US AIR FORCE FACT FILE C-130 HERCULES
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Firewall the power levers for takeoff, and the constant-speed props go to torque-monster fine pitch and continually adjust their angle as airspeed increases or as different amounts of power are selected. From the moment a C begins to taxi until it shuts down after landing, the distinctive hum of its engines stays constant, growing and shrinking only in volume. For Air Force transport pilots, few of whom had ever seen a turboprop, much less flown one, the Hercules was an E-ticket ride. No more cranking a yoke, waiting for the turn to start and then feeding in a carefully timed correction, like conning a big sailboat.
The C-130 Hercules is the perfect airlifter
The Herk answered the helm right away. Since prop pitch adjustment did all the heavy lifting in terms of power changes, the mechanisms and controllers that commanded those props were crucial. The YC prototypes used Curtiss-Wright electric props, and they were problematic. Electrically activated constant-speed propellers offer a certain simplicity, in that they are entirely independent of the engine and require no plumbing or engine mods to allow engine oil pressure to drive the prop blades into varying degrees of pitch, but choreographing all four propellers on a YC to adjust themselves in absolute synchronicity proved impossible.
One or another prop surged or hung back a bit, giving the airplane an unpredictable and frequent yawing motion. The solution turned out to be hydraulic props driven by engine oil pressure, which worked perfectly from day one. They also helped to make the initial production CA the arrogant hot rod of the family. With its raw power, four huge AeroProducts props and light weight, the CA was overpowered enough to make its pilots outright laugh on climbout. Unfortunately, nobody could hear them. The As were loud. Their props, still three-blades, were more than 15 feet in diameter, which put the tips of the two inboard engines close to the fuselage and hammered that aluminum drum with constant pulses of air.
With four 3,hp engines—soon to be uprated to 4, apiece—the C was one of the most overpowered aircraft in the military inventory. It could literally fly on one engine. Another CA lost three engines to fuel contamination over the Pacific with a 10,pound load and 25 military passengers, who hastily donned life jackets. They made it to Clark AFB, in the Philippines, and the fourth engine died just as they turned off the active.
It was close to finishing its test schedule for the day with several high-speed passes down the Marietta runway for air speed calibration. After the first, a test engineer staggered up to the cockpit to tell pilot Leo Sullivan that he really needed to get on the ground before he got seriously airsick from the turbulence.
Sullivan, who could have told him to suck it up and barf into a bag, instead was considerate enough to bring the YC straight into the pattern and land. As the airplane rolled out, a fuel line quick-disconnect in the No. Minutes after the airplane stopped and everyone evacuated amid cascades of foam from airfield crash trucks, the left wing buckled as the main spar melted, nearly falling on Sullivan, who had just been under the wing to take a look at the damage. Had Sullivan ignored the engineer and persevered with his test schedule, everyone would have been killed and the prototype destroyed.
The C is surprisingly aerobatic. No loops or rolls, but remember this is a ton transport aircraft designed almost 60 years ago. The only team of four-engine airplanes in the world to ever perform what by FAA standards were aerobatic maneuvers, they did them in heart-stoppingly close proximity. Informally organized at first, they soon became an official Air Force demo team carrying the doctrine of C maneuverability throughout the Military Airlift Command.
The Horsemen were eventually disbanded because, rumor had it, they were beginning to steal a little of the spotlight from the Thunderbirds. The official altitude record is held by the new CJ: As was true of so many of the soldiers and Marines who flew aboard it and the crews that piloted it, the Herk came of age in Vietnam. That war was a rare and remarkable demonstration of how perfectly an aircraft could be conceived for missions that still lay in the future.
The Herk was that important. It performed exactly the airlifts and airdrops for which it had been designed, plus a few that were made up on the spot. Cs could disgorge great quantities of cargo and supplies on pallets, either by parachute from altitude or simply pulled out the back and dropped with the help of drag chutes at buzz job heights.
The C is the largest airplane ever to routinely use unprepared landing sites, meaning anything not made of concrete or asphalt. An off airport landing in a C-5 or C requires immediate cleaning, maintenance and, usually, repairs. It is never done in the real world. The Herk is also the largest and heaviest airplane ever to land and take off, unassisted — no arresting wire or catapult — from an aircraft carrier.
