American MD-80 Livery History (1983-2019)

JJ Skippy

Well-known member
Hello everyone! Today we have another livery history, this one consisting of the American MD-80! Not much changed across this aircraft physically through the years, but it was such an iconic aircraft for American Airlines.

1 - Delivery (1983)
In May 1983, American took delivery of their first Mad Dog, N218AA. This aircraft went to Jet Midwest Group in 2011 and has unfortunately been scrapped. I couldn’t find a good photo of her when she was first delivered, so here is a photo taken of another Mad Dog. Note the black nose and the Super 80 titles above the metal piece (I don’t know of its name).

This is a good segway into a more general assessment of the livery these Mad Dogs wore during their first few years. It was the standard American livery, but is known for the black nose and the Super 80 titles to distinguish it from its other aircraft. Their fleet would expand at a healthy pace throughout the 80s and 90s, and before long it would become the common aircraft in the sky, similar to how the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 are viewed among us today.

Sometime later, the Super 80 titles were removed, but the black nose remained.

2 - Reno Air Hybrids (1999)
Following the acquisition of Reno Air in 1999, American acquired 27 additional MD-80 and 90 aircraft. They were painted into the American colors but kept the white base color, and did have the Super 80 titles, and I have to say I almost like this better than the normal livery, but it still beats out this!

The MD-87s and MD-90s would also get the hybrid treatment:

All of Reno Air’s fleet wouldn’t last too long with American, as they were all transferred to other airlines into the 2000s.

3 - TWA Arrivals (2001)
Two years later, American would get a plethora of MD-80s from Trans World Airlines, or TWA. By this point, the base American livery was given a slight update, with the black nose coming off and replaced with a gray nose. Some hybrids did exist for a brief time, with this one being seen on 717s and 757s also:

Eventually, all ex-TWA MD-80s would be painted into full American colors. In total, the airline would operate 383 MD-80s.

4 - Final Years (up to 2019)
N984TW was the last MD-80 built, originally delivered to TWA in December 1999. The plane would go to American and flew the rest of its career with the Chrome.

It would fly the very last revenue flight for the type, AA80, from DFW-ORD, on September 4, 2019. It is currently stored at Roswell, but I am hoping someone will step in and preserve it. Many other MD-80s are preserved across the country for various uses, but this one holds the most significance due to it being the last one built. The American MD-80 is forever an icon.

#LongLiveTheMadDog. Feel free to post some stories about your experiences with the American MD-80. My parents got to fly on one in 1999; they didn’t know what they were flying on, but I did some digging recently and found the MD-80 to be operated on the flight they were on.


Well-known member
My last MD-83 ride was on N9615W an ex-TWA bird,DFW-JAX in 2017. Here is the model of the aircraft made by Jet-X in transition colors.


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Well-known member
I wish I flew on an AA MD-80! I have flown on quite a few Chinese MD-80s, but they are off-topic. Thank you for sharing, I feel like I should do a topic like this, maybe for the TWA L-1011s.


Active member
They never painted the tail early on for the MD-80s? Very interesting.
I've never really taken a closer look at AA MD-82, but I see they were bare on new airframes until the late 80's. Didn't MDD also switch to more composite parts (flight controls etc.) somewhen in those years? Might have been the reason for the entire fleet to go grey when the later deliveries just couldn't be polished.

JJ Skippy

Well-known member
Quite the fascinating detail observed! Maybe we can get GJ to do an American MD-80 with the polished tail rather than the grey painted that’s been done many a time before.


Active member
Quite the fascinating detail observed! Maybe we can get GJ to do an American MD-80 with the polished tail rather than the grey painted that’s been done many a time before.
I regret selling my DW version of this many years ago. It was IMO the only acceptable mould in this scale back then. Consequently I still hope for a new mould as the GJ mould wont get my money.


Well-known member
I love such details so I had a closer look. Here's two AA MD-82 - check the ailerons. I think I once read that not only airlerons but also the rudder went composite.
So check the ailerons here:

Top is 1989 built N501AA
Below is 1983 built N234AA (or also check above posted 203AA)

Yes, I'm into details as well. And you're correct..ailerons went composite, along with the rudder and tail.