DC-10 50TH ANNIVERSARY: Firefighting ’10s

Even though the DC-10 last carried commercial passengers in 2014, a number of modified examples serve on able to blanket a fire with ten times the load of a small tanker, as Tom Kaminski explains.

The DC-10 VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) can drop a load of 9,400 US gal (35,583 lit) of water or fire retardant in four seconds.
CPL David Gibbs/© Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

Operated by the 10 Tanker Air Carrier company from its base at Albuquerque International Sunport in New Mexico, four DC-10s are classified as Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs), meaning they have a liquid capacity of more than 8,000 US gal (30,283 lit). In fact, the aircraft carry up to 9,400 US gal (35,583 lit) of water or Phos-Chek fire retardant in a series of three exterior belly-mounted tanks that when emptied can cover an area around 300ft (91m) wide and a mile (1.6km) long.

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