In the Navy briefly considered using Cs 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 USS Forrestal. The most spectacular C application in Vietnam was the AC Spectre gunship —the first not to be named Hercules. Depending on the variant, ACs have been equipped with a menu of armament that runs the gamut from 7. Some Cs also flew as bombers, both in Vietnam and during the Gulf War.
The Air Force had developed a 15,pound bomb with a 3-foot-long probe and fuze on its nose.
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The instant the probe touched the ground, the bomb delivered an immense, largely horizontal, above-ground blast that turned thick jungle into a nicely circular helicopter LZ. So the daisy-cutter ordnance had to be loaded onto a pallet— which was ideal for rolling out the big aft door of a Herk. Another C record was set in Vietnam on April 19, , the day a Vietnam Air Force Hercules carried a passenger load that would have challenged most widebody airliners: The last fixed-wing flight out of Saigon, it was literally wall to wall with fleeing Vietnamese and American dependents, civilians and children.
At the very end of the 20th century, Lockheed Martin introduced the CJ Super Hercules, which currently is the only C model in production. The AC gunship was first developed during the Vietnam War to provide close air support and other ground-attack duties. Early USAF versions were also equipped with the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system , designed to pull a person off the ground using a wire strung from a helium balloon. The Fulton system was later removed when aerial refueling of helicopters proved safer and more versatile.
Navy and USMC models, both equipped with underwing external fuel tanks. In both models, aircraft are equipped with Allison TA engines. The RC is a reconnaissance version. The Lockheed L L is a civilian variant, equivalent to a CE model without military equipment.
The L also has two stretched versions. In the s, Lockheed proposed a C variant with turbofan engines rather than turboprops, but the U. Air Force preferred the takeoff performance of the existing aircraft. The project was canceled and the C has remained in production. This test aircraft set numerous short takeoff and landing performance records and significantly expanded the database for future derivatives of the C The disengagement was a result of the inadequate design of the rudder's integrated actuator package by its manufacturer; the operator's insufficient system safety review failed to consider the consequences of the inadequate design to all operating regimes.
A factor which contributed to the accident was the flight crew's lack of engineering flight test training.
Lockheed C-130 Hercules
This model is the newest version and the only model in production. Externally similar to the classic Hercules in general appearance, the J model has new turboprop engines, six-bladed propellers, digital avionics, and other new systems. The program was beset with delays and cost overruns until project restructuring in A total of aircraft are expected to feature the AMP upgrade. In the s, Lockheed Martin and the U. The new aircraft is to carry a percent greater payload and assume the mission of mounted vertical maneuver MVM.
The greater payload and mission would enable it to carry medium-weight armored vehicles and drop them off at locations without long runways. Various options are being considered, including new or upgraded fixed-wing designs, rotorcraft, tiltrotors , or even an airship. Development could start in , and become operational by The C fleet of around planes would be replaced by only aircraft. Boeing's design used upper-surface blowing from embedded engines on the inboard wing and blown flaps for circulation control on the outboard wing.
Lockheed's design also used blown flaps outboard, but inboard used patented reversing ejector nozzles. Boeing's design completed over 2, hours of windtunnel tests in late It would be powered by four IAE V turbofans. The model had four engines, including two Williams FJ44 turbofans. An aircraft would be produced from the early s to the s. If requirements are decided for operating in contested airspace, Air Force procurement of Cs would end by the end of the decade to not have them serviceable by the s and operated when they cannot perform in that environment.
Development of the airlifter depends heavily on the Army's "tactical and operational maneuver" plans. Two different cargo planes could still be created to separately perform tactical and strategic missions, but which course to pursue is to be decided before Cs need to be retired.
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In , a U. Australia became the first non-American force to operate the CA Hercules with 12 examples being delivered from late In , a Hercules achieved and still holds the record for the largest and heaviest aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier. Naval Air Test Center, made 29 touch-and-go landings , 21 unarrested full-stop landings and 21 unassisted take-offs on Forrestal at a number of different weights. The tests were highly successful, but the idea was considered too risky for routine carrier onboard delivery COD operations.
