It was developed in the late 1930s as a more-capable successor to the Fokker T.IV. While the Dutch Naval Aviation Service had originally desired for its use in both the home waters and in the Dutch East Indies, the Second World War broke out as production was ramping up to meet these needs. In addition to its service in the Netherlands, both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Luftwaffe would operate small numbers of the type.
The aircraft went into production almost immediately following the type’s first flight in 1938; a total of eleven T.VIIIs entered service with the Netherlands Naval Aviation Service. Initial operations were dominated by trials and training missions, aiming to familiarise Dutch personnel with the aircraft’s operation. By September 1939, the month during which the Second World War broke out, the type was used to patrol Dutch territorial waters, intending to guard against violations of Dutch neutrality by the forces of either side. On 13 September 1939, a T.VIII was attacked by a German Dornier Do 18 flying boat; the aircraft was destroyed while attempting to land and the crew captured by the Germans; this incident led to a change in Dutch aircraft markings from the red, white, and blue roundel to an orange triangle so that Dutch aircraft would be more readily distinguishable from either their British or French counterparts
The Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) was developed to meet a requirement from the United States Army Air Service for an aircraft suitable for an attempt at the first flight around the world. The Douglas Aircraft Company responded with a modified variant of their DT torpedo bomber, the DWC.