McDonnell Douglas Corp. made $21.6 million in questionable payments to officials or employes of foreign governments between 1969 and 1978, a special review committee appointed by the corporation said today.

The aerospace giant previously had reported making payoffs totaling $18 million in 15 countries from 1969 through 1976. The committee's report covers the additional period of Jan. 1, 1977, through Dec. 15, 1978, and adds three countries where payoffs were made -- Trinidad, Tobago and Kuwait. The panel filed its report with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in U.S. District Court in Washington.

McDonnell directors said in a statement responding to the special committee's report that "company management became involved in questionable payments because of a motivation to operate the affairs of the corporation in what was perceived to be the best interests of the shareholders and employes.

"Management's participation in questionable payments was reluctant and spare and occurred with the conviction the payments comported with local practice and with U.S. law."

The directors said the procedures McDonnell Douglas "has developed to prevent illegal payments are adequate. . ."

The special review committee was appointed by McDonnell Douglas directors in 1978 as a result of a consent judgement with the SEC.