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Old 03-07-2012, 02:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

So far in this series I've looked at my fleets of Northeast, Braniff, Western, Continental and Eastern models. Now its time to go dixie and check out Delta:

Originally started as a crop-dusting organisation in 1924, by 1935 Delta had expanded beyond its original Dallas-Jackson route to win the Trans-Southern Route which went all the way from Dallas-Charleston via Monroe, Birmingham and Atlanta (amongst other stops). By 1940 Delta had received its first DC-3s very soon after its first DC-2s. The creation of the CAB in 1938 benefited Delta and it gained new routes to Savannah, Cincinnati and New Orleans in the early 40s. At this stage Delta had a winged triangle logo (as seen on the DC-3 below).

The end of WW2 saw great strides for Delta as they finally broke out of the south and got important routes linking Atlanta-Miami and Cincinnati-Chicago whilst DC-4s joined the fleet also. For the first time Delta would be competing directly with its much larger rival Eastern. In 1948 Delta got 5 DC-6s and introduced the Flying D colour scheme - initially in silver but later white topped (seen below on the CV440). Convair twins arrived in the early 50s and growth was steady until 1953 when Delta took over the smilarly sized Chicago & Eastern Airlines to become temporarily Delta C&S. This almost doubled the network and fleet (added Connies and 10 more Convairs). The marriage was almost perfect and the arrival of DC-7s in 1954 and the award of the much coveted link from Atlanta to New York continued Delta's impressive growth. By the late 50s Delta was a powerful player in the South and East and had grown from being just another small trunk to the 6th largest US airline by fleet (26 aircraft in 1950 to 84 by 1960). That this had been achieved was in large part due to the leadership of its President and G.M. C.E.Woolman.

Even better Delta scooped Eastern to become the first airline in the world to operate the DC-8 (hours before United did the same) on the Atlanta-New York route in September 1959. Eight months later CV-880s arrived giving Delta the start of a modern jet fleet. Then in 1961 Delta was awarded the Southern Transcontinental route connecting Dallas and Atlanta with San Francisco and Los Angeles. Delta was finally a proper trans-con airline and things would only get better as the Widget era loomed.

That's where we'll head next but before that below are my pre-widget Deltas. I did have the old Aurora DC-6 but sold it in prep for getting the new GJ one, but unfortunately that hasn't arrived quite yet. I'm also lacking any Delta C&S aircraft but below are four different schemes of this era in Delta's history.

Incidentally someone really does need to do some Chicago & Southern aircraft. They had a great yellow and green scheme and a DC-4 and Connie would be most welcome!

For more information on Delta's logos through the years see this page: Delta Museum - Delta History





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Old 03-07-2012, 05:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

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Originally Posted by RStretton View Post
So far in this series I've looked at my fleets of Northeast, Braniff, Western, Continental and Eastern models. Now its time to go dixie and check out Delta:
....
Very informative and nice pictures.

Thank you.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

That DC-3 is a pretty rare find...not bad.
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

the details are amazing!
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Old 03-08-2012, 02:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

Moving on. C.E. Woolman had always had a great relationship with Douglas so it was no surprise at all when Delta ordered DC-9s in 1963. But Woolman wouldn't see them enter service as he was replaced as President by Charlie Dolson in 1965 the year they arrived (with Delta as the launch customer). By that time Woolman was an old man and presumably ill as he sadly died in 1966. He deserves a huge amount of credit for getting Delta where it is today and I can't help feel that he is unfairly far less well known than other formative airline men like Rickenbacker, Hughes, Harding, Trippe etc. In many ways though less extravagant he did a better job. See his biography here Delta Museum - Delta History

Delta's classic widget scheme had ben introduced in 1962 and the new DC-9s initially had a new variant of it with the widget on its side. Known as the 'Rocket widget' this was purely because people didn't think the Widget would fit well to the Nine's tail. Later they took on the standard widget.

Delta had for many years also had an air-freight division using C-46s. In 1966 they replaced these with 3 Hercules becoming one of the first commercial operators. The Hercs were used on freight schedules and to ferry engines and equipment around the DL system. Their days were curtailed however by the arrival of the wide-bodies which had plenty of underfloor storage and they were sold off in the early 70s.

Here are a selection of 1960s Widget schemed aircraft:







Delta entered the 1970s in a strong position and consolidated that by taking over Northeast Airlines in 1972. From then the concept of the big four was no more and from then on there was a big five.

Delta also jumped into the widebody market with zeal taking onboard 747s from October 1970 on their ATL-DFW-LAX route. Still as with most US trunks Delta simply didn't have the routes for them and the fuel crisis didn't help. They were gone by 1977 but Delta still had a large fleet of widebodies in the form of the L1011 Tristar. Considering their history with Douglas it seems odd the DC-10 didn't get the nod (though they did operate some as a stop-gap for a short while) but with Woolman gone I guess Delta's Douglas ties were loosened somewhat. In 1977 Delta got its first transatlantic route between ATL and LGW and to cater for that several Tristar 500s were also ordered.

The 70s saw Delta's fleet standardise. Most of Northeast's fleet of DC-9s, FH-227s and 727s were sold quickly whilst the CV-880s (no longer economical) also went. Replacing these were Delta's own fleet of 727-200 Advanced models. Late to the 727 party Delta took on over 120 of these including the 1000th to come off the line.

