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Livery of the Week: Delta’s ‘Dark-Nose Widget’

The airline sported an iconic paint scheme for 15 years.

A Delta 727 aircraft (Photo: G B_NZ, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Editor’s Note: AirlineGeeks is excited to launch our ‘Livery of the Week’ series. Every Friday, a team member will share an airline livery, which can be from the past, present, or even a special scheme. Some airline liveries are works of art. The complexity associated with painting around critical flight components and the added weight requires outside-the-box thinking from designers. The average airliner can cost upwards of $200,000 to repaint, creating a separate aircraft repainting industry as a result. 

Have an idea for a livery that we should highlight? Drop us a line

Delta sported a distinctive look for over a decade with its “Dark-Nose Widget” livery. Introduced in 1982, this paint scheme became synonymous with the airline during the 1980s and early 1990s.

The Dark-Nose Widget livery featured a prominent element – a dark blue section extending from the cockpit towards the passenger cabin. This design element contrasted with the airline’s white fuselage and gave the aircraft a distinct, two-toned appearance.

A key feature was Delta’s “Widget” logo, a stylized red and dark blue triangle designed by Robert Bragg in 1962. In this livery design, the Widget logo appeared prominently on both the tailfin and the forward fuselage.

Complementing the dark blue and white color scheme was a cheatline – a thin red stripe above a thicker black stripe – that ran along the length of the aircraft. This design element added a touch of dynamism and helped visually break up the white fuselage.

The Dark-Nose Widget livery adorned a wide range of Delta’s fleet, including Boeing 727s, 737s, 757s, 767s, and MD-80s. It also appeared in slightly modified forms on the carrier’s L-1011 Tristar.

Later Paint Schemes

While the Dark-Nose Widget livery served Delta faithfully for over 15 years, the airline eventually introduced a new color scheme in 1997. The so-called “Ron Allen” interim livery, which preceded the current design, saw the return of the words “Delta Air Lines” to the fuselage and a revised color palette.

A Boeing 757 on exhibit at the Delta Flight Museum, located at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). (Photo: Shutterstock)

Unlike its U.S. airline peers, Delta does not have any retro liveries. However, the Dark-Nose Widget livery can still be found on Boeing 757-200 and 767 aircraft static displays at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta.

Looking for a new airplane model? Head over to our friends at the Midwest Model Store for a wide selection of airlines and liveries.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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