Whenever I write a history of one of my US Douglas DC-9s in 1/400 scale there is a good chance that it will have ended up with Northwest, and even possibly Delta, through the continual mergers that constituted the deregulated aviation market in the USA during the 1980s. Following the recent release of a couple of nice NW nines by Aeroclassics in this post I'll quickly look at the livery transitions many of these Diesel Nines went through.
In the following images time moves from the left to right illustrating the various schemes that Douglas DC-9s wore from 1968 until 2003 as they moved through the consituent airlines that would come to be part of Northwest Airlines. Of course the nine's livery history goes beyond the 1989 Bowling Shoe scheme; with the 2003 NWA compass livery and then, post the 2010 Delta merger, the current DL livery, but both those schemes are outside of my collecting criteria.
Double click the small thumbnail images to see them full size. All models are either 1:400 Aeroclassics or Gemini Jets mould DC-9-30s.
Let's take a closer look at these aircraft and their liveries:
Part 1: Air West - Republic
Air West was formed on July 1, 1968 with the combination of Bonanza, West Coast and Pacific and had a sharp new 'Fiesta' livery in 4 different colour combinations. Here are two:
Air West was not a success (see upcoming two part blog series) and was bought out by Howard Hughes' Hughes Tool Co and Howard himself on April 1, 1970. In late 1971 a new image was unveiled for the new Hughes Airwest designed by Mario Zamparelli and known as 'Sundance'. The airline became 'Top Banana in the West'!
Hughes Airwest was taken over on October 1, 1980 by the new Republic Airlines.
Part 2: Southern to Republic
Southern Airways had been flying the 'Route of the Aristocrats' since 1949 and its first Douglas DC-9s introduced in 1967 the 'Aristocratic S' livery below. An attractive and classy update to their pre-jet livery with a new S logo:
After 5 years a new scheme was introduced in 1972 which had a new 'Flightmark S' logo on a royal blue background. This scheme popularly became known as the 'Spaghetti Stripes' livery:
Southern merged with North Central Airlines on July 1, 1979 to form the new Republic Airlines. Although technically a merger NC was the senior partner.
Part 3: North Central - Northwest
North Central was originally Wisconsin Central in 1951 and acquired its first DC-9s in 1967. The first DC-9 livery has actually yet to be made in 1:400 scale but can be seen by this awesome reproduction by Chuck Boie from the fabulous 'hermantheduck.org' website. Click the image for a detailed description of the 1967 scheme:
The livery was simplified in 1972 with the removal of the gold trim and geometric feather:
North Central played around with a pair of experimental liveries in 1978/79 both of which can be seen to have elements later used in the Republic livery:
The July 1, 1979 takeover/merger of Southern created the new Republic Airlines. Republic dabbled (no pun intended considering Herman) with a few variants of their new livery like below on N963N:
They settled on a scheme that combined the colours of North Central and Southern together and kept Herman on the tail:
They introduced a new livery in 1984 commonly known as the 'Mary Tyler Moore' livery with Herman much reduced in size and relocated but it has not appeared in 1:400 scale yet and not all the fleet wore it before the airline was swallowed by Northwest on October 1, 1986. Here is the new scheme on a short nine. Herman is tiny just behind the door:
Northwest repainted the Republic fleet into their modified Northwest 'sans Orient' thermometer scheme but the result was a mixture of grey painted and natural metal aircraft.
A couple of years later in 1989 The Bowling Shoe livery arrived to take Northwest into the new millenium.
The DC-9s provided faithful service well into the 2000s and in fact the last DC-9-30 left the Delta fleet on November 2, 2010, whilst the larger series 51 survived into 2014.
As you can see to make the story complete above there are still two liveries to be made in 1:400 scale whilst it'd be nice to be able to replace the inferior old Gemini DC-9s (there are 4 above - Hughes Airwest, Southern Spaghetti and the last 2 NWs) with the superior Aeroclassics Dc-9 mould too.
Obviously one of the holy grails for 1:400 would be a modern short DC-9 mould, which could wear pretty much all the liveries above also.
Many of these models will feature in future blog entries for the airlines described here so stay tuned to Yesterday's Airlines to learn more of the airlines that formed the Northwest of the 90s.
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: