Fred Cox DC-8 Jet Collection – JAL DC-8-55

Fred Cox
DC-8 Jet Collection


1/50 Scale

Color Scheme: Delivery Colors

Registration: JA8015

Composition: A Refinished Douglas Factory Polished Aluminum Model

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

Condition: Excellent

Model History: Produced in the early 1960s by the Douglas Aircraft Model Shop / Marketing Aids. I acquired it on February 9, 2001 from my friend Steve Spatz in a JAL DC-8F-55 Livery. Though the cheat line was in relatively good shape, the white top of the fuselage was pock marked all over. My friend Frank Samba did a wonderful job in matching the paint and filling in the pock marks (small dents) so these no longer were visible at around 2-3 feet away. However, nothing could be done to eliminate them completely, short of refinishing the model completely and unfortunately I did not have any JAL decals. On April 19, 2001 I picked it up from Frank in Germany and hand carried it back home to San Francisco. I’m very grateful to Frank for restoring this model as much as possibly could be done!

Model History Update: In September 2003 I was fortunate to find a set of JAL DC-8-50 decals made by Douglas and traded some decals I had for them. I had this model completely stripped and polished and then gave it to my friend Jim Powroznik who completely refinished it for me. I received it back from Jim on September 13, 2004 and Once again Jim did a beautiful job of refinishing my model! It was a hard call as to whether to completely refinish this model (once the opportunity arose). It would have been great to have kept the original cheat line but the dents in the top of the fuselage really "stood out" upon close inspection & couldn’t be fixed without refinishing the whole plane. Also, the white paint had yellowed quite a bit over the years. Thus, when the decals became available to refinish it I chose to have it done.

Japan Air Lines’s DC-8 History: Japan Air Lines (JAL) was created by the Japanese Government back in 1951 in an effort to assist their country back to prosperity after World War II. Initially JAL flew only between cities within Japan using Martin 202s which were leased from Northwest Orient Airlines (as well as the crew’s to fly them). However, within a year JAL had their own aircraft and flight crews and began a period of steady growth, first within Southeast Asia, then to the USA (San Francisco) in 1954 and later to more and more destinations around the world. On July 16, 1960 Japan Air Lines entered the jet age with the delivery of their first Factory Delivered DC-8. During the 1960s the DC-8 became the "backbone" of JAL’s fleet and the airline went on to Acquire a total of 41 Factory Delivered DC-8s in 9 Different Versions. In addition, JAL bought and leased 15 additional DC-8s in the used aircraft market. Fourteen of these were DC-8-61s from Eastern Airlines. Also, as a point of interest, Japan Air Lines took delivery of 7 of the last 8 DC-8s to be built in late 1971 and early 1972. The very last DC-8 was delivered to Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS). Click Here to See JAL’s DC-8 Fleet Information. Long after JAL introduced wide body Boeing 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 service in the early 1970s, Japan Air Lines continued to rely on their DC-8 fleet, both for their own operations and for the operation of their sister airline Japan Asia Airways (which was created to serve the Taiwan market). In fact, JAL didn’t retire it’s last DC-8 until 1988 – 28 years after it’s first DC-8 was delivered.

* Explanation of the "L" in DC-8-55L: When Douglas made the DC-8F-54, DC-8F-55 & DC-8-55 models they were able to push the aft bulkhead further back into the tail and thus increase the cargo and/or passenger capacity. The Passenger Versions of the DC-8-55 (and two DC-8-53s) were made in two variants to accommodate airline requests. The first variant left the aft bulkhead location & interior the same as in earlier DC-8 variants and was designated by Douglas as the ‘L’ for "less aft bulkhead." This variant was ordered by Garuda, Japan Air Lines & KLM. The second variant included the relocation of the aft bulkhead further back & thus increased the interior size which accommodated up to 189 passengers (up from 179). This variant was designated by Douglas as the ‘AB’ for "aft bulkhead" (extension) and was ordered by SAS (DC-8-55) & VIASA (DC-8-53). If you would like to see a Complete List of Technical Information for All DC-8 Variants Please Click on the ‘DC-8 Technical Information’ Link on my Home Page.

An Interesting Story About One Of JAL DC-8’s: On May 27, 1968 a DC-8-62, registered JA8032, was delivered to JAL & named ‘Shiga.’ Unfortunately, after less than six months of service, this aircraft landed in San Francisco Bay, approximately 2 miles (3Kms) short of the runway at San Francisco International Airport. Fortunately, where the aircraft "touched down" the water was shallow (approximately 9 feet deep) and once the landing gear settled into the mud of the bay the water level was just at the bottom of the passenger door sills. All passengers were safely evacuated & there were no injuries – except for a nearly new DC-8-62. It was another stroke of luck that United Air Lines (the largest DC-8 operator in the world) had a huge maintenance base located at San Francisco Airport and could actually repair the DC-8 and return it to ‘as new’ condition. Shortly after the mishap the aircraft was hoisted out of the bay, placed on a barge and then towed over to United’s Maintenance Facility. It is a testament to United Air Lines & their Maintenance Staff’s ability, that after approximately 52,000 man hours in a four month period, DC-8-62 JA8032 again took to the air on March 26, 1969. It was returned to JAL on March 31, 1969, along with a 4 Million Dollar Repair Bill. JAL renamed the aircraft from ‘Shiga’ to ‘Hidaka’ and JA8032 went back into passenger service and continued to fly for JAL for 14 more years. In fact, this aircraft is still flying today for Airborne Express as N808AX, over 30 years since the "crash." Now that’s a testament to how well built (and could be rebuilt) the Douglas DC-8 is!

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

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