History Podcasts

Lockheed Introduces the YC-130 - History

Lockheed Introduces the YC-130 - History

(8/23/54) On August 23, Lockheed tested its first "Hercules" turbo prop aircraft. The Hercules is a highly agile transport craft that can carry 90 troops over 2,000 miles. Its ability to land and take off from short runways made it a favorite of airforces the world over. More than 1,900 Hercules planes have been produced, making it one of the most successful transport planes of all time.

The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft, and its civilian counterpart, the L-100, can safely be referred to as the most successful aircraft of their kind ever made. When speaking of the various missions and uses the planes have been put through, it’s almost easier to mention what they haven’t been used for over their long operational life.

The C-130 was originally developed in the early 1950’s to answer the U.S. military’s need for an aircraft that could transport large loads of equipment and personnel and be capable of operating out of short, unimproved airfields. Its first flight was in 1954, and it almost immediately became the go-to workhorse of the military. It saw extensive use in Vietnam and every theater of war since then, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It performed so well that just ten years later Lockheed Martin decided to produce a civilian version, the L-100, which first took to the skies in 1964. Sales of the aircraft were initially slower than hoped, so Lockheed redesigned the L-100 in 1967, stretching the airframe and significantly increasing the cargo capacity. They did the same in 1969 to produce the L-100-30 version, which has proved to be the most popular with the civilian market.

Both the C-130 and the L-100 have earned a sterling reputation for safety, reliability, and versatility. They have been deployed for a variety of mission, both military and civilian.


Polmar on the C-130

There should be an expression, "Build a better airplane, and people will fly it." Today the "better" airplane in the medium-range/lift category is the same airplane that has held that spot for a half century-the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules. In continuous production since 1954, the "Herc" has enjoyed the longest production run of any airplane in history with almost 60 nations currently flying the aircraft.

The C-130J production line at Marietta, Georgia, currently has a backlog of 86 airframes -- the largest in that variant's history -- and Lockheed Martin anticipates that the annual rate of production will increase significantly in the next several years as more customers-military and civilian-sign up for the aircraft. During the past few years the production line has produced about 12 airframes a year.

The production rate is planned to increase to 16 this year -- and to 27 by 2010 -- with further increases anticipated. Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and U.S. military services operate or have C-130J aircraft on order.

The C-130J has four Rolls Royce-Allison AE2100D3 turboprop engines of 4,591 shp each. The "J" model, which entered production in 1997, also provides a "glass cockpit" and digital avionics that make the aircraft easier and safer to operate in low-altitude maneuvers and introduces an all-weather airdrop capability. The new engines, with a six-blade propellers, enhance aircraft performance in terms of range, cruise altitude, rate of climb, speed, and short airfield requirements, while halving the number of maintenance man-hours required for each flight hour.

Beyond expected production of this model, Lockheed Martin engineers are looking at improved models, including the recently unveiled "wide-body" version. Now designated C-130XL by the firm, the aircraft is being proposed to the U.S. Air Force to meet an emerging requirement for a larger version of an intratheater airlifter after 2015. Boeing is already proposing the C-17B for this role, that aircraft to have higher-thrust engines, larger flaps, and a third main landing gear EADS North America wants to offer the Airbus A400M to meet the same requirement.

And, of course, Hercules also fly in many specialized roles-U.S. military forces currently fly the aircraft as gunship (AC-130), electronic attack and countermeasures (EC-130), search-and-rescue (HC-130), special operations (MC-130), tanker (KC-130), research (NC-130), and weather reconnaissance (WC-130) aircraft, as well as in the straight cargo/troop C-130 (and with skis as the LC-130) configuration. There have also been drone-launch/control, strategic communications relay, and Airborne Early Warning (AEW) configurations of the Hercules. Including sub-types, there have been more than 70 military and commercial variations of the aircraft.

