Very Large Air Tanker

Specifications: Cruise Speed: 600 mph
Gallon Capacity: 12,000
Manufacturer: McDonnell Douglas
Crew: Pilot, Co-pilot and Flight Engineer

Original Owner

Originally delivered as a civil passenger plane to National Airlines in 1975, it subsequently flew for Pan Am, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Omni International.


In 2006, the aircraft was operated on a limited evaluation contract from the State of California. In 2006, it was offered on a “call-when-needed” basis. Governor Schwarzenegger authorized a contract for exclusive use of the aircraft for the 2007-2009 fire seasons.


The DC-10 is the only wide-body jet air tanker currently in the fire service. The aircraft, operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier, is used for fighting wildfires, typically in rural settings. The turbofan-powered craft carries up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant in an exterior belly mounted tank, which can be released in eight seconds. This aircraft will not be used on all fires, and will not be used on initial attack. It is utilized in extended attack fires as it is limited in time effectiveness for reloading fire retardant as well as its need to reload and refuel at an equipped aerial firefighting base (currently Victorville and McClellan are the only bases in California serviceable for this large an aircraft). One drop for the DC-10 is equivalent to 12 drops of an S2-T or a line of retardant that is 300 feet wide by one mile in length.