The Avro 626 was a Canadian-built four-engined airliner produced by Avro Canada in the late 1950s. It was a design based on the Avro Lancaster which had been used during the Second World War and intended to replace the Avro York and Tudor series of medium bombers, as well as the Avro CF-100 Canuck fighter. The Avro 626, with its large size, low wing loading, and long range, was intended to replace smaller aircraft such as the Avro Lincoln, Avro Tudor, and the Avro York, allowing the Canadian Air Force to operate the same aircraft for a longer period, thus reducing the costs of operating two fleets.

The Perfect Airlifter is the nickname that was given to the United States Air Force’s B-52 Stratofortress. The bomber is well known as the airborne workhorse of the United States Air Force, and is currently the longest serving continuous-operating bomber in the world. The aircraft was developed as a response to the United States Air Force’s need for a heavy bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The B-52 was developed as a long-range bomber and was originally planned to carry between 16 and 40 nuclear weapons. The aircraft was designed to have a range of 8,000 nautical miles.

For non-military, non-commercial flights, there are 14 major airports in the United States, each with its own unique history, backstory, and significance in US history. But which airport was the center of the US aviation industry? Which one became the hub for air travel during the 1950s and 60s? And which one has now been deemed the most important airport in history?. Read more about c130 and let us know what you think.

The C-130 Hercules, a long-serving Lockheed aircraft, has a long and illustrious career, serving in more than 60 countries in a variety of tasks.

Kelly Johnson, Lockheed’s outstanding engineer, made few errors, but he hit the nail on the head when he gave his judgment on the first C-130. “You will ruin Lockheed if you sign that letter,” Johnson stated, pointing to the cover sheet that was to accompany Lockheed’s C-130 prototype proposal to the United States Air Force. He believed the Hercules, which had all the beauty and grace of a road grader, was so unattractive that the corporation wouldn’t be able to return its significant development costs. Fortunately, the Emperor of Burbank was overruled by his supervisor, Lockheed V.P. Hall Hibbard. Johnson was believed to despise the Herk since it couldn’t shoot, drop bombs, or travel at supersonic speeds. It didn’t help matters that it was only Lockheed’s second four-engine production plane, and the first, the Constellation, was one of the most beautiful planes ever built.

Johnson was a fan of speed, elegance, and beauty. The Herk prayed to the gods of simplicity, dependability, toughness, and cost-effectiveness. Yes, the C-130 had a goat’s nose in prototype form. Yes, the C-130 was a boxcar with wings on large Tonka-toy wheels and a straight wing atop its fuselage that looked like an ironing board. For a firm that valued aesthetics, the plane was completely out of character. For the love of God, this was Lockheed, not Grumman Iron Works or Republic ThunderThud. Connies, Shooting Stars, and missile-with-a-man-in-it Starfighters are all Lockheed aircraft. Get a handle on things!

The Perfect Airlifter The prototype YC-130’s original three-bladed electronic props were replaced with hydraulic props operated by engine oil pressure, which solved the problem. (From the National Archives)

Kelly Johnson’s hatred for the C-130, on the other hand, was akin to Enzo Ferrari mocking the Chrysler Minivan. The soccer mom truck was a vehicle that had outlived its usefulness. The Herk was in the same boat. Johnson eventually confessed, “The Hercules is a good design, but there is no market for it.” We’re only going to sell roughly 100 of them.” As of this writing, more than 2,400 C-130s have been sold worldwide, with seven basic types and a total of 70 variants.

While the Air Force of the 1950s produced fierce jet fighters and mega-engine strategic bombers, the transport, or freight plane, which subsequently became known as the airlifter, was the forgotten orphan of the fleet. Supplies and men were still being hauled in Ernie Gann–era Douglas C-47s, C-54s, and some remaining Curtiss C-46s when America went to war in Korea with Johnson’s F-80s and subsequently swept-wing North American F-86s. The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was state-of-the-art for tactical missions—airborne troops dubbed it the Dollar Nineteen and hoped they’d never have to ride in one—and the bloated, double-deck Douglas C-124 Globemaster II was the strategic-airlift superplane. Despite this, they all used piston engines. Even the largest recips lacked the power to carry major loads, and because many transports were twins, they had a deadly flaw: losing an engine, especially on takeoff, made staying in the air with a laden plane a desperate game. On a hot day, even the four-engine C-124 could only gain 50 feet per minute if one of its engines failed on takeoff when laden.

The Army took six weeks to transport two divisions from the United States to Korea to fight the war. Airlifters from the United States lacked the necessary range and payload to transport heavy support equipment and armor.

