Fred Cox DC-8 Jet Collection – Airlift DC-8F-54

Fred Cox
DC-8 Jet Collection


1/50 Scale

Color Scheme: Final Colors

Registration: N109RD

Composition: A Douglas Factory Style Polished Aluminum Model made by Gary Field

Dimensions: Length: 35.5" (91cm), Wingspan 34" (86cm)

Condition: Mint

Model History: The blank for this model was made for me by my friend Gary Field using a pattern from an Original Douglas Factory DC-8-50 blank. In early 2003 I sent it to my friend Don Stevens at Airborne Replicas for finishing in the Philippines & received it back on May 13, 2004. Once Again They Did A Terrific Job of Hand Painting The Airborne Scheme – Many Thanks To Don & The Staff At Airborne!

Airlift International’s DC-8 History: Airlift International’s origins date back to 1946 when John Paul Riddle started operations of his own airline named Riddle Airlines. Riddle operated as a passenger charter, military troop transport & air freight carrier throughout the 1950s and into the early 1960s using ex-military World War II surplus propeller aircraft which had been converted for civilian use. On September 20, 1963 Riddle entered the Jet Age with the delivery of their first of two DC-8F-54 aircraft, which could be easily be converted from freight to passenger use or vise versa. Click Here To See a Riddle DC-8F-54 Model & Further History on Riddle Airlines. Prior to Riddle taking delivery of their second DC-8F-54 aircraft, planned for June 1964, Riddle Airlines was officially renamed Airlift International Incorporated. In 1966 Airlift International acquired Slick Airways, a competing freight carrier, and integrated Slick’s prop liner fleet and routes into Airlift’s. In 1967 Airlift added 3 new aircraft types to it’s fleet, two of which were jets, the Boeing 727-100QC (Quick Change) & Boeing 707-320C (Cargo), plus the Lockheed L-382 Hercules Turboprop. Airlift went on to operate 4 727s and 4 707s. However, the 707s stayed in the fleet for only 3 years or less and were all disposed of by 1971. On September 25, 1968 Airlift took delivery of it’s first of 4 Factory Delivered DC-8-63CF (Convertible Freighters). The remaining 3 DC-8-63CFs were delivered in 1969 and 1970. Airlift had originally ordered 7 DC-8-63CFs but the last 3 were cancelled due to the carrier’s financial problems and these 3 cancelled DC-8-63CFs went to World Airways instead. From 1968 to 1981 the Douglas DC-8-63CF was the backbone of Airlift’s long haul fleet. The aircraft was well suited for Military Airlift Command charters for troupe movements around the world and also for the expanding air cargo business. During the 1970s Airlift acquired 6 DC-8-33 aircraft which were converted to freighters and two additional DC-8F-54 aircraft to handle their growing scheduled freight services as well as passenger and freight charters which were increasingly popular to South American destinations. Despite all of this growth during the 1970s, by 1981 Airlift International was forced into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to overwhelming financial difficulties. It is hard to say if these financial troubles were caused by the advent of deregulation in the U.S. Airline Industry in 1978 or by mismanagement of the company. Following the reorganization under Chapter 11, Airlift was able to restart services again in 1982, this time using a fleet of 2 DC-8F-54s & 1 DC-8-63CF – all which were leased. Airlift again expanded their fleet in 1983/84 by adding 1 DC-8-51, 4 DC-8-61 & 1 DC-8-63 – all which were leased. Click Here to See Airlift’s DC-8 Fleet Information. Unfortunately, by the end of 1985 Airlift’s financial situation had become so bad that they had to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection again. Not willing to give up, Airlift reemerged from Bankruptcy in 1986 but this time their operational fleet was scaled down to just 1 DC-8F-54 & 1 Fairchild FH-227 PropJet. Airlift then sold two DC-8s that they had in storage which enabled them to acquire 5 additional Fairchild F-27 PropJets in 1988. Sadly, even with this vastly scaled down fleet and operation, Airlift still could not make money and in June 1991 Airlift International was liquidated for good. It is sad to see such a vibrant airline in the 1960s & 1970s slowly deteriorate to a small and yet, still unprofitable carrier which met it’s final demise in 1991.

Click Here to View a Photo of the Actual Aircraft
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Photo Courtesy Of & Many Thanks To: AIRLINERS.NET and Photographer Eduard Mamet.

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