DC-8 Jetliner Series 10 to 40 by Just Flight
A review by Gene Davis
One of the great things about Flight Simulation is that you get a chance toclimb aboard just about any aircraft both old and new and virtually see it andexperience it from the privacy of your own home computer. For some flying is away of life, a hobby and or a career but for some us we choose, for whateverreason, to experience the world of flight through Flight Simulator.
With aircraft like the DC-3, DC-6, Boeing 377, the Boeing B-17 and even theBoeing 707 they are a thing of aircrafts past and I really like that I can bootup FSX and fire up my A2A B-17 and take her for a flight and halfway experiencethat vintage age of flight that doesn't really exist anymore.
Just Flight has produced some really good aircraft over the years and wehave recently seen the addition of the DC-6 with the DC-3 before that and notto mention the British era of prop driven aircraft as well. So, it was only amatter of time before the Douglas DC-8 popped up on the radar and as it madeits first appearance on the Just Flight site it quickly made its way to myvirtual hanger.
History of the DC-8
The jet age of aviation really came into its own back in the 60's whencommercial airlines and the military made the transition to jet poweredaircraft and a new staple was ultimately born. If you look back on thedevelopment of aircraft like the DC-8 its development actually started back inthe early 50's and was just a few short years after WW2 where propelleraircraft had dominated the skies.
The DC-8 came to life as an answer to Boeing's 707, but lost on a majorcontract to the military for tanker aircraft with the 707 ultimately winningthe bid. Douglas continued production of the DC-8 and the first DC-8 rolled outof the Douglas factory in April of 1958 and first one flew in May of that sameyear. Production of the DC-8 matched that of Boeing's 707 initially and wasinitially bought up by Delta Airlines in September of 1959 and was flown bymany different airlines worldwide over the years. According to Wiki there arestill a number of these aircraft still flying as of May 2014 and most serve ascargo aircraft for 11 different carriers including NASA and AirliftInternational that is still flying 5 of these DC-8's. Overall, there were over500 of the DC-8's built and Douglas ended production in 1972 with 7 differentmodels, called series, being built over that time and each were specific indesign.
The Douglas DC-8 Series 10-40 series of aircraft were powered by 4 Pratt andWhitney JT3C /JT4-A9 turbo jet engines and could fly at a cruising altitude of35,000 feet at a speed of 588MPH. The plane could hold 124-176 passengers,depending on variant and configuration and had a max range of over 6200miles.
Of course design and specifications varied through the 10-40 series of theDC-8, being that the -10 was designed primarily for domestic and the others 20,30 and 40 varied considerably given newer upgrades and aircraft design withsignificant performance improvements throughout. The DC-80 -30 saw amajor improvement in fuel load along with a strengthened fuselage and landinggear system giving it an intercontinental role and a total of 57 DC-8 -30'swere produced during its production period. The 40 saw the biggest change asits Pratt and Whitney engines were replaced by 4 Rolls-Royce Conway 509 turbofans along with a wing extension that helped improve fuel capacity and reducedrag. This was considered a major improvement over its predecessor butultimately sold poorly because American carriers didn't like the fact that theengines were foreign made.
The DC-8 still flies today and has become a staple in commercial aviation,but I found in one video that I watched a pilot had to say this about it,flying the DC-8 is like flying a dump truck!
The Just Flight DC-8
The Just Flight DC- 8 Series 10- 40 comes packed with 4 different DC-8models that were produced between 1959- 1960 with the Series 10 being the firstand the series 40 being the last in this package. Also included are 19 realworld liveries of airlines that used the DC-8 for passenger service during thattime and each is intricately detailed and has a well used look to it thusmaking the aircraft look more of its age rather than having it rolled off theassembly line yesterday.
From the outside in you can also make out the interior cabin and some of itsfeatures, this along with the reflective textures on both the windows and thefuselage make the entire model rather breath taking when looking at it fromafar.
VARIANTS AND LIVERIES (Courtesy of Justflight.Com)
- The Series 10 was the first variant of the DC-8. It was developed for domestic service and was powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojets, each producing 13,500lbs of thrust.