A Pentagon group was formed to address the problem in the future, with the goal of providing the Air Force with a tactical transport with a large payload and long range. (A tactical jet is one that can fly to the front lines of a battle; strategic transports, such as the Lockheed C-5 and Boeing C-17 of today, handle intercontinental missions but are too valuable to risk in combat zones.) The requirement was finally expressed in clear terms by a colonel on the committee, whose name seems to have been lost to history. He explained, “We need a medium transport that can land on unimproved ground, is extremely tough, is primarily for freight transport with troop-carrying capacity, and can carry around 30,000 pounds for 1,500 kilometers.” He had characterized the C-130 as a plane that could perform all of this and more. Much, much more.

The Air Force came up with a demand for what seemed like a superplane at the time: a 35,000-foot high-altitude cruising capability at 280 knots on one end of the spectrum, and a controllable 125 knots low and slow for airdrops and STOL capabilities on the other. Plus, the ability to transport 15 tons of freight into dirt strips, with reliability and power unmatched by any piston engine, and a range of more than 2,000 miles.

The Perfect Airlifter In Germany, a C-130 makes an LAPEs (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction) drop. (Air Force of the United States of America)

Everything about the aircraft Lockheed developed in response to this RFP was tailored to meet those requirements. The cargo space is boxcar-sized, rectangular, and unobstructed (no spar carry-throughs or sidewall bulges), and it sits belly-to-the-ground at truck-bed height, giving the C-130 full ro-ro loading capability.

The C-130’s most notable feature is a schnoz with 23 separate windowpanes, some below and others behind the flight crew, that is as multidimensional as a disco ball. It’s set up to let pilots view everything around them at an unfamiliar, unprepared landing zone when utilizing prop reverse to back up could be necessary, and there are no marshallers waving wands for instruction. The lowest windows are for use during airdrops, so the pilots can keep an eye on the drop zone even after it has gone beneath the nose.

The Herk’s vertical tail is massive and positioned high—enormous for slow-speed stability and control, high for vehicles and cargo just aft of the loading ramp to pass through unhindered. The landing gear is squat and straightforward, collapsing into fuselage pods that take up no luggage room and allow for the most basic straight-up, straight-down retraction mechanism—no fancy linkages or complicated gear-folding geometry. The tires are wide and low-pressure, making them aeronautical off-roaders. They’re positioned in tandem pairs on each side, one behind the other, so the front tire flattens and compacts soft ground while the back tire rolls smoothly through the hardened furrow it generates. The track of the gear—the distance between the wheel pairs—is also narrow enough for the C-130 to use a highway as a runway.

A powerful, loud turbine APU (auxiliary power unit) can be found inside the right-hand gear pod, and it can be fired up to provide full electrical power for ground operations, including air conditioning, which is critical for an airplane designed to not only transport cargo into a combat zone but also to ferry casualties out. More importantly, the C-130’s APU can start the engines 150 miles distant from the nearest ground power cart. Since the days of 1930s flying boats, large airplanes—transports, World War II bombers—have had modest gasoline-powered ground power units that could provide a bit of energy, but the C-130’s APU is only the second powerful turbine unit to be put in an airplane (the first was the C-124’s).

It’s easy to forget that the C-130 was the first American airplane to use turbine engines, aside from fighters and bombers. It was also the first turboprop plane built in the United States. (Tower controllers used to alert early Hercules pilots that their engines were trailing smoke and appeared to be on fire.) The T56, a powerful lightweight turboprop engine developed by General Motors’ Allison division, was a stroke of luck for Lockheed—one of the few examples of a completely new airframe design that could be matched with a new power plant that was largely ready, willing, and able.

There are two types of turboprop engines: free turbine and single shaft. A gas-generator turbine shoots its super-hot exhaust through a second turbine, which powers the prop in a free-turbine engine—the ubiquitous PT6 being the greatest example. Hot air is the only link between the two turbines.

A single-shaft turboprop, such as the T56, has a gas-generator turbine coupled to a reduction gearbox that powers the propeller via a solid shaft. The gas generator (also known as the “jet engine”) on a T56 rotates at a constant speed of little about 14,000 rpm. It is shafted to a transmission that spins its propeller at a constant speed of 1,020 rpm, which is very efficient. On a T56, advancing the “throttle”—more appropriately referred to as a power lever—has no influence on the engine or prop speed. The propeller blades’ pitch is easily changed. As the prop bites down harder on the air, more fuel is supplied to the gas generator, resulting in increased power. The constant-speed props go to torque-monster fine pitch and continually change their angle as airspeed climbs or different levels of power are selected, and the power levers are walled for takeoff. The unmistakable hum of a C-130’s engines remains continuous from the moment it starts taxiing until it shuts down after landing, only changing in volume.

