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      NX28388


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      Post #69027, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      With the release of the Eastern Express DC-9 I thought it might be appropriate to compare this kit with the Airfix DC-9 and the Fly DC-9, and to compare all of them with a couple sets of drawings. None of this is empirical and none of this should be taken as gospel; it's more my effort to make sense of how three manufacturers interpreted the same subject, and to decide which of the three is most worth my attention.

      Please note that my comparison is limited only to injection-molded kits. The Authentic Airliners kits are not under consideration in this write-up because (a) they are their own thing and it wouldn't be a fair fight, (b) they're not injection-molded kits, and (c) I don't have an unbuilt Authentic Airliners DC-9 on hand.

      (As a side note, I will stipulate that if you want the most accurate DC-9 kits available, get the Authentic Airliners kits. But this thread is not about those kits, nor are they within everyone's price range. We have had that discussion several times before and I'd rather not replay it yet again here, so PLEASE stick to the plastic kits in the comments. Thank you in advance.)

      Let's begin by looking at the three contenders:



      Silver plastic is the Airfix DC-9-30. White plastic is the Fly DC-9-30. Gray plastic is the Eastern Express DC-9-30. Their tailcones are touching the same line, but if you look closely you can already see a significant dimensional difference.

      Now let's compare these to some drawings. For this comparison I used a set of modelmakers' drawings from McDonnell Douglas, and a set of DC-9 drawings by Jennings Heilig. Here is the Airfix kit against the MDC drawing:



      and against Jennings' drawing:



      There may be a difference or two in interpreting a curve, but Airfix pretty much got it.

      Eastern Express on the MDC drawing:



      and on Jennings' drawing:



      Here, too, everything generally appears to line up.

      The Fly kit gets interesting when you compare it to the MDC drawing:



      and against Jennings' drawing:



      In both the fuselage half is placed where the wing should be, and from the leading edge aft things match the drawing reasonably well. But forward of the wing, the fuselage is about 3.5 mm too long. I also noted a different interpretation of tail sweep and fairing shape, as if the Fly kit's is a little too scrawny (which I am sidestepping by building this as an early VC-9C with the rectangular fairing on the tail).

      If you really want to see a difference, here's the Fly fuselage half taped together, wing location to wing location, with an Airfix fuselage half:



      In comparison, here's how the EE kit matched up.



      I wanted to further investigate why the Fly kit's spoken of as looking strange, so I marked the locations of certain fuselage landmarks on the MDC drawing and compared them to the Fly fuselage:



      With the wing box corresponding to the drawing, you can see how far back the engines are on the Fly kit compared to the real thing. I'm not really sure any of the DC-9 kits really nailed the location - here's the Fly engine location compared to the Airfix kit:



      It looks to me that Eastern Express placed the engine a little more accurately:



      In both photos you can see the EE and Fly kits have problems with pylon shape and engine angle, but the Fly kit has the most obvious issues. Its pylon is much too narrow and holds the engine too close to parallel with the fuselage, and looks more like the pylon on an MD-80. That contributes to why the engine sit looks so off. The pylon needs to be built outward. I did that by sawing a slot lengthwise through the molded-on pylon and inserting a piece of plastic cut to the correct shape, then building up around it. I also used drawings to help mount the engine just a little further forward.

      The Eastern Express engine needs a little more outward angle on the forward end, and the pylon doesn't reach the end of the hot section. Fortunately, the pylon is a separate part and it's not difficult to fix. Just cut carefully down most of the pylon's length, add a .020 shim forward to push the engine angle out a little bit and fill the rest with cyanoacrylate glue, and add a piece aft to correct the trailing edge shape. Fill the gaps and sand to shape and it's better than new.



      The Airfix pylon has the most accurate shape, but has that weird split down the middle that's difficult to fill and sand (my solution was to cut the pylon from the engine, glue the pylon together and finish the seam, and mount the engine as its own assembly).