- Douglas (N8008D)
- The Series 12 was the first variant of the DC-8 to enter airline service. It was developed for domestic service and was powered by four Pratt & Whitney water-injected JT3C-6 engines, each producing 13,500lb of thrust.
- Delta Air lines (N804E)
- United Airlines (N8013U)
- The Series 20 introduced the more powerful Pratt & Whitney JT4A-3 turbojets which each produced 15,800lbs of thrust. This additional thrust allowed for a gross weight increase of over 10,000lb.
- United Airlines (N8021U)
- Eastern Air Lines (N8612)
- Air Spain (EC-CAD)
- National Airlines (N6572C)
- Overseas National (N821F)
- The Series 30 was an upgraded airframe for use on intercontinental routes. This was achieved through the combination of the JT4A turbojets, a 30% increase in fuel capacity and a strengthened landing gear.
- Scandinavian Airlines (SE-DBA)
- Pan Am (N805PA)
- Swissair (HB-IDA)
- BIAS International (PH-DCA)
- African Safari (5Y-ASA)
- The Series 40 was essentially a Series 30 fitted with 17,500lb Rolls-Royce Conway turbofan engines. These engines provided greater efficiency, and a reduction in engine noise emissions and smoke. Despite these benefits the Series 40 failed to sell in great numbers due to the reluctance of US airlines to purchase an airliner fitted with engines manufactured overseas and a desire to wait for the more advanced Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan which was due to be introduced.
- Alitalia (I-DIWG)
- CP Air (CF-CPJ)
- Air Canada (CF-TJF)
- Canadian Pacific (N9604Z)
- The world’s first supersonic four-engine passenger plane
- Cubana (CU-T1210)
- Air Jamaica (6Y-JME)
Each model is intricately designed and features all of the moving parts andeye candy you would expect from an add-on of this type. I was really impressedwith the difference in design when comparing the different models and how eachof the aircraft changed over time. One of the more unique features of theearlier DC-8's was how its thrust reversers functioned and even appeared on theaircraft and this function is modeled nicely on the Just Flight DC- 8.
MODEL (Courtesy of Just Flight)
- Specular map to give realistic light effects on the aircraft surfaces.
- Bump mapping to give a more realistic 3D effect to aircraft liveries.
- Realistic wing flex on all variants.
- Custom coding ensures that the systems are faithfully reproduced in this simulation, including unique features such as spoiler ‘lock-out’ when gear is retracted.
- Animated main-gear bogies, which will rotate to reduce stress on the tires and wheels in tight turns.
- Special slats in the leading edges of the wings open ahead of the main flaps and the full slotted-flap system is faithfully reproduced in these models.
- Numerous authentic animations are included such as retractable landing lights, opening pressure valve gate in the tail, rams and operating levers for spoilers, trim-adjustable flying horizontal/elevator tail assembly.
- The landing gear is authentically modeled and animated with all the correct struts and springs and even detailed brake lines and wheel cylinders.
- The real DC-8 has a unique way of employing engine thrust reverse whilst in flight to assist with air braking. The conventional wing spoilers are not used (only as spoiler on's and only then with the gear extended).
The list is extensive and I thought it better to list the actual productinformation from Just Flight than try to rehash it all in my own words. I cantell you though that every time I go back to the DC-8 there is something newthat I discover that I had missed before. Take the lighting for instance, thelanding lights and the wing lighting is pretty cool when viewing from theexterior, especially when looking from the perspective of being out in front ofthe plane, just impressive!
The Cockpit of the DC-8
For an add-on like this you really need a convincing cockpit and Just Flightdoes deliver as the cockpit features your main three stations and a small radio/ navigators area directly behind the pilot and each station is functional towhere switches flip, knobs turn and levers work. Thus, allowing you to movethroughout the 3 man cockpit and access each of the individual stations withsome element of ease and not having to spend a great deal of time looking forthings.
