The gracious DC-8 made its first flight. on this day in 1958.
The first DC-8, N8008D taking off
After the Douglas Aircraft Company lost the competition for a US AirForce tanker aircraft, it announced in July 1955 it would develop a civil jetliner. Orders from (amongst many others) Pan Am pushed the project forward. This resulted in the rollout of the DC-8 on the 9th of April 1958 and the first flight on this day in aviation history.
In August 1958 certification by the FAA was completed, resulting in the first commercial flight of a DC-8 on the 18th of September 1958.
The initial DC-8-10 was powered by 4 P&W JT3C Turbo Jets and had an MTOW of 273.000 lbs (124 ton). The DC-8-20 was powered by 4 P&W JT4 Turbo Jets with a slightly higher MTOW of 276.000 lbs(125 ton)
Longer range models had a larger fuel capacity and were powered by P&W JT4A engines (the DC-8-30) or Rolls-Royce Conway turbofans (DC-8-40)
The DC-8-50 with an MTOW of 325.000 lb (147 ton) was powered by the P&W JT3D.
DC-8-53 SARIGuE (Electronic Intelligence and Warfare) at LBG
another version was announced in April 1965, The DC-8-61, with a 36 feet (11 meters) fuselage stretch first flew on the 14th of March 1966. A long-range version of the -61 followed in April 1967, the DC-8-62. With another 7 ft fuselage stretch, it would be the longest model. It could carry up to 189 passengers over 5200 miles (a couple of hundred kilometres shy of 10.000 km).
With a new (enlarged) wing and the long fuselage the DC-8-63 (MTOW 355.000 lb (161 ton), was the final production model in the DC-8 family
A total of 556 DC-8's would be build between 1958 and 1972 when production was stopped,
The final model would be the -70 series, these were aircraft from the -60 series were equipped with CFM56-2 engines and some other (minor) modifications, about 110 aircraft underwent this conversion. According to internet sources, at the time of writing this blog, 4 DC-8's remain in service worldwide.
For the number crunchers, a nice overview of the differences between the different models is provided by Wikipedia.