Convair 880


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The Convair 880 was produced as a faster, smaller jet airliner in competition with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. Only 65 Cv-880s were manufactured from 1959 to 1962. TWA and Delta Airlines were the primary U.S. customers for the Cv-880.

First Convair 880, N801TW First Convair 880, N801TW. The nose of this airplane is in a museum in Atlanta, Georgia. It is painted in the colors of Delta Airlines. Convair photograph.

  Convair 880 Boeing 707-120 Douglas DC-8
Wing Span 120 ft. 130 ft. 10 in. 142 ft. 5 in.
Length 129 ft. 4 in. 144 ft. 6 in. 150 ft. 6 in.
Passengers 88 - 110 110 - 189 105 - 173
Maximum Cruise Speed 615 mph 585 mph 579 mph

Former Northeast Airlines Convair 880 in storage at Marana, Arizona on January 16, 1971 Former Northeast Airlines Convair 880, N8494H in storage at Marana, Arizona on January 16, 1971. The tail of Convair 880, N8493H is visible at left. N8493H is Convair airframe number 22-00-18. It was delivered to Hughes Tool Company in May 1962 as N813TW. It was leased to Northeast Airlines and registered as N8493H in August 1963. It was returned to the Hughes Tool Company on January 24, 1968. Hughes parked it at Marana. American Jet Industries bought it in July 1974, converted it to a freighter, and sold it to the Flying Fish Company in June of 1981. Flying Fish named it el Pajaro.

Former Northeast Airlines Convair 880, N8494H in storage at Marana, Arizona on February 11, 1972 Former Northeast Airlines Convair 880, N8494H in storage at Marana, Arizona on February 11, 1972. It is Convair airframe number 22-00-34. It was delivered to Hughes Tool Company in May 1962. It was leased to Northeast Airlines on October 25, 1962. It was returned to the Hughes Tool Company on February 24, 1968. Hughes parked it at Marana. American Jet Industries bought it in July 1974. It was converted with a large cargo door before it was retired to Mojave in 1978. Charlotte Aerospace bought it in June of 1985 and sold it to Torco Oil Company in December 1993. It was scrapped at Mojave in December 1999.

TWA Convair 880 at Los Angeles on July 22, 1972 TWA Convair 880 at Los Angeles on July 22, 1972.

TWA Convair 880 at Phoenix, Arizona on September 10, 1972 TWA Convair 880 at Phoenix, Arizona on September 10, 1972. Note the Boeing C-97G Stratocruiser of the Arizona Air National Guard on the far side of the airfield.

Convair 880, N8493H Flying Fish at Santa Barbara, California on September 10, 1981 Flying Fish Convair 880, N8493H el Pajaro at Santa Barbara, California on September 10, 1981. It was withdrawn from use and parked at Mojave shortly after this picture was taken. Charlotte Aerospace bought it in 1985 and sold it to Torco Oil Company in December 1993. It was scrapped at Mojave in December 1999.

19 Convair 880s and a Convair 990 in storage at Mojave, California on December 28, 1982 19 Convair 880s and a Convair 990 in storage at Mojave, California on December 28, 1982. American Jet Industries purchased many Convair 880s in the 1970s as they were retired from airline service, including the bulk of the TWA Cv-880 fleet. They were parked in a row along the western boundary of the Mojave Airport. The second airplane from the front is Convair 990, N990AB.

3 Convair 880s and a Convair 990 in storage at Mojave, California on December 28, 1982 From front to rear: Convair 880, N819AJ; Convair 990, N990AB; Convair 880, N880AJ; and Convair 880, N810AJ in storage at Mojave, California on December 28, 1982.

Convair 880, N819AJ is Convair airframe number 22-00-36. It was delivered to Delta Airlines as N8808E in October 1960. Boeing bought it in January 1974. Orion Jet Sales bought it the following March and immediately sold it to LANICA, which registered it as AN-BLX. It was stored for a while at Miami, Florida and then purchased by Summa Corporation in November 1978. A month later it was sold to American Jet Industries and re-registered as N90450. American Jet became Gulfstream America in March 1979, at which time 22-00-36 received its current registration. It was converted to a freighter in the summer of 1979, but its career hauling cargo did not last long before it was parked at Mojave. It was scrapped at Mojave in 2000.

Convair 990, N990AB is described in more detail on the Convair 990 page.

