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In-Box Review
McDonnell-Douglas MD-80
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by: Is a secret [ JESSIE_C ]


The MD-80 is a lengthened DC-9, with more powerful (and more fuel efficient) engines to allow it to carry its greater number of passengers. The wing was also increased in area to provide the lift required for its greater weight. The MD-80 made its first flight in October of 1979, and continues in service to this day.

First impressions
Details are very crisp and the execution is clean. The kit has almost no faults

The fuselage is in two halves with the exception of the tailcone, which is offered in either the old DC-9 style, or the “screwdriver” shape which replaced it. The tailcone is also in two halves and Minicraft's instructions would have you assemble both before joining them together. I recommend assembling each tailcone half to its respective fuselage half instead. The windscreen is included in a large piece of the forward fuselage to allow it to be glued and sanded without destroying the windows. The fit is quite good but because clear plastic shrinks differently from coloured plastic when cooling, some blending still needs to be done. Minicraft has captured the double bubble cross section and the windscreen area faceting above the windscreen, but not below it. There is a small strake to attach to the nose below the windscreen. Clear window lovers will not love Minicraft; they went the route of solid fuselages and decal windows. This offers a bonus to Minicraft, because in these days of highly customised aircraft very often no two window patterns are the same between airlines, and sometimes even between individual aircraft, not to mention the windowless freighter versions. Not moulding windows means that Minicraft can offer the same fuselage for any variant.

Each wing is offered in two pieces complete from root to tip. They have a nice set of interlocking tabs which will ensue they stay where they're supposed to. The fit is good enough that once properly cleaned up, they may be assembled and painted before being attached to the painted fuselage. The flap actuator fairings and vortilons are quite small and prone to disappearing into the lair of the carpet monster. The wings are where Minicraft made their only shape error. There is a subtle “crank” angle on the inboard leading edge where it dips down toward the root which may be seen in this photograph: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Delta-Air-Lines/McDonnell-Douglas-MD-88/1910898/L/ Look carefully at leading edge from the root to the first joint of the slat. Minicraft missed this and so the leading edge is a straight line from root to tip. Only the most dedicated airliner aficionado would care about this small error.

The tailplanes are one piece mouldings and should be attached at a slight anhedral angle. Since many MD-80 liveries cover the entire fin, the tailplanes should be left off until after painting and decalling is complete. The DC-9 family'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/

The engines are offered in 6 parts including left and right halves, cowling strakes, intake fan and turbine wheels, plus a one piece intake which includes a seamless duct. Airliner modellers have wanted a nice detail like this for years and finally Minicraft gave it to us. Now there's no excuse for having messy engines.

Landing gear
The landing gear struts and wheels are basic, and could benefit from a little extra detail, but they'll look good as-is. The gear doors are thinner than in past plastic kits, but still out of scale.

I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it looks like an MD-80

Decals and markings
This kit offers Delta's classic “widget” scheme in which the MD-80 entered service with Delta. My kit was apparently exposed to dampness and the decal paper appears to have had mould growing on it some portion of its history. I don't know how the decals will react once they're dipped in water. They were printed by Scalemaster and the printing is very nice, but Minicraft's decals have had a spotty record in action. Some work very well and others just simply don't. Luckily, Minicraft is famous for customer service, so if you got a duff sheet, they'll happily replace it for you. Only the basic colour scheme is provided. There are no detail decals apart from the wing escape markings. Flying Colors offers a detail sheet for those people in love with stencils: http://www.fcdecals.com/page.php?id=38
Highs: Beautiful fit and detail. It was simply the best airliner model ever when it was released.
Lows: Minor leading edge inaccuracy that most people will blissfully ignore. Minicraft decals sometimes have problems.
Verdict: You will enjoy building it. You will enjoy building it again.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:144
  Mfg. ID: 14534
  Suggested Retail: US$24.00
  PUBLISHED: Jul 22, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Is a secret (Jessie_C)

Copyright ©2021 text by Is a secret [ JESSIE_C ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Hey there folks. Thought I would post a couple photos of a completed model built from the above kit. The only difference is the one I bought was in USAir markings. I have said this before, but be warned again, the USAir version of this model kit needs decal preservative applied to the decal sheet before use. Three decal sheets later, I managed to cobble together a finished kit. The kit is very nice however, I recommend it to anyone who wants an MD-80 series in their collection. Hope this helps someone decide if they want to build one or not. Russell
JUL 26, 2011 - 01:21 PM

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