With a 3 man crew you of course have the pilot and copilot, but there isalso a functional engineers panel and a small navigators / radio operatorstation directly behind the pilot and though I am not sure if this was a mannedstation or it was merely used by either the co pilot and or the engineer duringflight it is functional as well. The radio and NAV equipment pretty much staysthe same for all of the different models of the DC-8 and is realistic tonavigation of that time and era of jet aviation.
Ultimately, I was impressed with how much detail actually went into thedesign of the virtual cockpit and its workable systems as there is a lot tosee, do and learn throughout the cockpit. Take the thrust reversers forinstance, in order to deploy them you must activate the inboard and outboardinjectors to make them function correctly and simply holding down the 3 key onthe numeric keypad will not work. The switches to the injectors are located onthe bottom right of the overhead panel, when switched the reverses will deployproperly. This also goes for the landing lights as well as the ones on thewings deploy and retract and you must use the three-position switch to makethem work properly and the "L" key does little for lighting.
The cockpit is made up of analog instruments with lots of levers, knobs andswitches throughout and is also dependent on the series model you are flying.Though the designs are about the same there are some differences, take theseries 10 it does not have the injectors for the reversers so you do not seethose switches in the cockpit. You will find that many of the systems likehydraulics; fuel and electrical systems are also accessible giving you fullauthority over the entire plane and ultimately being able to manipulate how itflies and functions in the air.
Cockpit Features (courtesy of Just Flight)
- Highly functional virtual cockpit with virtually all of the hundreds of switches, knobs and levers animated and functional. Many gauges are modeled in 3D for smooth operation.
- Engineer and Navigator panels are included. The engineer's panel features functioning engine, hydraulic, electrical and fuel systems.
- Full cockpit lighting with atmospheric instrument backlighting.
- Special ‘baked’ textures have been used to present a well-used look and feel to the cockpit area and controls.
- Avionics include full autopilot functionality from the operating period with NAV and ILS approaches, VOR and ADF receivers and displays, transponders and a full communications suite.
- Many features have been added to help with ‘usability’ such as switches to hide the control yokes and co-pilot's seat for a better view of the instruments and preset angled views for the overhead panel, throttle quadrant and radios.
- Numerous warning enunciators will illuminate on fault detection and a fully functional engine fire warning and protection/extinguishing system are built into the cockpit. If you get an engine fire warning, pull the fire handle and the fire will be extinguished.
- Electrics have been authentically modeled to enable correct engine starts with ignition lock-out and over-ride functions for each engine starter.
- Special programming code has been used to re-create the complex fuel storage and delivery systems for each engine - the authenticity is such that one can follow the procedures laid down in official flight manuals for setting up the fuel panels and levers for different situations and, of course, the correct start-up of engine 3, the first engine to be started.
I was also impressed that many of the switches and knobs do make some kindof noise when accessed giving you a true to life feel when accessing some theaircraft systems. Given the price of the aircraft and the overall complexity ofthe cockpit I think it is very good and does capture, within reason, what itmust have been like to fly these old planes and the really exemplifies the workload that must have been involved in flying an aircraft like the DC-8.
The sound for the DC-8 is excellent and features some rather good start upand shut down sounds. The sounds have been created from actual recordings ofthe Douglas DC-8 and are also different based on engine type and the model ofthe DC-8 you choose to fly.
The -10, 20 and 30 all use Pratt and Whitney engines to where the -40 usesthe Roll Royce engines and the sound is considerably different when comparingthe two side by side and is totally noticeable within the simulation.
I was also impressed with the audible sounds in the cockpit as it has a verydated sound to it, warning bells are different and even the stall warning is alittle different then what we are used to. Then you take into considerationthat all of the switches and levers make some kind sound really adds on to thequality of this package.
System Performance And The DC-8
Since its release the DC-8 has had performance issues and you can findreference to said issues on the Just Flight Forums. With my system I don'tnecessarily get the frame rates that I want with the DC-8, but I am able to flythe plane and enjoy it; do I think it could be better? Yes.
My system is a custom build AMD 8350 8 Core Processor with 12GB's of Ramusing a GTX 650 Nvidia video Card with Windows 7 64 bit and with other add-onslike the PMDG 737 I get frame rates that range anywhere from 30-40 depending onwhere I fly and this is consistent with just about everything I use in FlightSimulator.
