DC-8 Jetliner Series 10 to 40
For FSX, Published by Just Flight
Reviewed by Rob Scott
June 2014

As technology advances at an ever increasing rate, aircraft manufacturers adopt these new technologies to make their aircraft safer and easier to fly. However, aircraft of today are designed with the accountants in mind and not designed from the soul. A new Airbus is much the same as the previous Airbus, and the same can be said for Boeing.

Cast your mind back 40 or so years and the skies were filled with a variety of aircraft which all looked and sounded different. Granted, they were not as safe or economical as today’s aircraft, but they were great to look at and listen to (as far as I can tell from videos!). Sadly, most of these are now resigned to sitting in museums or the occasional air-show display.

In FSX we are blessed with a wide range of high fidelity Boeing and Airbus simulations, but in general, if you can fly one competently you can fly them all – just as in the real world. When a developer brings out something a little older, such as Just Flight have done with the DC-8 Jetliner, it gets my attention, as it brings back something which is missing from the skies and allows me to study how these aircraft were flown back in the day.

The Douglas DC-8

The DC-8 is a four engined, long range, narrow body, jet airliner. It was released after the Boeing 707 and they competed in similar markets until 1972 when production of the DC-8 ceased as the larger wide body aircraft started production. In total, there were seven ‘series’ of the DC-8 produced and Just Flight have based their product on the Series 10 to Series 40 (five in all). As of August 2013, there were still 22 DC-8s in service around the world. However it is not all good news. During its lifespan, the DC-8 was involved in 140 ‘incidents’ and 46 hijackings, which led to over 2,000 fatalities. Something which would not be tolerated in today’s society.

Availability and Installation

As with all Just Flight products, the installer is added to your account following purchase. You then download the installer, run it, enter your email address and password, and installation follows. Simple! Following installation, a DC-8 folder will be added to the Just Flight folder on Start Menu/Programs. Included are a performance and config tool which allow you to turn on/off certain special effects, and switch between high detail and high performance mode.

Also included is a 62 page pdf manual and a 22 page manual addendum. The manual is very detailed and covers each of the aircraft installed in the package. It includes a thorough pictorial walk around of the aircraft, detailing where each switch and dial is on the various panels.

These old aircraft can be quite daunting the first time you sit in the cockpit due to there being so many switches, levers, and dials. What do they all do? Like anything, once you learn about the aircraft it all begins to make sense.

A short tutorial flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Kansas City is also included. This is where my first grumble with the documentation is. Like most people will do, I read through the tutorial a couple of times before attempting to fly it. After starting the engines and taxing out, I found some of the buttons shown in the tutorial were missing on my aircraft. I contacted Just Flight support who advised that in an update to the DC-8, they changed the autopilot so it was exactly like the real world DC-8 and details of the changes were in the second manual. It would have been better if the original manual was changed to include some reference to the fact things had changed and the changes were in the second manual. Not really such a big problem, but it led to an evening of frustration whilst I was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. A quick read of the second manual and all became clear.

Internal Model

For me, the internal model is a bit of a mixed bag. The virtual cockpit (no 2D panel I am afraid) is of a very high standard, with the dials looking worn and used and having a nice 3D effect (see video). It is obvious a lot of hard work has gone into creating a panel which looks exactly like the real thing. Switches and levers move with a nice ‘click’ and will move in a different direction depending if you use the right or left mouse button. The virtual cockpit is probably one of the best I have come across for an historic airliner in FSX.

Captain's Seat

First Officer's Seat

Overhead Panel

Centre Console

Engineer Panel

The downside is some of the dials are very hard / almost impossible to read unless you are zoomed in super close – the altimeter being the prime culprit. I had to resort to Ctrl+Z to show the altitude at the top of the FSX window in order to gauge what my altitude was. I have other aircraft on my system where you can hover of the altimeter and you will get a pop-up / tool-tip showing your current altitude. Another way to combat this would be with the addition of pop-up 2D panels, as seems to be the case with quite a few add-ons. Whilst the internal model is very good, a little bit more thought could have made it outstanding.

External Model

The internal model is very nicely done, and the detail carries on to the external model. The model takes advantage of specular and bump mapping to give realistic light and 3D effects on the aircraft surfaces and liveries. The liveries are all of a high standard and look stunning, as I hope my screenshots show. The designers have also included the distinctive nostril intakes under the nose and the double bubble design of the fuselage, which was designed to provide greater strength at high altitude pressures.

Lovely External Model

Lovely Gear Details

Pre Flight

Mind the Gap

We expect nothing more than everything to be animated now, but I was impressed with the attention to detail with the retractable landing lights and animated main wheel bogies. These will turn to help reduce the turning circle of the aircraft and reduce the stress on the tyres and wheels during tight turns - and they really do work. My first few taxis ended up with me ploughing a few furrows in the airport grass as the DC-8 turned a lot more sharply than I was expecting.