      Note too that the Airfix kit engines are smaller than the EE and Fly engines. The Fly engines seem just a little oversized and I don't like the clunky reverser fairings, but the EE engines look good and have nice detail. The EE hot sections are configured for the rotated burner cans, but since the reverser fairings are separate parts it would be easy to build an aircraft without the rotated cans.

      Here is a comparison of the kits' wings with the MDC drawing. Airfix is a tiny bit short at the tip but otherwise measures well:



      Eastern Express performed favorably, and no need to rescribe anything:



      Fly has scribed panel lines, but doesn't have the finesse of the other two kits:



      The Fly wing has one more problem: the top and bottom halves have much the same airfoil shape, resulting in a very thick wing. I was able to salvage the wing by using the same sanding method used to sand down the mating surfaces of vac-formed kit wings. I put more emphasis on reducing the curve effect of the lower wing half. While it wasn't perfect, it did make a huge difference in how the wing looks. Unfortunately, the wing mounting tab is molded to the lower wing half and sanding the inner surface also sands away the tab, so it means you'll have to exercise care mounting the wing to the fuselage.

      Now it's on to tailplane comparisons. Airfix has raised lines and petite detail:



      Eastern Express adds some delicate fairings (I'm using the opposite in this photo because the other stabilizer was a tiny bit short-shot on the trailing edge):



      Fly has a blobby-looking fairing:



      One more issue that's come up in discussing the Eastern Express kit is this, the series 33/34 wing/fuselage fairing:



      A disappointment if you want a -31 or -32, but it looks good for the (rare but underrepresented) -33/-34, and there's enough material that you can sand it flat to -31/-32 spec and scribe the separate fairings and fuselage carry-through. I know this because I did it after taking this picture; it took all of about 10 minutes, and with some careful scribing I had a nice -31/-32 belly section.

      There were some things I didn't get into with this comparison. I didn't look at landing gear or other details, as my main interest was in overall shape and dimension. I also didn't get into shape of the cockpit cab, in part because my EE kit was shipped without a clear piece. (No big deal, as I usually equip my DC-9 variants with resin copies of the Minicraft MD-80 cockpit cab.) Nor did I get into all the individual issues with the Fly kit, including its apparent use of several MD-80 components in the details.

      Out of all this, my conclusions weren't what I expected. I knew the Fly kit had dimensional issues but I was surprised by how many I found, and with those inaccuracies it's the definite third-place finisher. It looks like a DC-9 and from an assembly standpoint should do fine, but to me it's an example of "new kit doesn't necessarily mean better kit," and I'll probably have to steal some Airfix parts from the stash to correct some of the borrowed MD-80 elements. With the Fly kit's relatively high price tag, I can't see buying more than this one.

      The Eastern Express kit is well-detailed, compares very favorably with the drawings, and looks like it will build very nicely. Where the Fly kit fell short, Eastern Express came through. Had EE gotten the pylons correct, this kit would probably be the winner. The pylons can be fixed, but at close to $50 US each it's hard to justify buying more than one of these kits.

      The real surprise to me was seeing how well the Airfix kit still holds up. Yes, it's an old kit with raised panel lines, no lobe crease, simplified detail, no cockpit definition, that aggravating pylon split, and engines that look a little small. But from a dimensional standpoint, Airfix got it right, and its major shortcomings aren't anything a reasonably good modeler can't fix. Best of all, not only is it dimensionally sound, but the Airfix kit is plentiful and inexpensive. For the cost of one Fly or EE kit you can buy several Airfix kits - and if you're like me, you have more than enough DC-9 decals in your stash to keep you busy.

      I am working on a build of each kit with an eye on correcting major issues, and will post photos and findings as I get them finished.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69028, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thank you Jodie so much; I've always thought the Airfix kit was best even in it's old age, but except for the lack of a fuselage crease, it still is number one! Great work!!