Convair 880, N880AJ is Convair airframe number 22-00-01, the first Cv-880, which also appears at the top of this page. Convair operated it as a Cv-880 demonstrator, registered as N801TW and later N8489H before delivering it to TWA in October 1964. TWA registered as N871TTW and operated it in passenger service until December 1973, when it was stored at Kansas City, Missouri. American Jet Industries purchased it in August 1978, at which time it received its current registration. In 1990 a portion of the airframe was used as a movie prop in a production filmed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The rest of the airframe was scrapped at Mojave.

Convair 880, N810AJ is Convair airframe number 22-00-22. It was delivered to TWA, registered as N8482H in December 1960, and was immediately leased to Northeast Airlines. Northeast Airlines returned it to TWA in September 1963. TWA re-registered it as N816TW and and operated it until June 1974, when it was stored at Kansas City, Missouri. American Jet Industries purchased it in May 1978, at which time it received its current registration. It was scrapped at Mojave in 2000.

Anti-Misting Fuel Test Convair 880, N5863 at Mojave, California on May 9, 1985 General Electric Company's Anti-Misting Fuel Test Convair 880, N5863 at Mojave, California on May 9, 1985. It is Convair airframe number 22-00-48M. Initially registered as N8490H by Convair, it was delivered to Japan Air Lines in March 1963 as JA8027. Boeing bought it and registered it as N5863. It was sold to Aero American/Falair which leased it to Air Viking for a few months in 1973 registered as TF-AVB. Glenn W. Turner Enterprises bought it in November 1973 and sold it to Williams Aircraft sales in July 1974. Rowandrill Incorporated bought it in December 1974 and re-registered it as N58RD in February 1975 and then as N5863 in September 1979. The Federal Aviation Administration acquired it in August 1986 and, it was destroyed in a test of AMK anti-misting kerosene fuel additive in October 1986.

Anti-Misting Fuel Test Convair 880, N5863 at Mojave, California on May 9, 1985 Anti-Misting Fuel Test Convair 880, N5863 at Mojave, California on May 9, 1985.

Convair 880, N375 at Mojave, California on March 4, 1988 Convair 880 with the fictitious registration N375 in the colors of Pan West at Mojave, California on March 4, 1988. It was used as a prop for the Amazing Stories television program. It was originally delivered to TWA as N825TW in January 1961. American Jet bought it in May 1978 and registered it as N814AJ. The camouflaged DC-8 was used as a prop in the movie Hot Shots.

Convair UC-880, 161572 on approach to NAS Pt. Mugu, CAlifornia on January 13, 1989 Convair UC-880, 161572 on approach to NAS Pt. Mugu, California on January 13, 1989. It is Convair airframe number 22-7-3-55. It was delivered to the Federal Aviation Administration in August 1961 registered as N112. It was used to train FAA examiners and Flight Standards pilots in the operations of typical jet air transport aircraft. The FAA re-registered it as N42 in 1974. Flight Systems bought it in 1980 and registered it as N84790. After modification as an in-flight tanker for the United States Navy, it was designated UC-880 and given BuNo 161572. The UC-880 and three Douglas KA-3B Skywarrior tankers were utilized for McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 test support at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the early 1980s. The UC-880 refueled the KA-3B tankers which then refueled F-4J chase planes and F/A-18 Hornet prototypes. The UC-880 was destroyed in a cargo hold explosion test at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in 1995.

Convair UC-880, 161572 on approach to NAS Pt. Mugu, CAlifornia on January 13, 1989 Convair UC-880, 161572

Convair UC-880, 161572 on approach to NAS Pt. Mugu, CAlifornia on January 13, 1989 Convair UC-880, 161572

Convair Cv-880, N815AJ at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001 Convair Cv-880, N815AJ formerly of TWA is the last intact 880 at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001. Its Convair construction number is 22-00-35. It was delivered to TWA as N828TW in 1961 and retired in 1974. The vehicle directly in front of the Cv-880 is used to tear apart old airliners.

Convair Cv-880, N815AJ at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001 Convair Cv-880, N815AJ at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001.

Convair Cv-880, N812AJ at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001 Convair Cv-880, N812AJ is being restored by Team Convair 880 at the Mojave Airport. It is seen here on September 10, 2001. Its Convair construction number is 22-00-23. It was delivered to TWA as N817TW in 1960 and immediately leased to Northeast Airlines. Warner Brothers bought it in 1990. Its left wing tip was removed during filming of the movie The Rookie, which featured Clint Eastwood and Charlie Sheen. Replacement parts have been piled next to the airplane.

You can buy The Rookie on VHS from Amazon.com

Convair Cv-880, N812AJ at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001 Convair Cv-880, N812AJ at the Mojave Airport on September 10, 2001.

Read about the affort to restore a Convair 880 to flying condition at ConvairJet.com.

