Douglas DC-8

The Douglas DC-8 was - just like the Boeing 707 - originally conceived in response to a requirement from the US Air Force for a jet aircraft capable refuelling fast fighters and bombers. Having lost the contract to Boeing, Douglas immediately transformed the design to a jet transport.

The DC-8 has a conventional configuration with low mounted, swept wings, horizontal stabilisers attached to the rear fuselage and four jet engines in pods under the wings. There are two distinctive features on the DC-8, the single eyebrow cockpit windows and above all the air intakes at the side of the nose, for the cabin pressurisation.

Looking at the nose is the best way to recognise the DC-8. Apart from the eyebrow windows the small air intakes at the side of the nose are very typical.

The tail is nothing special, but nevertheless a way to distinguish it from the Boeing 707 variants due to the lack of forward pointing antenna. (photo: Rolf Wallner/WikiMedia)

Different versions

How to recognise the different versions of the Douglas DC-8 will be added later.

Confusion possible with

Convair 880

convair 880

The Convair 880 and 990 are most easily confused with the DC-8. However, a look at the nose is enough to keep them apart, as the Convair aircraft have no eyebrow cockpit windows and no air intakes in the nose.

Boeing 707


The Boeing 707 and all its variants (including the C-135 Stratotanker) also look similar. They can best be recog­nised by the forward pointing antenna on top of the vertical stabiliser and the two eyebrow cockpit windows on each side. Also they have no air intakes at the side of the nose. 

Shanghai Y-10


The Shanghai Y-10 has more resem­blance to the Boeing 707/720, as it formed the basis for the Chinese reverse engineered aircraft. The main differences with the DC-8 are in the nose shape and cockpit windows. (photo: Zhangmingda/WikiMedia)

Ilyushin Il-86

il 86

The slim engine nacelles may fool you but the Il-86 is much bigger than the DC‑8; it is a wide body, while the DC‑8 is a narrow body aircraft. Like the aircraft types described above it also lacks the distinctive features of the DC‑8's nose.