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      Post #69029, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Outstanding review Jodie! I was wondering what options I should choose as a clothes horse for the DC-9 decals in my stash. I won't be getting rid of the Airfix kits that I already have!

      I have a question for you or any other readers. Is the Ukraine company "AMP" the same as Eastern Express? I picked up the AMP MD-87 over the holidays and it looks really decent. I recall seeing somewhere that they might be releasing a DC-9 also. The wing/fuselage fairing in my MD-87 kit looks similar but not exactly like the one in your photo above. Nor should it be identical as it is for the later MD-87.

      Have fun modeling!
      Mike

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      Post #69030, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Excellent review/analysis from my favorite DC-9 expert!

      Michael McMurtrey
      IPMS-USA #1746
      IPMS-Canada #1426
      Carrollton, Texas

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      Post #69031, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Jodie, thanks so much for your excellent work here! You've pointed out some much needed fixes to help all of these kits, and like yourself, I'm surprised at how well the Airfix kit held up. I'd love to see a shot of the Airfix kit with the Minicraft replacement cockpit, as that sounds very interesting.

      Gene
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      Post #69032, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thanks for the kind comments, everyone. I hope this proves to be of some help.

      Gene, your Airline Modeller article on the Airfix DC-9 from about 20 years ago remains my best guide on how to improve that kit. The Minicraft cockpit cab makes a big difference. I'll have a build-up ready soon, I hope.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69035, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thanks for the kind words on my article. I've also thought of doing as you did with removing the Airfix engine from the pylon to ease dealing with that seam. Of late, I've been considering making a resin cast of the Fly, or now possibly the EE exhaust cone with thrust reversers as a replacement for the Airfix; any thoughts on that?

      Gene

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      Post #69038, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Gene, you'll definitely want to use the Eastern Express kit as your basis. The Fly engines are kind of simple and the lower nacelle curve is too deep. The basic shape of the EE engines and the definition of the reverser fairings is much sharper, and the exhaust has really nice depth. You may even want to consider casting the entire engine, as the inlet is really nicely done and the engine fan is pretty nice, too. Between adding a casting of Minicraft MD-80 cockpit cab and castings of the EE engines, the Airfix DC-9 would really look great.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69039, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thanks for the review!! Well done indeed. I'll be grabbing one of the EE kits as soon as I work my stash down a little.

      I do have to ask... What is the advantage of using the Minicraft MD-80 cockpit section? Is it really that accurate? Or is there some other reason?

      Chris

      "Sorry Goose... But it's time to buzz the Tower."

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      Post #69040, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      The MC MD-80 cockpit cab has a faceted windscreen with the correct flat center pane. I like its shape and it's a separate part that's very easy to cast copies of, and it's a quick and (to my eye) convincing fix for the rounded/vague Airfix cockpit.

      The only reason I'm using it on my EE kit is because mine was packaged without that piece. Using a resin copy of the MC piece means I don't have to wait for a replacement to arrive.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69041, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thanks for this interesting review. As you and others have said, who'd have thought the Airfix effort would be so accurate!
      I've got an EE KLM DC-9 on the way and am looking forward to building it. I've noticed a few other little things that I like and don't like about this kit but overall this will be my DC-9 of choice.
      On a wider note, it's good that the Douglas/MDD (and if you really must, the Boeing) T-tail is finally being kitted in its many versions. I really hope the MD-90 will be released too. I've got the EE MD-87 and will definitely get the MD-95/ B717 when its out.

      Jeff

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      Post #69043, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thank you for doing this review, I was really awaiting it!

      Some impressions from my side:

      - wrong engine detail on all kits. That PW thing has inlet guide vanes, not a fan at the front.
      - the gear looks correctly sized
      - the only correct cockpit window shape is fly. Airfix has some Glas window whatsoever, EE got the rear windows not right, minicraft exactly the same windows wrong, but in another way, and the only one with all angles, corners, shapes and alignment correct is fly...at least the only good thing on this kit haha (only for this Important who want to build it clear)
      - sinkmarks on some parts
      - I got mine for 20€ , on eBay you can get it for 24€ plus shipping.