To demonstrate the flexibility of the Hercules, the Navy conducted a series of landing and takeoff trials with a KC-130F aboard the aircraft carrier Forrestal (CV 59) in October-November 1963. The Hercules made 26 touch-and-go landings and 21 full-stop landings. No carrier arresting gear was employed and the aircraft rollout was as little as 270 feet. After each of the full-stop landings the KC-130F took off with deck runs as short as 330 feet. In these trials, with Lieutenant James H. Flatley III, the primary pilot, the aircraft reached a maximum of 120,000 pounds, making it the largest aircraft to ever operate from a carrier.

Today, with the world economic situation, there will be still more impetus for other nations to procure a proven aircraft design like the Hercules, which can be supported with existing capabilities. This will also be true for the U.S. military establishment.

The current U.S. Hercules order of battle consists of:

Air Force (including Air National Guard and AF Reserve)450 C-130/LC-13025 AC-13021 EC-13033 HC-13050 MC-13020 WC-130


Time period Development summary
2005 Y Combinator launches. Later it would be considered the first accelerator built on the framework we know today. The conception of the accelerator flourishes after YC launch. [1]
2005–2008 YC runs two programs, one in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one in Mountain View, California.
Since 2009 YC starts raising money from external investors and manages these funds to increase the number of startups it invests in. [2] The Cambridge program closes and YC moves all its future programs to the Silicon Valley. [3]
2014 YC graduates its first class of nonprofit organizations and starts expanding its reach to back biotechnology start-ups.
2015 YC introduces Y Combinator Research.
2017 YC cumulates investment in about 1,450 companies. [4] The combined valuation of YC companies reaches US$ 80 billion. [5] A Startup School is launched.
2018 YC reaches US$100 billion in market value for their portfolio of 1867 startups they’ve invested in.

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Indeed Lockheed, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is one of the great and quintessential defense contractors. For practical purposes it has nearly monopolized the field of military airlift for several decades.

All three of the Air Force strategic air cargo planes now in service are Lockheed products: the C-5A, the C-141 and the C-130 propellor-driven Hercules. The latter is an acknowledged classic airplane - a veteran of Congo airdrops, numerous wars, the Israeli raid on Entebbe and other encounters. More than 1,650 C-130's have been sold to 56 governments, and three aircraft a month are now being produced at the Georgia Lockheed line at Marietta, just outside Atlanta.

However, Mr. Anderson said that '⟞spite our image as an airplane company, Lockheed is much more diversified than many people seem to realize.''

The Lockheed Missile and Space Company, now centered at Sunnyvale, Calif., already accounts for about half of the parent corporation's 1981 sales of $5.1 billion and is the largest of Lockheed's 13 operating companies. It also seems likely to be the one that will grow most quickly.

Robert A. Fuhrman, president of the missile and space operation, which has produced all of the fleet ballistic missiles used by United States nuclear missile submarines, said that such nuclear-armed missiles now constitute about 40 percent of the divisions' $2.5 billion annual sales.

Another 40 percent of its business has been in military space systems, with the remaining 20 percent of sales in everything else, much of which is highly classified.

Mr. Fuhrman said that development work on the D-5, or ''Trident II'' missile, with which the new Trident class of nuclear submarines will eventully be armed, will probably be the company's biggest business in 1983.

The D-5 is to be designed with such a substantial improvement in missile accuracy over existing sea-launched missiles that many military analysts think it might achieve the accuracy needed to make production of the land-based MX missile unnecessary. In any case, it is expected to be the strongest leg of the United States nuclear triad for several decades. And because missile submarines have many launch tubes, Lockheed production orders may be substantial.

The Reagan Administration's planned emphasis on military applications of space technology and on an $18 billion, five-year plan to improve 'ɼommand, control, communications and intelligence'' systems for controlling strategic military power also seems to mesh with technological strengths of Lockheed.

