Upcoming Exhibition | United Air Lines Douglas DC-8 Cutaway Model

Upcoming Exhibition | United Air Lines Douglas DC-8 Cutaway Model

International Terminal

November 2021 - June 2022

United Air Lines Douglas DC-8 Cutaway Model

Introduced in 1959, as United Air Lines’ first jet airliner, the Douglas DC-8 “Jet Mainliner” was a major advancement in airliner design over the earlier piston-powered propliners. It was larger than United’s previous airliner, the DC-7, and offered a much smoother and quieter flight. The large, long-range, pressurized jetliner was advertised by United Air Lines as an entirely new experience in air travel. Capable of flying high in the stratosphere, with cabins reminiscent of “living rooms,” they were promoted as offering one of the most comfortable, smoothest, and fastest flying experiences available. To help promote the new airliner United had Pacific Miniatures of Alhambra, California create this large-scale cutaway model of the DC-8 to highlight the new features and amenities of the airliner. Around the time of the DC-8’s introduction in 1959, the model appeared in United’s promotional movies for the jetliner, including the feature Jet Mainliner Flight 803. The model was also prominently displayed in terminals at New York International Airport (John F. Kennedy International Airport) and San Francisco International Airport. 

Created to be an easily viewable, three-dimensional presentation of the Jet Mainliner in miniature, this cutaway model contains a highly detailed cockpit and cabin interior with minute features that accurately replicate the actual aircraft. These include carpets, seats, bulkheads, curtains, murals, and tables, all in the same colors, patterns, and configurations as those designed by Raymond Loewy (1893–1986). The model is populated with flight-deck crew in the cockpit and stewardesses in the cabin dressed in Loewy-designed winter uniforms introduced in 1959. Passengers are portrayed throughout the cabin conducting various activities, including dining, knitting, and reading a newspaper. A boy is portrayed stacking blocks to emphasize the smooth and stable flight characteristics of the jetliner. This exhibition presents this unique cutaway model, and includes related historical photographs, and promotional items, along with the conservation treatment and tools used to prepare it for exhibition.