      For me the EE is number one, due to many correct details and less things to correct.
      If Kurt would offer his engines for this kit, you‘d only have to correct the WBF.

      Atari

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      Post #69044, posted on 01-12-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Quote
      pinky coffeeboat :
      Thanks for this interesting review. As you and others have said, who'd have thought the Airfix effort would be so accurate!
      I've got an EE KLM DC-9 on the way and am looking forward to building it. I've noticed a few other little things that I like and don't like about this kit but overall this will be my DC-9 of choice.


      The more I work with my EE kit the more I like it. Once you correct the engine pylons it's a real beauty, and the plastic welds together really nicely. The only discouraging thing about it is the price, at least here in the US. If I could get them here at a $25 or even $30 per kit cost, I'd have no issue with building several.

      Quote
      On a wider note, it's good that the Douglas/MDD (and if you really must, the Boeing) T-tail is finally being kitted in its many versions. I really hope the MD-90 will be released too. I've got the EE MD-87 and will definitely get the MD-95/ B717 when its out.


      When I did the Squadron/Signal book on the MDC trijets, it was with gritted teeth each time I had to write "Boeing 717." I did it because it was the official nomenclature and I needed to use it for the book, but in my mind if it came off the line in Long Beach, it's not a Boeing product. (I'm grateful to Delta for giving those aircraft 9500-series fleet numbers as a nod to the original designation.)

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69045, posted on 01-13-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Very nice job Jodie! Thank you for doing this for us!

      Cheers,

      Dan

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      Post #69047, posted on 01-13-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thanks, Dan! (And thanks to everyone else for their input.)

      Mike asked a question about the MD-87:

      Quote
      Piedmont :
      Is the Ukraine company "AMP" the same as Eastern Express? I picked up the AMP MD-87 over the holidays and it looks really decent.



      I did a little detective work online and the AMP MD-87 contents look an awful lot like the Eastern Express MD-87 sprue shots here:

      http://www.pas-decals.ru/forum/novosti/1078-novinki-vostochnyj-ekspress?start=216#31948

      so I suspect it's the same plastic boxed under a different brand. In any event, you have a very good kit to build.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69049, posted on 01-13-2018 GMT-5 hours    


      The FLY kit has many faults but the nose is actually quite nice. The above photo shows the Airfix on the left and FLY on the right. The Airfix is shaped OK but lacks the definition of the FLY kit.

      Thank you for confirming the ill positioned engines of the FLY kit. I always knew they 'looked' too far back but never got around to confirming it.

      Best regards.....Duncan

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      Post #69051, posted on 01-13-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      On the engines, I've done some further examination. I can't post photos to my files from my home connection (for some reason, probably in the firewall or something, our network at the house doesn't like Airliner Cafe), but I have noted differences among the engines. As with my above observations, this has a great deal of subjectivity to it, so take it for what it's worth.

      Overall length varies by only a few millimeters. The Airfix engine is just a little short, like it could use a millimeter or so on the intake end. The Fly kit is a millimeter or two too long somewhere in the nacelle length. The EE kit seems "just right."

      In profile, the Airfix engines seem a little shallow along the bottom, which makes them look just a little scrawny. The diameter seems a little small. The Fly kit exaggerates the lower curve just a little bit, which makes them look too beefy. The inlet and fan diameter are larger than the Airfix versions. EE's engines look right somehow.

      Inlet end: Airfix has the fan disk mounting to a molded plate inside each engine half. The duct itself is a little shallow. The Fly kit has a raised and somewhat vague locating ridge on one engine half for the fan disk, and it takes some care to keep this piece straight. The EE kit has a nicely-defined inlet with decent depth and a mounting face for the fan disk.

