Thursday, May 22, 2014

Airfix/MPC 1/144 McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 American Airlines

My first ever airplane ride was in a TWA Lockheed L-1011 in the summer of '77. My family and I flew the red-eye nonstop from LAX to Newark NJ. The return flight was from Boston Logan to LAX nonstop on an American Airlines DC-10. I don't know if it was a dash 10 or 30, but I remember the DC-10 being a slightly better ride than the Tristar. I'll explain more about that in a future blog when I build the Revell L-1011. What I remember being really cool about the DC-10 was that it had a T.V. tube screen mounted in the bulkhead in front of our seats. The pilot turned on a closed-circuit video of the cockpit so we could see what takeoff looked like from the flight deck. On all the airline flights I've been on since, I've never seen any other airline do that.
Any way, I've built this MPC DC-10 in memory of that homeward flight at the end of my summer vacation back east in 1977. I also remember seeing a few DC-10s fly the circuit around Palmdale Air Force Facility, but they were outnumbered by L-1011s.
On this model I filled and sanded all the windows, polished the bare plastic to a smooth gloss, then masked and sprayed the gray areas with Tamiya Light Ghost Gray. I added a little more detail by painting the reinforced sections on the tail engine. The rest was sprayed with Testors aluminum buffing metalizer and buffed with a Dremel tool. I buffed lighter on the forward fuselage section to replicate the slight difference in shine on the actual N102AA. I did not use the kit decals, as they just didn't look right, so I replaced them with a set from ATP. Unfortunately it was a used set, and was missing the silver outlined windows. I used regular black window decals from a generic DC-10 set from Draw Decal.
All in all I think she looks good, although there are some inherent engineering problems with the Airfix DC-10. The engine pods on the wing hang way too low, and exterior detail is lacking. I hear Revell's DC-10 isn't much better, and Aurora's is to be avoided unless you want that executive desk model look. Interestingly, no model company has tooled a completely new DC-10 in 1/144 since Revell's in 1971! Welsh models makes a vacuform one, but vacuform and I don't get along very well.


  1. Model looks very nice Don. The DC-10 and L-1011 were both very nice smooth flying airliners. Been on an AA DC-10 from Dallas to San Diego, and an L-1011 from San Diego to Atlanta. I recently found the 1970s Revell DC-10 kit in Western markings. I plan on building it "one of these days."