MD-11 / DC-10 comparison

I’ve occasionally been asked how to tell the DC-10 and MD-11 apart. This photo guide using World Airways DC-10’s and MD-11’s might prove helpful. World operated DC-10-30’s and MD-11’s in both passenger and freight configuration. World had 2 liveries in its fleet that appeared on both DC-10s and MD-11s, one all white (the old one), and one with the blue tail and red curved stripe (the new one). There were never any DC-10F’s in the new livery. Below are side-by-side comparisons in similar poses of DC-10F’s and MD-11F’s in the old livery, as well as DC-10 and MD-11 passenger airplanes in both the old and new livery. Note that World had other liveries prior to the MD-11 era, which aren’t pictured below.

See if you can spot some of the visible differences between the two aircraft:

  • The DC-10 is shorter than the MD-11 by roughly 20 feet (depends on the variant).
  • The MD-11 has winglets (the ‘tipped up’ parts at the ends of the wings).  The DC-10 does not.
  • The DC-10’s horizontal stabilizer (tail) is larger than the MD-11’s.
  • The DC-10’s tailcone is rounded, the MD-11’s is squared off (like a flathead screwdriver).
  • The DC-10’s lower aft cargo door on the right side is in the wing root fairing.  The MD-11’s is aft of the faired area.
  • The #2 engine inlet on the MD-11 is larger than on the DC-10.
  • DC-10-10 series aircraft (not shown here) do not have center gear.  DC-10-30 series and MD-11 aircraft do have center gear.

This column contains DC-10’s.

This column contains MD-11’s

DC-10F on final

MD-11F on final
Removed prior to public publication per Wim Callaert
DC-10F taking off

MD-11F taking off

DC-10 Passenger on final

MD-11 Passenger on final

DC-10 Passenger taxiing

MD-11 Passenger taxiing

DC-10 Passenger new livery on final

MD-11 Passenger new livery on final

DC-10 Passenger new livery on the ground

MD-11 Passenger new livery on the ground

and just for fun, here’s a set of pictures of various World aircraft
crossing the same bridge in Leipzig, Germany.  Included below is
N801DE, a former Delta MD-11 in partial Delta colors.  It has
since been sold to UPS.

All of these photos are copyright and are available in higher resolution versions at

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