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Thu Jul 15, 1999 10:52 am

Can anybody tell me an easy way to tell the difference between a DC-9 and the MD-80 series? I was looking at an Airborne Express DC-9 today and somebody asked how I knew it wasn't an MD-80. I had no good answer other than that I knew it was OLD.

RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 10:55 am

The DC-9 is smaller than the MD-80.

RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 12:17 pm

Not always ture on the DC-9 is smaller then the MD-80s.

The DC-9-50 is about the same size as the MD-87, and the 717-200, is the same size as the DC-9-30.

a good way is the the MD-80's hav a larger JT8D-200s then the older JT8D on the DC-9.

Also a better way, all MD-80s except a few like some Continental's, have a V-shape point at the back of the MD-80 (like the 777s), as the DC-9s have a a rounded point in the back.

Compare them to the pictures here in Airliners.Net to bet a better understanding.

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RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 2:46 pm

Another can't miss is that the top of the tail fin of a DC9 has a straight transition from the leading edge to the top of the fin. If you look at an MD-80's tail fin, the transition between the leading edge to the top of the fin isn't smooth. First the leading edge goes a little vertical before the curve starts towards the top of the fin. This is one of the very few ways you can tell an MD-8x appart from a DC-9 if you have nothing else to compare it to. For example against a backdrop of solid blue sky.
Another way is to look for the "strakes" (blades) that stick from the side of the fuselage - under the cockpit windows - and on the engine cowlings.

Look for example at picture #38979 in airliners.net. From this foto you can see the tailfin is from an MD-80 and not a DC-9.

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RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 3:18 pm

Dash8 is right about the tail section. However, the strakes under the left and right side of the cockpit also appear on the DC-9-50 and DC-9-51 series as well.

RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 3:24 pm

In reference to the post of size from ual1636, you can find facts about each commercial airplane here on airliners.net on the home page, just click on the aircraft stats and history and there ya go, wala.
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RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 4:13 pm

In additon to the 'strakes', the MD80 also has a galley door located just forward of the #1 engine. I don't think the -50's have that feature.
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RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Thu Jul 15, 1999 11:30 pm


Some informations on the differences between MD8x's, MD90's and DC-9-xx's can be found here:

http://surf.to/spotter and select "Plane Spotting" in the menu.


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RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Fri Jul 16, 1999 4:53 am

And to throw a little more confusion into the mix....

The MD-80's where originally designated DC-9-80's

Also the early MD-80's also came off the line at Long Beach with the curved DC-9 tail rather then the chiseled MD-80 tail. A good number of the early MD-80's have since been retro-fitted with the chisel tail.

Probably the best way to spot the MD-80 is from the larger diameter JT8-200 engines. Somebody might want to check me on this but on the MD-80 there are three belly compartments on the right side vs. two on the DC-9. One behind the wing and then on or two forward.
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RE: DC-9/MD-8x

Fri Jul 16, 1999 2:16 pm

That again depends on what MD-80 model we are talking about. The MD-87 and the 717 probabaly also have just two.

Also with regards to my previous post, you guys are right. I forgot about the -50 having strakes on the nose. However the -50 does not have them on the engines.....


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