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Douglas DC-8

92 Mouthwatering Photos of the Douglas DC-8

By the mid-1950s, the Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 had established themselves as good sellers. Douglas decided not to pursue the posibility of re-engining the DC-7 with turbo-prop engines, as this was a common theme among manufacturers back in the day. By 1955, Douglas could see that Boeing had designed and built what would likely be a successful jetliner in the form of the Dash-80 and subsequent Boeing 707. And with the De Havilland Comet being redesigned to address market demand for the latter 1950s and 1960s forecast passenger growth, it seemed an obvious decision that Douglas would also need to develop a similar sized four engine jet transport to complement the market.

As such, Douglas unveiled their plans for a competing jetliner in August, 1957, which was similar in size and shape to the Boeing 707, albeit with a 30 degree wing sweep-back, which was 5 degrees less than the 707. Pan Am ordered 20 Douglas DC-8s along with 20 Boeing 707s on October 13, 1955, and from this point on, it was official: the jet race was officially on.

Financially it was a tenuous situation for Douglas. Scrimping to allocate $25 million, Douglas was able to build the protoype Douglas DC-8, and with customer down payments in hand, was able to get their new jetliner certified. Boeing had a head start with their 707 and the Douglas DC-8 passenger deliveries started a year and half after the 707. Which was quite an accomplishment all things considered. The first Douglas DC-8-11s entered revenue service with Delta and United Airlines on September 18, 1959. And as the saying goes, "the rest is history!"

The Douglas DC-8 was a huge upgrade from the DC-6s and DC-7s it replaced. With a range of 4,300 miles, the Douglas DC-8-10 could cross the Atlantic from east to west, only if winds were cooperating. When Douglas introduced the DC-8-30, it had a range of 5,970 miles, giving the type true inter-continental capability in both directions. It was Pan American that launched Douglas DC-8-30 service in 1960.

The Douglas DC-8-40 was the same airframe as the DC-8-30, the only difference being that the JT4-11 engines were replaced with Rolls-Royce Conway engines, which gave the aircraft slightly more power and better economy than the earlier DC-8s. Sales of the DC-8-40 were only made to Canadian Pacific, Alitalia and Air Canada, thus only 32 DC-8-40s were manufactured by Douglas. The foreign engines (built by Rolls-Royce in the UK, which also powered the VC-10) were obviously not wanted by the US airlines of the day.

By the mid-1970s, fuel costs and newer wide-body types such as the L-1011 and DC-10 resulted in the front-line retirement of the first generation Douglas DC-8s. Many found second lives with charter airlines both in the US and in Europe. However, by the late 1970s, the end of the era for these historic jetliners had arrived. In the early 1980s, many were cut for scrap, but some made their way to Miami where aircraft brokers peddled them to a handful of Latin and South American cargo operators. By the mid-1980s, it is safe to conclude that the vast majority of the first generation DC-8 fleet had been retired. It is hard to say which airline was the very last operator of a first generation Douglas DC-8 (which means any DC-8 series earlier than the DC-8-50).

Presented below are 92 amazing photos of the classic Douglas DC-8 from our extensive aircraft image database. Which, by the way, are for sale in both digital and print format. If you are looking for 35mm kodachrome slides of Douglas DC-8 aircraft click here for huge selection.

WANTED: Top aviation photographers to join our team.


WANTED: Top aviation photographers to join our team.

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