Lockheed is already doing research and development work on equipment intended to spot targets for space-based lasers and to point and track those lasers. Although it may be many years before space-based laser weapons are militarily workable - if they ever are - such systems could eventually provide a method of ballistic missile defense against Soviet missiles by attacking fleets of missiles in the first few minutes after launching.

The missile and space operation is currently involved in design competitions against other defense contractors for important elements of a Milstar communications satellite that is expected to be a cornerstone of the new command and control system envisoned in the Defense Department five-year plan.

It will also be involved next year in a competition with Boeing and General Dynamics for the '➭vanced cruise missile.'' Company officials cannot discuss that highly classified project, nor many others. However, aerospace trade journals, Pentagon sources and the Washington grapevine have left no doubt that Lockheed is one of two corporations most deeply involved in so-called stealth technology aimed at using advanced shapes, materials, nonreflective surfaces and other methods to make aircraft and missiles nearly invisible to hostile radars.

Pentagon officials do not deny that Lockheed is working at technology for a Stealth fighter-reconnaisance plane while Northrup works on Stealth Bomber techniques. However, last March Lockheed also signed a memorandum of understanding with Rockwell in which the two companies are believed to have agreed to try to develop a stealth version of Rockwell's B-1B bomber, to be called the B-1C.

In some ways and to some outside analysts, Lockheed's strongest technological base now seems to be in its larger, but lesser known, operations such as missiles and space and some of its smaller operations such as shipbuilding.

After selling the last 14 Tristars sometime next year, Mr. Anderson said ''our whole capital structure will be changed'' and equity will hopefully exceed debt, something that Lockheed has not enjoyed for a long time.

However, Lockheed, which survived bad times partly because of its ability to operate with political success in Washington, is not likely to neglect that effort. Last summer's lobby battle with Boeing and others, Mr. Anderson claimed, was in ''self-defense.''

''Our main customer is really the Department of Defense,'' he said. ''I think most of our selling, and we do sell, should be done at the Department of Defense level.''

However, Lockheed has shown it is no more willing than its corporate rivals to accept without appeal or without battle decisions that might harm its interests. An official of a rival company, asking not to be identified, said, ''The Defense Department has said that the 51st airlift plane produced after the production run on the C-5B's will be a new plane. But I have a feeling that the 51st plane may be another C-5.''


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Everything about the aircraft that Lockheed came up with in answer to this request for proposal was designed to address those needs. The cargo area is boxcar-huge, rectangular and unobstructed (no spar carry-throughs or sidewall bulges) and it sits belly-to-the-ground at truck-bed height, so that the C-130 has true ro-ro capability: roll-on/roll-off loading.

The C-130’s most distinctive feature is a schnoz as multifaceted as a disco ball, with 23 individual windowpanes, some of them below and others behind the flight crew. It is configured to allow pilots to see everything around them in an unfamiliar, unprepared landing zone that might even require using prop reverse to back up, and with no marshallers waving wands for guidance. The lowest windows are for use during airdrops, so the pilots can keep the drop zone in sight even after it has passed under the nose.

The Herk’s vertical tail is enormous and mounted up high — enormous to provide slow-speed stability and control, high to leave an unobstructed area under it for trucks and cargo just aft of the loading ramp. The landing gear is squat and simple, retracting into fuselage pods that take no space from the cargo area and allow for the most basic straight-up, straight-down retraction mechanism — no fancy linkages or complex gear-folding geometry. The tires are fat and low-pressure, the aeronautical equivalent of off-roaders. They are mounted in tandem pairs, one behind the other on each side, so that the front tire flattens and compacts soft ground while its partner behind it rolls easily through the hardened rut that it creates. And the gear’s track — the distance between the wheel pairs — is narrow enough to permit the C-130 to use a highway as a runway.