With the DC-8 I get right around 22 FPS initially and then they drop between13-18 during a flight. There is no interior cabin and the only thing I canthink that might be affecting the FPS might be the way the exhaust is modeledand displayed outside the aircraft. There was a rather significant upgrade afew months back that made some significant improvements to the model as a wholebut it still doesn't give the frame rates I would expect with an add-on likethis.
Now, I also own the Just Flight DC-6, The Comet, L1011 Tri-Star and theViscount and all of them perform exceptionally well including the Comet withframe rates into the 40's and 50's. Granted the complexity level here might begreater than that of these other aircraft but I just don't think so and I quitehonestly I think this plane should scream in FSX!
The DC-8 does come with the option of installing lesser quality liveriesthan that of the default installer but I have found that it doesn't really makethat much of a difference and to top it off when you run this batch file itonly makes the changes to certain models and the others become corrupt and areno longer viewable in FSX. I was able to find a fix for this on the Just FlightForums from another user and it does require that you edit the panelconfiguration files manually to get all of the lower res textures to show upproperly in FSX with the low-resolution textures. This can be easily done, butcould be confusing for someone who has never done it before.
Flying The DC-8 Series 10-40
Flying the DC-8 was an interesting endeavor and I thoroughly enjoyedspending time with this vintage plane. Learning the systems, and cockpit layoutwas necessary especially when it came to systems like the spoilers and thrustreversers because they work totally different then most commercial jet linersof today.
One of the statements I have heard a pilot say about the DC-8 is that it'slike flying a dump truck, I thought this was kind of funny because who hasreally ever flown a dump truck but in all hindsight I would tend to agree as Ifound the DC-8 slow and cumbersome like a dump truck and though it reacts likea jet should it just takes longer to maneuver and get it pointed in thedirection it needs to go.
The DC-8 has a totally different feeling to say that of the Captain Sim 707,to which I get around in much easier. This is not a bad thing because it's atotally different plane and it was kind of fun to see the subtle differencesbetween the two aircraft and how they operate. Even on the ground thesedifferences are noticeable, take landing for instance; the DC-8 takes tends tosink into the runway to where the 707 kisses the runway, if that makes anysense?
For me the DC-8 seemed more labor intensive to get it off the ground andonto the ground, a big part was not understanding the autopilot but it justseemed like you really had to work for it to get it where you wanted it. Flyingit was no problem, in fact it flew level at 32,500 with no autopilot for almostan hour before I realized I had inadvertently turned it off but it remainedlevel and it was only when I hit turbulence that I realized it haddisengaged.
One of the biggest problems I had was learning the autopilot and for themost part did many of my flights manually with the DC-8 and used just thealtitude and heading hold to get me where to go. I actually had no problemsgetting the plane into the air or on the ground and I was able to follow someof my favorite approaches with the DC-8 by flying it manually without theautopilot. Speed control seems to be the biggest factor especially when landingthe DC-8 as you really need to watch that airspeed because the aircraft has thetendency to speed up on the approach but if you drop your throttles it willlose speed even faster and you will find yourself stalling, you have to findthat happy medium.
There is a 40 page manual that covers cockpit layout and aircraft operationthat comes with this add-on and I strongly recommend giving it a look at somepoint before or after you go for a flight because it will explain a great dealabout the DC-8 and its operations. I would have liked to see an actual flightmanual for this one I think.
The DC-8 is a marvelous plane and anyone that enjoys the vintage era offlight that it reflects will definitely like it. Sure there are some things Iwould like to see changed and or fixed with the biggest being the performancebut for now I am enjoying the plane and Just Flight really does deserve somekudos for being the first to release this plane for FSX because it isdefinitely a welcomed addition to my hanger!
Given its $29.99 and an upcoming add-on pack for the DC-8 -50 to -70 modelsmakes this a fantastic package with a lot of functionality in the cockpit andtons of eye candy on the exterior giving the arm chair pilot a full on DC-8flying experience!