Power is turned on in a C-130 when the pilot commands it—no jet engine spool-up period, not even a piston engine’s little lag. The Hercules was an E-ticket ride for Air Force transport pilots who had never seen, much less flown, a turboprop. The trash haulers, who had long been despised by fighter pilots and even bomber pilots, suddenly had an airplane that out-accelerated everything else in the Air Force and behaved like a dogfighter, thanks to novel (at the time) hydraulically boosted flight controls. Like conning a giant yacht, no more cranking a yoke, waiting for the turn to commence, and then feeding in a well timed correction. The Herk was quick to respond to the helm.

Initially, the Lockheed C-130/Allison T56 pairing didn’t seem like a natural fit. The mechanics and controllers that directed those props were critical since prop pitch adjustment handled all of the heavy lifting in terms of power adjustments. Curtiss-Wright electric props were employed on the YC-130 prototypes, and they proved problematic. Electrically activated constant-speed propellers have the advantage of being completely independent of the engine and requiring no plumbing or engine modifications to allow engine oil pressure to drive the propeller blades into varying degrees of pitch, but choreographing all four propellers on a YC-130 to adjust in perfect synchrony proved impossible. One or more props surged or hung back a little, causing the plane to yaw in an unpredictable and frequent manner.

Hydraulic props operated by engine oil pressure proved to be the best choice, and they worked flawlessly from the start. They also contributed to the C-130A’s original manufacturing status as the family’s haughty hot rod. C-130 pilots would subsequently say, comparing the rough-as-cob C-130A to the long-range, more sophisticated C-130E, that “the A is for go, the E is for show.” The C-130A was overpowering enough on climbout to make its pilots laugh out loud, thanks to its raw power, four massive AeroProducts props, and light weight.

Regrettably, no one could hear them. The A’s screamed. Their props, which were still three-blades, had a diameter of more than 15 feet, putting the tips of the two inboard engines close to the fuselage and hammering that aluminum drum with constant air pulses. The C-130B, the next model, switched to four-blade props with a diameter of 12 feet, which pushed the tips away from the Herk’s hull. The tips were traveling more slowly since the shorter blades were still rotating at the engine’s set 1,020 propshaft rpm, which made them quieter.

With four 3,750-hp engines—soon to be upgraded to 4,050 each—the C-130 was one of the military’s most powerful aircraft. It could literally take off and land with just one engine. A C-130A lost three engines in a rainstorm over the Smoky Mountains after hail pounded shut their oil-cooler doors early in the plane’s service, but the Herk made it to Pope AFB in North Carolina on its solitary remaining T56. Another C-130A, carrying a 10,000-pound cargo and 25 military passengers, suffered three engine failures due to gasoline contamination over the Pacific. They arrived at Clark AFB in the Philippines, where the fourth engine died immediately as the active engine was shut off.

On an April day in 1955, the C-130 development program reached its nadir—though it could have been catastrophically worse. On that rocky afternoon in Atlanta, with spring thunderstorms, the number-two prototype was aloft. With many high-speed passes down the Marietta runway for air speed calibration, it was near to concluding its test plan for the day. After the first, a test engineer stumbled up to the cockpit to inform pilot Leo Sullivan that he needed to get off the plane as soon as possible to avoid being extremely airsick due to the turbulence. Instead of telling him to suck it up and throw up in a bag, Sullivan was kind enough to bring the YC-130 straight into the pattern and land.

A fuel line quick-disconnect in the no. 2 engine failed as the plane rolled out, allowing a spray of jet fuel to meet the hot engine and erupt in a trail of flames. The left wing broke as the main spar melted minutes after the jet came to a halt and everyone was evacuated under cascades of foam from airfield crash vehicles, nearly falling on Sullivan, who had just been beneath the wing to inspect the damage. Everyone would have been murdered and the prototype destroyed if Sullivan had dismissed the engineer and continued with his test plan.

The C-130 has a surprising amount of maneuverability. The Navy’s Blue Angels are accompanied by a Marine Corps C-130T nicknamed Fat Albert, which traditionally kicks off the display with an acrobatic dance of its own. There are no loops or rolls, but keep in mind that this is a 40-ton transport plane that was developed nearly 60 years ago. Despite this, a few of C-130s were reportedly forced into splitesses and barrel rolls to avoid SAMs and even a few MiGs during the Vietnam War.

