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
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
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.
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.
First Officer's Seat
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
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
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!
18 - Livery 6.jpg
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Realistic modelling and performance.
Excellent value for money.
Documentation lacked reference data and could be generally improved.