Lots of people say the 1/2ton D44 from Ford's 77-1/2-79 F150 trucks is a bad axle to use. But figure, its installed in a truck that weighs much more than your Jeep and many truck owners run 33s on the stock truck setup. Many TJ owners install a 8.8 into the rear but that has tube-to-diff-housing issues which get handled. Why not do the same to the 1/2tn D44?
Yah, it uses radius arms, but so what. What do you think longarms from many aftermarket suspensions are? They tie the upper link to the lower link. Also, there are some things you can do to a Ford radius arm that minimizes the stock design flaws.
Many talk down on the axle, but really, it is bigger, larger, heavier than the stock D30 and has manual hubs, larger brakes, larger hub bearings and uses the same size ujoint (297/760) as benefits.
Yah, it will take some work to make it mount under the Jeep frame, but all that can be handled with a some intuative bracket design and welding. Get the matching rear 9" axle from the same truck.
97 TJ SE lifted, locked and rubbered for fun
94 YJ SE stock, 225s, Trail Tested