The Perfect Airlifter Fat Albert of the Blue Angels performs a steep rocket-assisted takeoff. (Navy of the United States of America)

The Four Horsemen, a four-ship Hercules aerial display squad, was formed early in the C-130’s existence. They were the world’s only four-engine airplane team to ever accomplish what the FAA classified as aerobatic maneuvers, and they did so in heart-stoppingly close proximity. They began as an informal group, but quickly evolved into an official Air Force demonstration team, spreading the ideology of C-130 agility throughout the Military Airlift Command. The Horsemen were eventually disbanded because it was rumored that they were stealing some of the thunderbirds’ limelight.

When Center phones and says, “United 54, you have opposite-direction traffic, 12 o’clock and 2,000 feet above you, a C-130…”, airline pilots are still astonished. It’s unusual to see a straight-wing, prop-driven plane at such high altitudes, but depending on the load, some C-130s may cruise in the low 30,000s. A light-loaded C-130B soared to 43,500 feet above the Parachute Test Range in El Centro, California, in 1964, to drop a team of HALO (high altitude–low opening) jumpers. The flight would go down in history as the world record for the C-130’s weight and power plant category, but it wasn’t an official record attempt; it was simply getting the job done. The new C-130J holds the official altitude record: 36,560 feet with a maximum gross cargo load.

The Herk grew up in Vietnam, just like so many of the soldiers and Marines who flew on it and the crews that piloted it. That conflict was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how well an aircraft could be designed for duties that were yet in the future. Other military planes were “adapted” for Vietnam’s needs, some in ways their designers never intended, but the C-130 only required warpaint. The Vietnam War would have continued if the Air Force and Navy’s F-4 Phantoms had been grounded, but if the C-130s had been stopped, we would have had to give up and return home. That was the significance of the Herk. It completed all of the airlifts and airdrops for which it was built, as well as a couple that were improvised on the spot. C-130s may dump large amounts of freight and supplies on pallets via parachute from altitude or by just pulling out the back and dropping with drag chutes at buzz work heights.

Ingenious in-country load masters devised a technique in which a Herk would land, turn around on the runway after rollout, and accelerate into a gettin’-outa-Dodge takeoff. The acceleration spit them down the back ramp, and load masters rated the precision of their timing by whether the pallets landed on the runway, forklift-ready, with the same 2-inch between pallet spacing that they had while sitting in the cargo compartment.

The C-130 is the world’s largest plane to land on unprepared ground, which includes anything that isn’t composed of concrete or asphalt. Larger planes, such as the C-5 and C-17, have landed on rough strips during acceptance testing to demonstrate that they can be done in an emergency, although turbofan jet engines dislike dirt and debris. In a C-5 or C-17, an off-airport landing necessitates quick cleaning, maintenance, and, in most cases, repairs. In the actual world, this is never done.

The Perfect Airlifter A C-130, piloted by Lt. James Flatley, became the largest and heaviest aircraft to land and take off from a carrier independently in 1963. (Naval History and Heritage Command) (Naval History and Heritage Command) (Naval History and Heritage Command

The Herk is also the world’s largest and heaviest airplane to land and take off from an aircraft carrier without the use of an arresting line or a catapult. The Navy considered using C-130s to replace its twin-engine Grumman COD (carrier onboard delivery) C-1s, which had limited range and payload, so they gave carrier pilot Lieutenant James Flatley a quick four-engine checkout and had him do 29 touch-and-goes and another 21 full-stop landings and takeoffs from the USS Forrestal in 1963. The Navy eventually decided that with a C-130 taking up space on a carrier’s deck, not much else could move until the Herk departed or was tossed over the side in an emergency. The C-130’s right wingtip’s low clearance from the carrier’s island was also a little too sporty for everyday missions.

The AC-130 Spectre gunship, the first -130 not designated Hercules, was the most impressive C-130 use in Vietnam. (Spooky was the name of the AC-130U gunship employed in the 1991 Gulf War.) AC-130s have been armed with a variety of weapons, ranging from 7.62mm miniguns through 20mm and 40mm cannons to a 105mm howitzer, depending on the type.