After the move to Ubon, the mission became a four-engine FAC mission with the C crew searching for targets then calling in strike aircraft. Another little-known C mission flown by Naha-based crews was Operation Commando Scarf, which involved the delivery of chemicals onto sections of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos that were designed to produce mud and landslides in hopes of making the truck routes impassable.
After communist Simba rebels took white residents of the city of Stanleyville hostage, the U. Two missions were flown, one over Stanleyville and another over Paulis during Thanksgiving weeks. In the Indo-Pakistani War of , as a desperate measure the transport No. These improvised bombers were used to hit Indian targets such as bridges, heavy artillery positions, tank formations and troop concentrations. In October , a CBs from the rd Tactical Airlift Wing dropped a pair of M 10,pound bombs that had been developed for the massive Convair B Peacemaker bomber but had never been used.
Air Force resurrected the huge weapons as a means of clearing landing zones for helicopters and in early the rd commenced Commando Vault missions. During the late s, the U. To deploy the pallets, a Black Bat Squadron crew was trained in the U. Air Force CE on 17 May Flying for six and a half hours at low altitude in the dark, they arrived over the target and the sensor pallets were dropped by parachute near Anxi in Gansu province. After another six and a half hours of low altitude flight, they arrived back at Takhli. The sensors worked and uploaded data to a U.
The Chinese conducted two nuclear tests, on 22 September and 29 September , during the operating life of the sensor pallets. Another mission to the area was planned as Operation Golden Whip , but was called off in These two aircraft were delivered to Air America in Air Force sometime between and , they were assigned the serial numbers of Cs that had been destroyed in accidents.
Navy purchased a number of B-models equipped with skis that were designated as LCs. All reverted to standard CB cargo aircraft after their replacement in the reconnaissance role by other aircraft. The C was also used in the Entebbe raid in which Israeli commando forces carried a surprise assault to rescue passengers of an airliner hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists at Entebbe Airport , Uganda. During the Falklands War Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas of , Argentine Air Force Cs undertook dangerous re-supply night flights as blockade runners to the Argentine garrison on the Falkland Islands.
They also performed daylight maritime survey flights. The crew of seven were killed. Daisy Cutters were used to clear landing zones and to eliminate mine fields. The weight and size of the weapons make it impossible or impractical to load them on conventional bombers. Since , two successive C aircraft named Fat Albert have served as the support aircraft for the U. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. At some air shows featuring the team, Fat Albert takes part, performing flyovers. Until , it also demonstrated its rocket-assisted takeoff RATO capabilities; these ended due to dwindling supplies of rockets.
The AC also holds the record for the longest sustained flight by a C The gunship has been used in every major U. After the initial invasion, C operators as part of the Multinational force in Iraq used their Cs to support their forces in Iraq.
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In , France and Germany announced that they are to build up a joint air transport squadron at Evreux Air Base , France, comprising ten CJ aircraft. Six of these will be operated by Germany. Initial operational capability is expected for while full operational capability is scheduled for Forest Service developed the Modular Airborne FireFighting System for the C in the s, which allows regular aircraft to be temporarily converted to an airtanker for fighting wildfires. Forest Service, which then transferred them to six private companies to be converted into air tankers.
After one of these aircraft crashed due to wing separation in flight as a result of fatigue stress cracking, the USFS stopped contracting the CA for fire fighting. Some operators continue to fly the CAs for other missions. For example, Cs were used to spread chemical dispersants onto the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast in The combined system is FAA certified. The C Hercules has had a low accident rate in general. The Royal Air Force recorded an accident rate of about one aircraft loss per , flying hours over the last 40 years, placing it behind Vickers VC10s and Lockheed TriStars with no flying losses.
A total of 70 aircraft were lost by the U. Air Force and the U. By the nature of the Hercules' worldwide service, the pattern of losses provides an interesting barometer of the global hot spots over the past 50 years. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section needs additional citations for verification.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. February Learn how and when to remove this template message. For civilian versions, see Lockheed L Hercules. List of C Hercules operators. List of accidents and incidents involving the Lockheed C Hercules. William Caldwell, pilot; Lt.
Building the Herk
John Hering, co-pilot; Lt. Jon Sanders, flight engineer, loadmasters Tech. Three Generations Contribute to Hercules Legacy". Retrieved 8 July