Douglas DC-8 (piston airliner)

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Role Airliner
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft
Status Project canceled
Developed from Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster

The Douglas DC-8 was an American piston-engined airliner project by Douglas Aircraft. A concept developed more than a decade before the DC-8 jetliner, the piston-engined DC-8 was to have propellers in the tail, an idea first used at Douglas by Edward F. Burton on a fighter project.[1] The airliner project was canceled after development costs made it commercially unviable.

Design and development[edit]

Based on the cancelled XB-42,[2] the program began shortly after the end of World War II. It was intended to operate on short- and medium-range routes, carrying between 40 and 48 passengers[2] in a then-novel pressurized cabin[2] (which had been pioneered by the Boeing 307 in 1938, but was still not in standard airline use).

The DC-8 was to use the same Allison V1710s as the XB-42[3] (these rated at 1,375 hp (1,025 kW)),[2] fitted below and immediately behind the cockpit.[2] They were to power contra-rotating propellers in the tail,[4] as in the XB-42, by way of driveshafts under the cabin floor[2] (an arrangement reminiscent of the P-39.) This arrangement, also proposed for the Douglas Cloudster II general aviation aircraft, reduced drag by 30% and eliminated the problems associated with controlling the aircraft with one engine out.[5][6] Cabin access would have been by airport stair through a single portside door.[7]

Despite performance predicted to significantly surpass conventional twin airliners,[2] excessive complexity and high development costs[2] (with consequent high sales price and operating costs)[2] meant that less risky types, such as Convair's 240 and Martin's 2-0-2, were preferred,[3] and the DC-8 was dropped before a prototype was built.

Specifications (estimated)[edit]

Data from DC-8 that might have been [8]

General characteristics

  • Crew: three
  • Capacity: 40-48 passengers
  • Length: 77 ft 8 in (23.67 m)
  • Wingspan: 110 ft 2 in (33.58 m)
  • Height: 26 ft 9.75 in (8.1725 m)
  • Wing area: 1,104 sq ft (102.6 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 11:1
  • Airfoil: Douglas S-17
  • Empty weight: 24,415 lb (11,074 kg)
  • Gross weight: 40,000 lb (18,144 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Allison V-1710-G4L/R liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) each (take-off power)


  • Maximum speed: 280 mph (451 km/h; 243 kn) at 20,200 ft (6,150 m)
  • Cruise speed: 237 mph (381 km/h; 206 kn) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m) - 60% power
  • Range: 2,370 mi (2,059 nmi; 3,814 km)
  • Service ceiling: 30,500 ft (9,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 940 ft/min (4.8 m/s)

See also[edit]

Related development


  1. ^ Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920 (Putnam, 1979), p. 432.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Francillon 1979, p. 714
  3. ^ a b Francillon 1979, p. 715
  4. ^ Francillon 1979, pp. 714–5 & diagram
  5. ^ Francillon, p. 432.
  6. ^ "Tail Pusher Cruises at 200mph", March 1947, Popular Mechanics article with photos of Cloudster II
  7. ^ Francillon 1979, pp. 715 & diagram
  8. ^ Morgan 1972, pp. 54–55.
  • Francillon, René J. (1979). McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920 (1979 ed.). Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-370-00050-1. - Total pages: 721
  • Morgan, Eric B. "DC-8 that might have been". Air Pictorial. Vol. 34 No. 2 no. February 1972. pp. 54–55.

External links[edit]