Home Airline Profiles Delta Air Lines Liveries Through the Years

Delta Air Lines Liveries Through the Years

by Matt Falcus

Delta Air Lines is one of America’s longest-running airlines, having been established in in 1929.

Over the years it has grown into one of the world’s biggest carriers, merging with other airlines along the way – most recently, Northwest Airlines in 2008.

This has resulted in a huge fleet, a worldwide network and a number of huge hubs.


Delta’s Liveries

Over the years Delta Air Lines has changed its corporate look many times.

Some enthusiasts lament the loss of classic schemes like the ‘widget’ livery seen through the 1980s and early 90s, while others were very short-lived.

Here’s a look at some of the main liveries worn by Delta aircraft over the years.

Curtiss-Wright Travel Air S-6000 N8878 Atlanta 14/07/18

Stinson SE Reliant NC16181

The earliest Delta Air Lines liveries varied, with some aircraft wearing an all-black scheme with a red stripe, and others a blue scheme with red stripe.

It then moved into an era of polished metal fuselages with a basic blue cheatline and titles, common with all airlines at the time.

N4872C_DC7_DELTA CS_195407_46717_ZA_C_1024

Vintage Delta DC-7 Airliner Postcard, Delta - One Of America's Pioneer Scheduled Airlines, Douglas DC-7 1954 - 1968

From the late 1940s Delta’s livery transitioned to incorporate a stylised ‘Delta’ title on the forward fuselage and lower tail of its aircraft, along with a blue and red cheatline.

Delta Air Lines Convair 880-22 N8807E

Entering the jet era, Delta introduced its famous widget for the first time, which became the airline’s logo even to the present day.

A similar blue and red cheatline adorned the aircraft fuselage, which was now mostly painted white.

Martyn Cartledge / www.flywinglets.com

The widget appeared on the tail at this time, but would soon transition into something more recognisable, with a red portion being added. At this time, the cheatline and widget became black.

N808DE Manchester 13-9-2002

Delta’s livery changed again in the late 1990s to something more corporate and muted. The cheatline once again turned dark blue, and the widget expanded to fill the whole tail, with new two-tone blue titling.

In 2000 yet another Delta livery appeared, known affectionately as ‘wavy gravy’. This was in reference to a new scheme on the tail which looked like a wavy flag of blues and red. The widget was now relegated to a small logo alongside the ‘Delta’ title on the forward fuselage.

Wavy Gravy wasn’t the most popular scheme, and in 2007 Delta introduced its current livery.

While it lacks the classic appeal of the 1980s, it is a smart, modern scheme which reintroduces the widget on the tail, albeit now in two tones of red.

The Delta titles are in a new font, again with the widget alongside.

The fuselage is still mostly white, with a blue belly.


Which Delta livery did you prefer? Leave a comment below.


Delta Air Lines – The Book

This new book charts the history of Delta from its cropdusting days into the giant carrier it is today. Along the way you’ll discover the aircraft it flew, the liveries they wore, and the other airlines who merged in. Chapters on Chicago & Southern, Western, Northeast and Northwest Airlines all add to the story of the Delta we known today. Includes hundreds of photographs.

Order Your Copy




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Michael Cahill October 9, 2020 - 3:14 pm

The classic Delta livery was by far my favorite!

Erik van Dokkum September 16, 2021 - 7:11 am

I loved the wavy gravy on the MD-11 and the 777, but the livery which they had on the L-1011 for example will always be the best for me


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