Inside the right-hand gear pod is a strong, strident turbine APU (auxiliary power unit) that can be fired up to provide full electrical power for ground operation, including air conditioning, which is important for an airplane designed to not only carry cargo into a combat area but to ferry casualties out. More important, the C-130’s APU can start the engines when the nearest ground power cart is 150 miles away. Large airplanes — transports, World War II bombers — have had small gasoline-powered ground power units that could provide a bit of electricity since the days of 1930s flying boats, but the C-130’s APU is only the second powerful turbine unit to be mounted in an airplane (the C-124’s was the first).

It’s sometimes forgotten that the C-130 was the very first U.S. airplane, other than fighters and bombers, to use turbine engines. And it was the first U.S. production turboprop plane of any kind. (Early Hercules pilots got used to tower controllers telling them their engines were trailing smoke and appeared to be on fire.) The fact that the Allison division of General Motors was developing a powerful lightweight turboprop engine, the T56, was a stroke of luck for Lockheed — one of the few examples of a totally new airframe design that could be mated with a new power plant that was largely ready, willing and able.

Turboprop engines come in two basic flavors: free turbine and single shaft. In a free-turbine engine — the ubiquitous PT6 being the best example — a gas-generator turbine blows its super-hot exhaust through a second turbine, and that turbine turns the prop. The only connection between the two turbines is hot air.

A single-shaft turboprop like the T56 has a gas-generator turbine connected by a solid shaft directly to a reduction gearbox that drives the propeller. A T56’s gas generator (the “jet engine” part) spins at a constant speed — just under 14,000 rpm. It is shafted to a transmission, which spins its propeller at a constant speed, a very efficient flop-flop-flop 1,020 rpm. Advancing the “throttle” on a T56 — more accurately called a power lever — has no effect on the engine’s or prop’s speed. It simply changes the pitch of the propeller blades. As the prop takes a more aggressive bite of air, that causes more fuel to be fed to the gas generator, hence more power. 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-130 begins to taxi until it shuts down after landing, the distinctive hum of its engines stays constant, growing and shrinking only in volume.

In a C-130, power comes on the instant it’s demanded by the pilot — no jet engine spool-up time, not even a piston engine’s brief lag. For Air Force transport pilots, few of whom had ever seen a turboprop, much less flown one, the Hercules was an E-ticket ride. Long the object of every fighter pilot’s contempt and even the bomber drivers’ condescension, the trash haulers suddenly had an airplane that out-accelerated anything else in the Air Force and that handled like a dogfighter, thanks to innovative (at the time) hydraulically boosted flight controls. 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 Herk answered the helm right away.

Initially, the Lockheed C-130/Allison T56 mating wasn’t an out-of-the-box match made in heaven. 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-130 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-130 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 C-130A the arrogant hot rod of the family. “The A is for go, the E is for show,” C-130 pilots would later say, comparing the rough-as-a-cob C-130A to the long-range, more sophisticated C-130E. With its raw power, four huge AeroProducts props and light weight, the C-130A 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. The next model, the C-130B, segued to four-blade props that were 12 feet in diameter, which moved the tips away from the Herk’s hull. Since the shorter blades still revolved at the engine’s fixed 1,020 propshaft rpm, the tips were traveling more slowly, which also made them quieter.

With four 3,750-hp engines—soon to be uprated to 4,050 apiece—the C-130 was one of the most overpowered aircraft in the military inventory. It could literally fly on one engine. Early in the airplane’s career, a C-130A lost three engines in a thunderstorm over the Smoky Mountains after hail pounded shut their oil-cooler doors, but the Herk made it to Pope AFB, in North Carolina, on its sole remaining T56. Another C-130A lost three engines to fuel contamination over the Pacific with a 10,000-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.

The C-130 development program’s nadir — though it could have been tragically worse — came on an April day in 1955. The No. 2 prototype was aloft on that bumpy afternoon with spring thunderstorms in the Atlanta area. 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-130 straight into the pattern and land.