      Exhaust end: Airfix provides nothing to mount inside the exhaust. Fly provides a disk and cone for the exhaust interior, but as with the fan disk there's not much to help you locate it, and it requires care to mount and align. EE provides a two-piece assembly to mount inside the exhaust. You probably won't see it when it's assembled, because the exhaust duct is deep.

      All the kits have seams inside the intakes that will require finishing. With both the Fly and EE kits, I was able to minimize the amount of finish work needed by sanding the mating surfaces flat before gluing them together with solvent cement (in my case, Tamiya Extra Thin). The seams filled themselves and needed only light sanding to finish off.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69055, posted on 01-14-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Quote
      NX28388 :
      Thanks, Dan! (And thanks to everyone else for their input.)

      Mike asked a question about the MD-87:

      Quote
      Piedmont :
      Is the Ukraine company "AMP" the same as Eastern Express? I picked up the AMP MD-87 over the holidays and it looks really decent.



      I did a little detective work online and the AMP MD-87 contents look an awful lot like the Eastern Express MD-87 sprue shots here:

      http://www.pas-decals.ru/forum/novosti/1078-novinki-vostochnyj-ekspress?start=216#31948

      so I suspect it's the same plastic boxed under a different brand. In any event, you have a very good kit to build.

      Jodie Peeler



      Add to that the Ukrainian company Mikro-Mir (MM). MM and EE shared the MD-11 model kit that I think MM initially produced. There's quite a bit of cooperation amongst the Eastern European model companies.

      With my Fly models, I added a strip of plastic card the same width as the moulded pylons to the outside of each pylon and sanded to shape. To my eye and when compared to reference photos, this placed the engine the right distance from the fuselage. I did a Fly DC-9 build for the Britmodeller group build a couple of years ago and made a few points about areas that were in need of improvement on this kit.

      Jeff

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      Post #69056, posted on 01-14-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      You can see some of Jeff's fixes here:

      http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235005603-fly-dc-9-15-and-26decals-cyprus-airlines/&

      They really help the Fly kit look better.

      One more thing that makes the Fly engines look weird is the reverser actuator fairings, which look kind of like ears. I found if you cut them off and make new ones, it improves the look an awful lot.

      Jodie Peeler

      In 1924 Wien was Alaska's first airline. In 1980 it still is.

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      Post #69057, posted on 01-14-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Thanks Jodie!

      "I did a little detective work online and the AMP MD-87 contents look an awful lot like the Eastern Express MD-87 sprue shots here:

      http://www.pas-decals.ru/forum/novosti/1078-novinki-vostochnyj-ekspress?start=216#31948

      so I suspect it's the same plastic boxed under a different brand. In any event, you have a very good kit to build."

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      Post #69098, posted on 01-19-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Got my EE DC-9-30 kit yesterday, and of course all of Jodie's observations are spot on. I know that Jodie said that her kit was missing the cockpit piece, but I believe she'd be happy with the one in the kit, as it is faceted like the one in the Minicraft MD-80.

      The only thing that I see as a possible challange is all of the tiny little parts that make up the landing gear, especially the nose gear. I like to add the gear as one of the last steps in finishing a model, and that may be hard to do in this case.

      Gene
      MOB

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      Post #69105, posted on 01-19-2018 GMT-5 hours    
      Quote
      Redbelliedjet :
      Very nice job Jodie! Thank you for doing this for us!

      Cheers,

      Dan



      Dittoes. My own IMHO conclusion in the Airfix vs Fly Models vs Eastern Express DC-9 comparison is... one "can't go wrong" with any of the three by my standard of 'close enough is good enough.' That aside, I'll pass on the EE kit due to its pricetag and senseless plethora of microscopic parts that, in 1/144, contribute nothing to making it look more like a DC-9. The Airfix kit will continue to do quite nicely, thank you, with a slight edge going to the Fly kit due to having the cabin floor level crease line and a nose section that better depicts 'the look' of a 1:1 DC-9.

      Todd
      IWA