I have seen lots of videos of old aircraft departing airports with trails of black smoke behind them, and you will get exactly that with this DC-8 when you apply full power. I do not think the designers will win any awards from the Green Party!

Livery 1

Livery 2

Livery 3

Livery 4

Livery 5

18 - Livery 6.jpg

Liveries 1

Liveries 2

There are two different sound sets included for the engines, one for the Pratt & Whitney JT3 and JT4 engines on the Series 10, 20, and 30, and one for the Rolls-Royce 'Conway' engines for the Series 40. Just sit back, crank up the volume and apply full throttle. The engine sounds are brilliant and cast you back to an era where noise abatement did not apply.

Throttle back for the cruise and the assault on your ears dies down to something a bit more reasonable as the engines hum away. The noise is back though when you start dropping the flaps for landing and need to increase the power. I can imagine with a sub woofer, the immersion factor would be superb.

Moving on to the cockpit, and the switches and levers click and clunk with a very mechanical sound. None of those fancy push buttons here. It really makes you feel like you are sitting there in the cockpit moving the switches for real. The sound set is an area which can make or break an aircraft add-on, and this one certainly makes it.

Flight Characteristics

There are not very many numbers mentioned in the manual regarding V-speeds. However, using the tutorial speeds as a reference, the aircraft performed as expected. I was under no illusion that trying to lift off before the aircraft was ready would end in tears. In the air, the DC-8 is very predictable and easy to fly, so long as you respect the speeds. Getting slow and low on approach could end in disaster, so try to stay ahead of the aircraft and it will more or less fly itself down to the runway.

Flight Dynamics

This is a big, old, and pre fly-by-wire aircraft. I was expecting it to be a bit of a handful, and it is. It feels like the DC-8 has the aerodynamic properties of a house when trying to get it into the air. The manual states you need a long runway, and you do. The engines feel very under-powered when trying to get the DC-8 moving and you really need to keep an eye on the speed once you do wrestle the aircraft into the skies.

Once you are airborne and have retracted the gear and flaps, it is as if you are flying a different aircraft. You still have to give a good heave on the flight controls to effect any movement, but the DC-8 is much more responsive – although do not expect fighter jet responsiveness.

I mentioned earlier about the auto-pilot functioning exactly like the real thing, which I cannot comment on as I have never been anywhere near a DC-8, however it is a very basic auto-pilot which still needs a large element of human intervention – a far cry from the current world of FMCs. In fact, I found it far easier to hand fly all departures and approaches and only use the auto-pilot when at cruise altitude, mainly because it seemed quicker to make the changes myself than fiddle with the auto-pilot. It did take a few flights before I was comfortable with using it and working around its various nuances, which goes to show how far auto-pilot technology has come.

You also have a part to play in the fuel management system and make sure the selection levers are in the correct position to keep the fuel supply to the engines going. Some particular attention will need to be paid to this as I flew most of the cruise portion of one leg on three engines and did not notice for quite a while. It felt a little strange that the engines seemed under powered on the ground yet can still keep this bird aloft at cruise speed with only three engines.


After overcoming the initial problems with the manual, I have become very fond of this aircraft. There are a few minor drawbacks with the VC and the manual but they will not spoil the enjoyment of flying the DC-8 too much. At the time of writing, the Just Flight DC-8 Jetliner Series 10 to 40 is available for £19.99 from the Just Flight web site and this represents superb value for money. Whilst it may not be as complex to operate as a 747 in terms of an FMC, it has a high degree of complexity and immersion arising from using systems which were used in the early days of jetliners. The maximum range of the DC-8 is stated at 6,300 nm, but I found it equally adept and enjoyable flying short 300-500 nm routes. However be prepared to have to sit at the cockpit and take part in the flight, you cannot just turn on the auto-pilot once you are off the ground and forget about everything until it is time to land. This aircraft demands you being part of the flight rather than just a passenger on it.


The Just Flight DC-8 Jetliner Series 10 to 40 is another solid product from Just Flight which displays a high quality and attention to detail and represents exceptional overall value for money.


    ● Quality and attention to detail.
    ● Excellent sounds
    ● Realistic modelling and performance.
    ● Excellent value for money.


    ● Documentation lacked reference data and could be generally improved.


    ● Product page
    ● Just Flight home
    ● User forums

  Verdict:    Gold
External Model: 9.0/10
Internal Model: 9.0/10
Sounds: 10/10
Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers): 9.0/10
Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like): 9.0/10
Doumentation: 7.0/10
Value for Money: 10/10
The Just Flight DC-8 Jetliner Series 10 to 40 is awarded an overall Mutley's Hangar score of 9.0/10, "Outstanding"
and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.