In 1976 Delta celebrated the US Bicentennial by painting its Widget in flag colours. Below are a selection of my Delta fleet from the 1970s. The shorter DELTA titles were adopted around 1969/70 and the full dark nose arrived on the Tristars around 1976.





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Old 03-10-2012, 09:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

Great array of widgets, and really good depth of field with the photographs. You gotta love the widget - I still think that livery hasn't been bested. I have limited my fleets to PanAm and Lufthansa, but going for a widget fleet is hard to resist. The Gemini L-1011 has that seam at the base of the tail which nags at me, and there's the second seam at the horizontal stabilizers - ouch. Blue Box also has the tail seem, and that detracts from the smooth sculptured skin around the S-duct which, for me, is one of the striking features of the L-1011. I think the Dragon Wings version is the only one that doesn't have that seam. But opinions are like anal sphincters - everybody's got one... Outta here, Doug

Last edited by doug seeley; 03-10-2012 at 10:20 AM. Reason: tweaket it
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

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Great array of widgets, and really good depth of field with the photographs. The Gemini L-1011 has that seam at the base of the tail which nags at me, and there's the second seam at the horizontal stabilizers - ouch. Blue Box also has the tail seem, and that detracts from the smooth sculptured skin around the S-duct which, for me, is one of the striking features of the L-1011. I think the Dragon Wings version is the only one that doesn't have that seam. But opinions are like anal sphincters - everybody's got one... Outta here, Doug
Thanks Doug. The rear seams on some Gemini moulds don't tend to bother me much but I agree they can be irksome. Annoyingly the Dragon L1011 doesn't seem to have quite as good a nose as the Gemini and Blue Box's printing seems to be a bit wayward sometimes.
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Into the 1980s and Delta seemed to sail through into the de-regulation era without any major issues probably helped by the near chaos happening over at Eastern. Service to Honolulu from ATL via DFW started in 1984 and of course Delta was able to swallow up Western in 1987 adding LAX and SLC hubs and a number of international routes to Canada and Mexico.

Meanwhile Delta solidified its relationship with Boeing by taking early delivery positions for both the 767 (service entry in 15th Dec 1982) and 757 (service entry 28 Nov 1984). They also took a substantial fleet of late model new 737-200s in the early 80s whilst choosing the MD-88 in 1986 partly because it could be fitted with the new UDF Prop-fan engines if they became viable.

Meanwhile on the long-haul front Delta began to expand opening routes to Germany, France and Ireland across the Atlantic and begining their first trans-pacific route in March 1987 to Tokyo. Soon afterwards Seoul, Taipei and Bangkok were added and Delta needed a new long-hauler to eventually replace the Tristars. Staying true to Douglas they ordered MD-11s which would be delivered from 1990. Though not quite meeting expectations the type did allow Delta to expand overseas routes and consolidate its position as one of the best run of the US majors.

In 1991 Delta was able to pick the bones of Pan Am and took away with it several of the latter's A-310s. It even ordered its own Airbuses however their service was short as the fleet was consolidated around 767-300s. Finally in 1997 the widget livery was controversially retired in favour of the Ron Allen colours - a conservative reimagining of the widget.

Below see my Delta's from the 1980s and 1990s.









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Old 03-11-2012, 05:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

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[URL="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6954384567/"
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Would love to see these done in 1/200 metal for my Delta collection
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Old 03-11-2012, 07:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

I love the pictures but the historical account is amazing. Waiting for the next round of pictures and definitley the historical part.
Fantastic.!!!
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Old 03-11-2012, 07:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

I love your historical posts too and this section in particular appeals to me. Way back in the early 80's I bought a 1:144 kit model of the Delta Widget 762shortly after they brought them into service, I keep meaning to try and track down a 1:400 diecast nowadays. I also remember the big campaign on 400 Scale Hangar to try and get Gemini to produce the 752, successful it was as well.

My only Widget so far in diecast is the Gemini/Schuco Delta-Belle tristar, a great livery and a tremendous legacy airline.
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Old 03-12-2012, 12:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Flying D's & Widgets: My Delta Air Lines Fleet

Early Years: More Boom - and Crisis

The years 1940-1941 saw two major developments in Delta's early history that proved to be catalysts for their future.

Base of Operations: Salem Field in Monroe, Louisiana had been Delta's base of operations since the airline began passenger operations in 1929. But, by 1940, the airline's Atlanta hangar lease with Eastern was ending and they had reached no agreement with Monroe to further justify their operations at Salem Field. Because Atlanta was a fast growing city and connected their new route to the Ohio Valley, Delta turned to Atlanta city officials to negotiate the development of a new hangar and adjoining office building for immediate construction. Financing this deal put a great strain on Delta's books and the day of reckoning would come in 1941.

Financial Vialibility: In 1941, Delta's founder, C.E. Woolman won CAB approval for a route extension into the Ohio Valley. This expansion required new aircraft and Delta purchased DC-3 equipment. With commitments to loans and complex stock transactions mounting, Delta sought CAB approval to raise their mail rate. Rebuffed by the CAB, Delta offered a new stock issue but found no buyers. The financial crisis continued when they couldn't meet their payroll and for the first time in years, the airline suffered a deficit of $86,000. As the airline's financial rivets were popping out like popcorn, Delta convinced tobacco heir, R.J. Reynolds Jr. to purchase a large block of the new stock and the storm passed.

Reference: Delta: The History of an Airline, W. David Lewis and Wesley Phillips Newton (1979)
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