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


DC-8 Jet Collection



1/50 Scale

Color Scheme:
Final Colors


A Douglas Factory Style Polished
Aluminum Model made by Gary Field

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


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
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!

International’s DC-8 History:
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.
Here to See Airlift’s DC-8 Fleet Information.
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.

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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