The 58th Convair Cv-880 at East London, South Africa The 58th Convair 880 is now serving as a restaurant at East London, South Africa. The wing provides shelter for outdoor seating. These photos were provided by Martin Thursby of East London

It was first delivered to Japan Air Lines in July 1961 and registered JA8022.   Cathay Pacific Airways bought it in July 1970 and registered it as VR-HGF.  Compania Iter-Americana Export Import bought it in September 1975 and registered it as N88CH.  Jet Aviation in Basel, Switzerland bought it in February 1976 and transferred it to Hirschmann Corporation in the USA.  At that time the airline interior was converted to an executive transport with plush carpets, a shower, some heavy cabinetry with heavy dishes inside, a King Size bed, some very nice large seats, and an airborne tele-fax machine.  D-Flag Leasing bought it in December 1977.  Orchester Incorporated bought it in May 1978.  Sentinel Jets Inc. bought it in March 1979.  C C Petit bought it in October 1981. As of July 1983 it was being held at Islip, New York for unpaid fuel and parking fees.  It had been abandonded by the rock group Jefferson Starship when they were not paid for performing a concert in Long Island.  Ciskei International Airways of South Africa attempted to buy it in August 1987 for the purpose of using it as the luxurious personal transport of the head of the Ciskei Government, but they ran out of money.

Martin Thursby adds:

The Ciskei Government was one of the "Independent homelands" set up by the old SA Government during the 1980's for the placement of black and coloured citizens.  The Ciskei government had it's own parliament (Bisho), army, police force passports boarder posts etc.   East London and King Williams Town were in SA terrority whilst Bisho was in the Ciskei.  The Ciskei government was ruled by a Army General, who like any other military leader enjoyed expensive toys.   To give the Ciskei an international feel, they built a huge internationational airport near Bisho.  It was big enough for 747 jumbo's (in fact far bigger than East London airport) just in case anybody wanted to jet in from London or New York.  Although some local flights did (and occasionally still do) use the airport no international flights have ever landed there!.  Until a few years ago the airport was still fully manned just in case complete with security and passport control!.   With the 1994 elections and democratic governmentment the Ciskei was re introduced into SA and the Government abolished.

The 58th Convair Cv-880 at East London, South Africa The plush interior of the former Ciskei Convair 880 is still intact. It has been trimmed out in an African theme. One source indicates that it is now owned by Billy Nell in South Africa, but the FAA aircraft registration database identifies the owner as Ligon Air of Ligonier, Indiana in the USA because C. C. Petit was never paid for the airplane.

Convair Cv-880 at East London, South Africa Pete Bower of South Africa sent this photo of a Ciskei Air Convair 880. Has ship #58 been moved from its East London location or is this another Convair 880?

Pete reports:

This one is parked on a hill just before the turnoff to Morgan Bay, about 80km north-east of East London. It's painted pink on the port side only and is emblazoned with the words 'Eish Airways'. 'Eish' is an untranslateable South Africanism that one would utter in astonished amazement to describe a TFU, which aptly describes the history of the Ciskei airline.

The bloke who "owns" this one, whose name is Nel, was apparently a bigwig in the Ciskei Govt Finance Ministry and so would have had enough clout and chutzpah merely to drive on to the Bisho Airport apron and tow the thing away. He must be quite a character... surrounding the Convair are old railway carriages, old cars and what looks like a Beechcraft Baron; quite a collection of "junk". Apparently it caused quite a stir when he had the Convair towed from Bisho, down the N2 highway, to his farm. I think it's been in its current position for fewer than 4 years, because I last passed that way in 2006 and it wasn't there then, although the road has been upgraded and tarred in the intervening 4 years so the alignment may have changed and I may have bypassed it in 2006. But you certainly can't miss it (or the turnoff to Morgan Bay, which is 500 m further down the road). The Convair's not in great nick, though... Close inspection shows bits of the tail falling off, and tar or somesuch has been applied around the edges of the cockpit windows, presumably to keep out the rain. And being so close to the sea (abt 3km as the crow flies) corrosion is going to be a problem.

Timothy Ward has posted an examination of the Convair jet airliner production business model.

The Aviation Safety Network has a list of Convair 880 accidents in which the aircraft involved was damaged beyond repair.

Much of the information on this page is from Jet Airliner Production List by J. R. Roach and A. B. Eastwood, Published by The Aviation Hobby Shop, 1992.


Book about the Convair 880 available from

Early American Jetliners: Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair CV-880 by Ugo Vicenzi Early American Jetliners: Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair CV-880 by Ugo Vicenzi


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