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

Fred Cox
DC-8 Jet Collection


1/72 Scale

Color Scheme: Delivery Colors

Registration: N916R

Composition: A Refinished Douglas Factory Polished Aluminum Model

Dimensions: Length: 24.5″ (62cm), Wingspan 23.5″ (60cm)

Condition: Excellent

Model History: This Original Douglas Factory Model was painted in Air Canada colors when I originally acquired it on August 31, 1999. Unfortunately the paint and decals had were worn badly so I decided to have it refinished in ONA colors. My friends at Airborne Replicas once again did a fantastic job at refinishing it for me. I Received it on January 3, 2003.

ONA’s DC-8 History: Overseas National Airways (ONA) has had an interesting (and turbulent) history from it’s inception in 1950 to it’s final demise in 1985. Essentially ONA was 4 different airlines which were linked by 3 bankruptcies and 1 name change. From it’s beginning in June 1950 to 1964 the airline operated primarily as a Military Charter Carrier – transporting troops and their families from the USA to Europe and Korea using propeller aircraft. During this period ONA carried some freight and civilian traffic but the Military was their "bread & butter." In 1964 ONA went into voluntary bankruptcy and after new financial backing was found they began services again in 1965 – this time concentrating more on civilian freight and passenger charters to vacation destinations. During 1966 ONA entered the jet age with the arrival of two Factory Delivered DC-8F-55 Jet Traders which were convertible passenger/cargo jets. From 1968-1970 ONA expanded it’s long haul fleet with the Factory Delivery of four DC-8-63CF (convertible passenger/freighters). These long range/high capacity jetliners enabled ONA to expand their charter & air freight business from the USA to Europe, Asia & the Caribbean. Also, starting in 1967 ONA began taking delivery of Douglas DC-9s to replace their remaining propeller equipment on the short haul routes. The decade of the 1970s was a very busy & exciting one for ONA but ended sadly in 1978. First, ONA continued to expand with the acquisition of more DC-8s on the used aircraft market. These were used for their own business and also leased out to other airlines. In 1973 ONA took delivery of their first 2 wide body DC-10-30CF (convertible passenger/freighters) to be used on New York-London and West Coast USA to Hawaii routes. Sadly, both of these DC-10s were lost in accidents during a 3 month period in 1975/1976. Three replacement DC-10s were ordered & delivered as replacements but by 1978 ONA was again in dire financial trouble and forced into bankruptcy, for the second time, in October 1978. One other note of interest, during this period – around the USA’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, ONA had two of their DC-8s painted in (very colorful) Bicentennial Colors. If you would like to see either of these color schemes on my models please click on the following links: ONA DC-8-21 N1976P and ONA DC-8-32 N1776R. In 1977, a year before the second bankruptcy a group of ex-ONA employees established a new company called United Air Carriers and built it’s fleet with a small number of DC-8s & one DC-10. United Air Carriers ‘planted the seeds’ for the next version of ONA & once the ONA was in bankruptcy this enabled United Air Carriers to rename itself (what else but) Overseas National Airways. During the Early 1980s this version of ONA built up a large DC-8 fleet to lease out to other carriers and on a more limited basis operate it’s own airlines business. In addition they acquired 5 Boeing 747s to eventually replace some of the DC-8s. On December 1, 1983 , ONA changed it’s name to National Airlines after purchasing the rights from Pan American (who had merged with the original National Airlines in 1980). Operating as National Airlines, the company continued to phase some of it’s DC-8s out in favor of more Boeing 747s, which increased from 5 to 11 aircraft, and also acquired two DC-9-80s (MD-80s). Unfortunately, this is just the opposite of what National should have been doing. National was increasing capacity during a time of excess capacity in the airline business and that proved to be fatal. In December 1985 National Airlines, the final incarnation of Overseas National Airways, was forced into bankruptcy for the last time. Thus ends the saga of Overseas National Airlines & National Airlines. Many dedicated people worked very hard to make each evolution of this airline successful but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Due to the complexity of ONA’s History, their Fleet Count & Summary was, without a doubt, most complex to research and document. In fact, to accurately document this information I had to break it up into 4 time periods to match the 4 evolutions of the airline: ONA, United Air Carriers, ONA-2 & National Airlines. I’m just amazed at the number of DC-8 acquisitions, lease-ins, lease-outs and sales that ONA had in each of their evolutions! Click Here to See ONA’s DC-8 Fleet Information.

I hope the history of ONA has been written clear & understandable. Furthermore, I felt that the ONA story should be told in it’s entirety – which I have not been able to find anywhere else on the Internet. Any airline history as complicated as this will no doubt have some errors in it and thus any information received to correct any errors will be greatly appreciated!

Click Here to View a Photo of a Similar ONA Aircraft*
* I was not able to find an ONA DC-8-55 Photo in this Delivery Paint Scheme. However, the Aircraft Pictured is an ONA DC-8F-55 which much like their DC-8-55 except there is no forward cargo door and no emergency exit behind the wing.
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Photo Courtesy Of & Many Thanks To: AIRLINERS.NET and Photographer Steve Williams.

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