The Perfect Airlifter Flares, a countermeasure employed in warfare against heat-seeking missiles, are jettisoned by an AC-130U. (Air Force of the United States of America)

Some C-130s also served as bombers during the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. The Air Force had created a 15,000-pound bomb with a 3-foot-long probe and fuze attached to its nose. The bomb detonated an enormous, mostly horizontal above-ground blast as soon as the probe touched down, transforming dense vegetation into a neatly round helicopter landing zone. The BLU-82 bombs were too heavy for a B-52 to carry—not because of the sheer weight, but because the concentration of weight was too much for the B-52’s weight-and-balance envelope to handle—and the bombs’ skin was too thin to support underwing shackle hangers. As a result, the daisy-cutter ordnance had to be carried onto a pallet, which was perfect for rolling out the Herk’s large aft hatch.

Another C-130 record was set in Vietnam on April 19, 1975, when a Vietnam Air Force Hercules carried 452 people plus a one-person crew in an airplane designed for 92 passengers and a five-person crew. (The desperation mission was flown solo by a VNAF C-130 instructor pilot.) It was literally wall to wall with fleeing Vietnamese and American dependents, civilians, and children on the last fixed-wing flight out of Saigon. Thirty-two of them were crammed onto the flight deck by themselves, and a second C-130 pilot couldn’t squeeze past them to reach the copilot seat.

Lockheed Martin debuted the C-130J Super Hercules at the close of the twentieth century, and it is now the only C-130 variant in production. The C-130J’s engines, a Rolls-Royce version of an Allison doublespool engine (Rolls acquired Allison in 1995), each produce 4,700 horsepower and drive lightweight, six-scimitar-blade, composite Rotol props, giving it over 4,000 horsepower more than the original C-130A. The J is significantly faster, climbs faster, flies higher, and has a longer range than any of its predecessors, having established 54 world records in those categories and more.

C-130s that have been in service for half a century are quietly being retired around the world, and C-130Js will follow suit 40 or 50 years from now. It seems unavoidable that we will then witness something unprecedented: an airplane design that has flown successfully in large numbers for the past 100 years. That is something that not even the DC-3 will be able to boast.

The C-130 has been in production for 58 years, which is a world record for any type of military aircraft. The Antonov An-2 biplane, which is employed by many air forces, has been in production for 65 years, although the Ant is essentially an unarmed civil aircraft. The Beech Bonanza has likewise been in continuous production for 65 years, however unlike the C-130 and the An-2, the contemporary Bonanza shares nothing with the 1947 prototype save its name.

It’s been claimed that the only thing that can replace a DC-3 is another DC-3, although a C-130 could also do the job just fine. The only thing that can replace a C-130 is another C-130. Despite countless attempts over the past 58 years, no airframer has been able to match the C-130’s deceptively basic attributes. Something has always been missing: pure usefulness, cost-effectiveness, unprepared-field capabilities, ease of maintenance, robustness… It’s possible that, as Willis Hawkins, the chairman of Lockheed’s Advanced Design Department, once said, “We got this one precisely right.”

 

Stephan Wilkinson, a frequent writer, recommends Joseph E. Dabney’s Herk: Hero of the Skies for further reading. Three of our favorites among the many YouTube videos featuring C-130s are a jump-seat view of a performance by the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert (search “Fat Albert cockpit”), a newsreel of the Forrestal carrier trials (search “C-130 landing on carrier”), and footage from the rocket-assisted STOL tests for Operation Credible Sport, a canceled second attempt to rescue Iranian hostages in 198.

The article first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, go to this link.

Our good friend Charles Lindbergh has been known as the “Airlifter” for over 80 years, but is now falling in the public eye because of his recent anti-nuke stance and what many consider to be his “pro-eugenics” ideas on immigration. Not one to be overlooked, the Airlift was an important part of America’s WWII efforts.. Read more about how far can a c130 fly without refueling and let us know what you think.

The C-130 is a versatile aircraft that can be used for many different purposes, such as transporting troops and cargo, dropping bombs, and even performing search and rescue missions."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Why the C-130 is such a badass plane?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" The C-130 is a military transport plane that has been in service since 1954. It was originally designed to carry troops and cargo during World War II, but it has since been modified for use as a cargo aircraft."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"Which is bigger c17 or c130?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":" c17 is bigger than c130."}}]}

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the C-130 so good?

The C-130 is a versatile aircraft that can be used for many different purposes, such as transporting troops and cargo, dropping bombs, and even performing search and rescue missions.

Why the C-130 is such a badass plane?

The C-130 is a military transport plane that has been in service since 1954. It was originally designed to carry troops and cargo during World War II, but it has since been modified for use as a cargo aircraft.

Which is bigger c17 or c130?

c17 is bigger than c130.

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