The DC8 was Douglas' first jet powered airliner and the United States second behind the Boeing 707. Douglas announced the development of the DC8 in June 1955 a year after the prototype 707 took to the air. The DC8s first flight didn't occur until May 30 1958, just before the 707 entered service with Pan American. Certification was given on August 31 1959 and entered service with launch customers United and Delta on September 18 of the same year. This one year offset did eventually cost Douglas sales and the 707 out sold the DC8 in the end 2 to 1. The initial short fuselage DC8 came in five versions. The Series 10, designed for the US domestic market, was powered by Pratt and Whitney turbojets. A total of 28 were produced and delivered to Delta and United. The Series 20 was similar, but with more powerful turbojets and sales totaling 34. The Series 30 was designed for intercontinental use incorporating higher fuel capacity and a strengthened fuselage and landing gear. Sales of the DC8-30 totaled 57.
The Series 40 was the first turbofan powered airliner in the world. Powered by Rolls Royce Conway turbofans, the DC8-40 produced better efficiency, less noise and less smoke. However, the Series 40 sold poorly due to US airlines reluctance on purchasing a foreign product and the Pratt and Whitney turbofan engine was due out within a year. Total sales for the DC8-40 reached 32 with the only customers being Trans Canada Air Lines (later Air Canada), Alitalia and Canadian Pacific Airlines. The Series 50, the last version of the baby DC8s, was powered by Pratt and Whitney turbofans with sales totaling 88.
Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPAL), the predecessor to CP Air, took delivery of its first DC8-43 on February 22 1961 followed by three more examples in April, May and November of the same year.
Interesting to note, CF-CPG the forth DC8-43 delivered to CPAL, was the first commercial aircraft to exceed the speed of sound when it was being tested by Douglas prior to its delivery to CPAL on August 21 1961. During the test flight to confirm performance data on the new 4 percent leading edge, the DC-8-43 flew faster than the speed of sound. It occurred during a shallow dive over the Askania tracking range at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and was the first time a commercial jet airliner ever exceeded Mach 1.0.This feat was not repeated until a Russian Tu-144 exceeded Mach 1.0 on June 5, 1969, followed by the prototype Anglo-French Concorde on October 1, 1969. The 130th DC-8 to be built, destined to become CF-CPG of Canadian Pacific Air Lines, bore the Douglas test registration N9604Z at the time. The 52,090-foot altitude was also a record for commercial jet airliners at the time. This historic flight remains the only supersonic flight achieved by an airliner other than Concorde and the Tu-144. To commemorate the event, a small plaque was affixed to a bulkhead in CF-CPG. Sadly, after nearly 19 years of service with CPA, this historic aircraft was sold for scrap on March 17, 1980, having accumulated some 70,567 hours during 24,268 flights.
Two additional DC8-43s were acquired by CPAL, one in May 1963 and the second in October 1965. The second example CF-CPK was written off while attempting to land at Tokyo Haneda Airport in bad weather on March 4 1966. The DC8-43s were utilized on CP Air's international and transcontinental routes up until the end of 1981 by which time all had been sold off.The Series 50 was the most popular of the short fuselage DC8s. With more powerful Pratt and Whitney engines and a redesigned wing, the 50 Series produced less drag than earlier versions of the DC8 and thus greater range. In an all economy layout the aircraft could seat up to 179 passengers. Douglas produced another variant the DC8-53AB, which stood for 'aft bulkhead extension', increasing the maximum seating capacity to 189. The first DC8-53 was delivered to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on April 3 1961. It remained in commercial service with various operators until it was dismantled in 1985.
Canadian Pacfic Airlines (CPAL), the predecessor to CP Air, took delivery of its only DC8-53 on May 31 1966. CP Air used the aircraft on its international and transcontinental routes until June 1982 when it was sold.
The DC8-55 was certified by the FAA on June 19 1964. Similar in most respects to the Series 53 and 54 except having a modified cabin layout and a strengthened landing gear. As with the Series 54, a DC8-55JT (Jet Trader) and 55CF (Combination Passenger/Freighter) version were offered. The 55JT could carry up to 189 passengers or 13 pallets of cargo where as the 55CF had a maximum seating capacity of 63 and 8 pallets of cargo. Unlike the Series 54, a strictly all freighter version was not offered.Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPAL), the predecessor to CP Air, took delivery of its sole DC8-55JT on November 17 1967. CP Air used the aircraft on its international and transcontinental routes until it was sold in early 1978.
In April of 1965 Douglas announced they were beginning design on three stretched versions of the DC8 known as the Super Sixty Series. The first was the DC8-61 which was designed as a high capacity airliner for domestic operations. The DC8-61 differed from the 50 Series in having two fuselage plugs which increased the length by 36ft 8in and increasing the passenger capacity to 259. First flight of the 61 Series occurred on March 14 1966 with certification granted in September of the same year.
The DC8-62 was designed for long range flights and incorporated a modest fuselage stretch of 6ft 8in compared with the 50 Series. Other changes included revised engine nacelles and pylons, greater wing span which reduced drag and increased fuel capacity and the option of more powerful Pratt and Whitney engines. The first DC8-62 took to the air on August 29 1966 with certification in April 1967. In addition to the standard DC8-62 other variants built included the 62H ( Heavy or Increased Gross Weight), 62CF (Combination Passenger and/or Freighter) and 62AF (All Freighter). All passenger versions had a capacity of up to 189 with the all freighter carrying 14 cargo pallets.
The final stretched version was the DC8-63. It combined the fuselage of the DC8-61 with the wings of the DC8-62. First flight for the 63 Series occurred on April 10 1967 with certification in late June of the same year. Along with the basic DC8-63 other versions included the 63CF (Combination Passenger and/or Freighter), 63AF (All Freighter) and the 63PF which was a passenger version with stronger freighter specifications at the request of Eastern Air Lines. The last DC8-63 was delivered in 1972 to SAS ending the production of the Super Sixty Series. In total 262 DC8-61, 62 and 63s were built.
CP Air took delivery of its first two DC8-63s in January of 1968. Two more followed in February and June of the same year with the fifth and final example arriving in September 1972. CP Air used these aircraft mainly on there European and Pacific routes until they were sold off.
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