The DC-8 was the first Douglas jet-powered transport. It entered service simultaneously with United Airlines and Delta Air Lines on Sept. 18, 1959. Powered by four jet turbine engines, the DC-8 was capable of speeds of more than 600 mph. In a test dive, it became the first commercial transport of any kind to break the sound barrier. Throughout its 14-year-long production run, the DC-8 went through seven major variants, for a total of 556 aircraft.
The basic domestic version, the DC-8 Series 10, had increased fuel capacity for intercontinental flights, and the Series 30 and 40 were the first to use the 17,500-pound-thrust turbojet engines.
The DC-8 Series 50 were the first DC-8s powered by new, more efficient turbofan jet engines with 18,000 pounds thrust and longer range. The Series 50 were also the first to be offered customers in the convertible passenger-freight version or the windowless all-freight version.
The DC-8 Series 60 extended the length of the fuselage. Nearly 37 feet longer than the original model, in an all-economy passenger configuration, the DC-8-61 could carry 260 people; its convertible-freighter configuration had a cargo volume of 12,535 cubic feet. The DC-8-62, for extra-long routes, had a fuselage stretched another 6 feet 8 inches and 3-foot wingtip extensions.
All design improvements of the DC-8-61 and -62 were incorporated in the DC-8-63. The -63 could fly more than 4,500 miles nonstop, carrying 259 passengers because of its extended fuselage; aerodynamic improvements to nacelles, pylons and flaps; and increased wingspan and fuel capacity. In 1995, more than 300 DC-8s remained in service, making more than 340 scheduled flights a day. Its versatility allowed it to be fitted with high-bypass turbofan engines by another company and called the Series 70.
||May 30, 1958
||142 feet 5 inches
||150 feet 6 inches
||42 feet 4 inches
||Four 13,500-pound-thrust P&W JT3C turbojets
||3 crew, 8 attendants, 117 to 259 passengers