the order backlog although the battle at United was lost to the new 737-200.
The idea of the RC variant was that an airline would operate passenger flights during the day and cargo flights at night, however on this occasion Bob Six had made a mistake and the potential freight market he foresaw never really eventuated. The DC-9-15RCs rarely operated in all cargo config and were no doubt less efficient on passenger operations, due to their extra weight, than standard DC-9-15s. During the early 1970s Continental decided to standardise its fleet around the Boeing 727-200 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the DC-9s began to be sold off from April 1972.
Eight, including N8903, as CF-TOP, went to Air Canada who operated them in both passenger and cargo configuration. She was sold to Air Florida in 1977 as N60AF. Owned by Ross Avtn as N79SL from November 1979 and then ERDA US Energy (later as N179DE) she ended her service with the US Marshalls Service from 1999 as N814RW and was withdrawn by 2004. Despite their lack of success at Continental the DC-9-15RCs would find later careers with US domestic overnight small package operators for which they were ideally suited.
I should also note that Jet-X, the manufacturer of this model, has erred in not showing the cargo door at all on the port side! It should be obvious as well as the non-standard window configuration to accommodate it - see the below photo. Oops!
Continental continued its success into the 1970s but the tumultuous deregulated period of the 1980s would see the airline turned upside down and the short DC-9 re-enter the fleet along with its larger brother the DC-9-30. In part 2 we'll look at these later additions.
Note on the mould: The DC-9-10 series is possibly the most under-represented main version of a jet in 1/400 scale. Aeroclassics produced many on one of its first moulds at the end of the 1990s but this can't stand up to modern scrutiny which leaves only a handful built on Jet-X's, not perfect but pretty darn good, mould as you see here. Unfortunately Jet-X made a disaster of its TWA version's printing so not even this handful of releases are all collectable. I for one am crying out for more DC-9-10s so I can represent this important early jet in my fleet.
Waddington, T. Great Airliners Series Vol 4: McDonnell Douglas DC-9. World Transport Press. 1998
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: