Douglas DC-8-10/20/30/40/50


Just after the first flight of the prototype de Havilland Comet, Douglas Aircraft Corportation released a statement that it could only see a future for turboprop -powered airliners. Later when it emerged that Boeing was developing a jet airliner, Douglas felt compelled to match their efforts so as not to jeopordise their lead in commercial sales or lose prestige. The DC-8 was formerly announced on 7th June 1955. A cash-strapped Douglas couldn’t afford to privately fund the project and so started development at a slow pace allowing the Boeing ‘Dash-80’  707 to pave the way. Once jets were proving themselves to be economically viable Douglas launched a massive sales drive to win orders to help cover the development costs. Boeing was already well advanced with its model 707 and as a result the DC-8’s launch order (from Pan Am) in October 1955 had to be shared with the rival Boeing jet. In many ways the DC-8 was a superior aircraft to the 707, potential to increase size, capacity and efficiency were inherent in its design, and its wings endowed it with better low-speed handling and lift characteristics. The DC-8’s wider fuselage also allowed 6-abreast seating compared to 5 on the 707, and could bear a loaded weight of 265,000lbs (102, 200 kg) compared to 190,000lb (86,180 kg) for the ‘Dash 80’. To help compensate for their late start Douglas offered customers an aircraft capable of operating from existing airport facilities with superior performance and a wider choice of models. Initialy three types were offered to the airlines the DC-8-10 with Pratt & Whitney JT3s for domestic services, the DC-8-20 fitted with  JT4As intended for ‘hot and high’ airports and the DC-8-30 series also with JT4As and extra fuel capacity for intercontinental services.
The Douglas sales effort began to pay off when Pan Am quietly placed an initial order for 25 of the Series 30, an order which was only made public on the 13th October, 1955, when Pan Am also announced the order of 20 Boeing 707s. Further Series -30 orders were placed by Eastern, KLM, JAL, National, SAS, and United. Despite starting a year behind Boeing in entering the jet age by the end of 1955 the Douglas ‘marque’ and marketing skills had managed to secure orders for 98 aircraft from seven airlines whereas Boeing had only 73 from six airlines. This was due in part to Douglas’ foresight to develop an intercontinental version alongside the domestic model, the DC-8-30 flying well before the 707-320 Intercontinental. However the combination of a lucrative USAF tanker (KC-135) order being awarded to Boeing, the year’s delay in coming to market, and the apparent dissatisfaction of Pan Am with its DC-8-30s (which failed to meet the manufacturers payload/range guarantees), allowed Boeing to take a lead they were never to lose again.

Construction of the first DC-8 began at Long Beach, California, in February 1957 but because a full-scale mock-up, costing $7.5m, provided Douglas with most of the constructional information a prototype was never built. To speed entry into the market nine aircraft were used to aquire type certification.

Country of origin

United States of America

First Flight

DC-8-10: 30th May, 1958 Edwards AFB (DC-8-10)

Entered Service

DC-8-10: 18th September 1959 with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.


DC-8-10 : 28;  DC-8-20 : 34;  DC-8-30 : 57;  DC-8-40 : 32

DC-8-50 : 88;  DC-8-50AF : 15;    DC-8-50CF : 39


DC-8-10  - Four 13,000lb (5,895 kg) Pratt & Whitney JT3 turbojets

DC-8-20/30 - Four 15,800lb (7,165 kg) Pratt & Whitney JT4A-9 turbojets.

DC-8-40 - Four Rolls Royce Conway R.Co12 turbofans rated at 17,500 lb each.

DC-8-50  - Four 17,000lb (7,710 kg) Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofans


DC-8-73CF  - maximum cruising speed 887 km/h (551mph)  ; service ceiling 36,000ft (10972m) ; range with maximum payload and reserves 8,950 km (5,561 miles).


DC-8-73CF  - operating, empty 64,000 kg (141,100lb); maximum takeoff 161,025kg (355,000lb); Mamimum payload 58,410 kg (94,000 lb)


DC-8-10/20/30/40/50  - span 43.410m (142ft 5in); length 45.87m (150ft 6in)


DC-8-10/-20/-30/-40 :  3 flight deck; max 176 passengers in an economy layout.

DC-8-50 : 3 flight deck; max 189 passengers in an economy layout.

Related Links

The first model DC-8-10 series was fitted with Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojets and made its maiden flight from Edwards AFB on 30th May, 1958 and gained certification on 31st August 1959. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines started operating the first Series -10s by 18th Spetmeber, 1959. This series  included the DC-8-11 and DC-8-12 with increased weights and wing modifications. The fuselage remained the same length of 150ft 6in throughout the first five families of DC-8.

The DC-8-21 offered the Pratt & Whitney JT4A-9 engines and was tailored for ‘hot and high’ climates allowing a 10% shorter take-off run.

The series -30 offered the Pratt & Whitney JT4A engines and was an intercontinental development with 30% more fuel capacity. The aircraft first flew on 21st February 1959. Both the DC-8-31 and DC-8-32 featured increased MTOWs (increased by 6,300lbs [2,860 kg]) and range with maximum payload increased by 750 miles (1,205 km) to 5,400 miles (8,690 km). The DC-8-33 had modified flaps and JT4A-11/-12 turbojets.

Rolls-Royce Conway RCO.12 engines offering significant fuel savings replaced Pratt & Whitney units on the DC-8-40 which was delivered to Air Canada, Alitalia and Canadian Pacific from 1960.

The -50 series first flew on 20th December 1960, made possible by the introduction of the turbofan engine. The JT3D-1 turbofan was a development of the JT3C turbojet, and was a major improvement; quieter and allowing the Series 50 to carry the heaviest payload of the basic DC-8 family at 51,700 lb (23,450 kg), over a range of 6,815 miles (10,965 km) thanks to the  turbofan’s fuel economy. Other than a redesigned nacelle and pylon no other changes were required.
Five versions were eventually produced, the DC-8-52, -53, -54, and -55 with increasing MTOWs and JT3D engine ratings.
Douglas announced a Convertible Series 50CF freighter (DC-8-54CF) in April 1961, the ‘Jet Trader’ featuring a large forward door and strengthened floors with cargo handling equipment.
Some earlier Series’ 30, 40, and 50 were converted to this type by Douglas.
United Airlines placed an order for 15 all-freight Series 50s (DC-8-54AF) with almost all fuselage windows deleted and all passenger facilities removed.
Copyright MK Airlines. Click photo for full size.

Flight Sim Website

 Free Downloads at Historic Jetliners Group


 lots to choose from!


 Model by: HJG (Kim Simmelink & Dee Waldron)



 32 sided fuselage with double lobe cross-section construction.
 32 sided engine nacelles with 3D intakes and exhausts.
 Working translation rings with reverser buckets, throttle
 operated (F2 key).
 FS2002 style Lightmap external night lighting.
 FS2002 style reflective day textures
 2-speed N1 fan rotation.
 Animated primary and secondary control surfaces.
 (New flap animation! High speed/Low speed ailerons!)
 Animated pitch stabilator trim.
 Animated landing gear with all new working door details.
 3D landing gear wheel wells.
 Rolling wheels during ground taxi.
 Nose wheel steering.
 Retractable outboard landing lights

Planecrazy Rating


Additional Info

 Sounds by Aaron Swindle at the HJG website

 Marco Balzarotti, Michael Verlin, Steve Weiher produced a
 DC-8 panel, again on the HJG website.

Copyright SkyStef. Ostend September 1986.
Copyright SkyStef. Ostend September 1986. Click photo for full size.