The DC-9 was designed in the early 1960s as a short range jet airliner to compete with the Caravelle and BAC 1-11. It emerged the winner in the short term, outselling both other designs combined. In turn, it was outsold by Boeing's 727 and 737.
Very little flash, very fine engraved panel lines that are out of scale for 1/144 but will look good under a coat of paint. No clear parts. All parts are contained on one sprue. It has something of the feel of a limited-run kit, but the surfaces of the parts are as nicely smooth as anything from the mainstream.Fuselage
The fuselage is two halves from nose to tail. The air conditioning inlet at the base of the fin is not properly contoured, something that Airfix managed to capture correctly 38 years ago. It will have to be built up on either side with plastic card and sanded smooth. I taped the two kits' fuselage halves together to illustrate what needs to be done. Note the subtle bulge on the Airfix fin that's just not there on the Fly kit. Fly did get the “double bubble” cross section correct though. They also captured the facets above the windscreen, but missed the one below. The nose should look like this: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Pan-Am-World/McDonnell-Douglas-DC-9-31/1933475/L/
If you like clear windows you're out of luck with this one. There is no option for lowering the aft airstair. The Fly kit provides 25 resin antennae and drain mast, of which only 5 are needed for this boxing. The AZ kit provides these same 5 parts in etched metal. The instructions mention the need for nose weight but do not specify an amount.Wings
The wings are two pieces each. The trailing edges could benefit with a little thinning, and the ejector pin towers inside the wings must be ground down before assembly. The fit is not quite good enough to enable the wings to be attached after painting; they will have to be done first and masked off. The flap actuator fairings are separate, as are the vortilons which mount below the leading edge. These parts are fairly small, and prone to pinging off to vanish into the lair of the carpet monster if the builder is not careful. The locating points for these parts are very small, and could benefit from being drilled out a little Empennage
The tailplanes are one piece mouldings . They should be mounted at a slight anhedral angle. There is only one small pin that mounts into a dimple on the fin. This may benefit from drilling and pinning to improve the security of the join. Since many DC-9 liveries cover the entire fin, the tailplanes should be left off until after painting and decalling is complete. The DC-9's elevators are controlled by servo-tabs and not interconnected so it is quite common to see them deflected at different angles while the aircraft is not flying: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Aserca-Airlines/McDonnell-Douglas-DC-9-32/1927352/L/ Engines
The engines are two halves plus engine faces and exhaust fans. The pylon is one piece moulded with the fuselage, neatly avoiding the filling problem of the Airfix kit. It looks a little small compared to the Airfix pylon.Landing gear
The landing gear struts and wheels are basic. They could use some brake lines and whatever else the modeller likes, but will look acceptable as-is. There is no option for raised gear, and no stand is provided. There is no detail in the wheel wells and although there is a separate nose well, very little of it will be seen due to the very small opening. As with all 1/144 kits, the gear doors are overly thick and may be replaced if the modeller wishes.Accuracy
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it will look like a DC-9. Decals and markings
The decal sheet is good, with a nice selection of stencils and complete set of windows. The Fly kit provides two sets of markings for UN Humanitarian Air Services aircraft which are in overall white with prominent black UN marks on the fin. Neither is very colourful. Fly issued several other boxings for USAF, USN, SAS and the unique Firebird II research aircraft (which is what those other 20 antennae are for) The AZ Models boxing provides markings for Swissair and JAT from the late 1960s/early '70s, which is nice to see. There are dozens of aftermarket sheets available for the DC-9 if the kit offerings do not appeal to you.Conclusion
The DC-9 is another wonderful kit to get started with conversions. The many varieties of DC-9s may be produced by cutting the fuselage in varying places and mixing the parts. Russel Brown's Airline Modeller magazine Volume1 Number 2 from December 1995 ran an article detailing how to make all versions from the -10 to the -50. Back issues are available from Airline Hobby Supplies for US$5.00 each. The same issue includes a set of detail photos of DC-9-30s which will be quite useful when building the model. Volume 4 Number 1 from April 1998 has a build article describing an award winning build of this kit in Southern Airways markings.