As the airplane rolled out, a fuel line quick-disconnect in the No. 2 engine let go, and a stream of jet fuel hit the hot engine and erupted in a trail of fire. 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-130 is surprisingly aerobatic. The Navy’s Blue Angels are supported by a Marine Corps C-130T fondly known as Fat Albert, which usually opens the show with its own acro routine. No loops or rolls, but remember this is a 40-ton transport aircraft designed almost 60 years ago. Even so, during the Vietnam War a number of C-130s were reportedly forced into splitesses and barrel rolls to evade SAMs and even a few MiGs.

/>Fat Albert, the C-130 Hercules assigned to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, flies over San Francisco in preparation for an air show scheduled during San Francisco Fleet Week 2011 on Oct. 6, 2011. (MC3 Andrew Johnson/Navy)

Early in the C-130’s career there was a four-ship Hercules aerial demonstration team called the Four Horsemen. 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-130 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.

Airline pilots are still surprised when Center calls and says, “United 54, you have opposite-direction traffic, 12 o’clock and 2,000 feet above you, a C-130…” Seeing a straight-wing, prop-driven airplane at substantial flight levels can be a surprise, but depending on the load, some C-130s can cruise in the low 30,000s. In 1964 a lightly loaded C-130B climbed to 43,500 feet over the Parachute Test Range at El Centro, Calif., to drop a team of HALO (high altitude–low opening) jumpers. It would to this day be the world record for the C-130’s weight and power plant category, but the flight was not an official record attempt, it was just takin’ care of business. The official altitude record is held by the new C-130J: 36,560 feet, with a max-gross cargo load.

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. Other military airplanes were “adapted” for Vietnam’s needs, some in ways their creators never intended, but all the C-130 needed was warpaint. It was said that if the Air Force’s and Navy’s F-4 Phantoms had been grounded, the Vietnam War would have continued, but if the C-130s had been grounded, we’d have had to throw up our hands and go home. 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. C-130s 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.

Inventive in-country load masters then developed a maneuver in which a Herk would land, do a 180 on the runway after rollout and accelerate into an immediate gettin’-outa-Dodge takeoff. Simultaneous release of all the cargo pallet tiedowns let the acceleration spit them out the rear ramp, and load masters judged the accuracy of their timing by whether the pallets landed on the runway, forklift-ready, with the same 2-inch between pallet spacing that they’d had while sitting in the cargo compartment.

The C-130 is the largest airplane ever to routinely use unprepared landing sites, meaning anything not made of concrete or asphalt. Certainly larger airplanes such as the C-5 and C-17 have landed on rough strips during acceptance testing to prove that it could be done if necessary, but turbofan jet engines don’t like dirt and debris. An off airport landing in a C-5 or C-17 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 1963 the Navy briefly 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 USS Forrestal. Ultimately, the Navy decided that with a C-130 taking up space on a carrier’s deck, not much else could move until the Herk either departed or, in an emergency, was pushed over the side. The minimal clearance between the C-130’s right wingtip and the carrier’s island was also a bit too sporty for routine operations.

The most spectacular C-130 application in Vietnam was the AC-130 Spectre gunship —the first -130 not to be named Hercules. (The AC-130U gunship used in the 1991 Gulf War was called Spooky.) Depending on the variant, AC-130s have been equipped with a menu of armament that runs the gamut from 7.62mm mini-guns and 20mm and 40mm cannons to a 105mm howitzer.

/>An AC-130U Gunship from the 4th Special Operations Squadron jettisons flares over an area near Hurlburt Field, Fla., Aug. 20, 2008. (Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/Air Force)

Some C-130s also flew as bombers, both in Vietnam and during the Gulf War. The Air Force had developed a 15,000-pound bomb with a 3-foot-long probe and fuze on its nose. 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. The BLU-82 bombs were too heavy to be carried by a B-52 — not because of the sheer load but because the concentration of weight couldn’t be handled by a B-52’s weight-and-balance envelope — and the bombs were too thin-skinned to support underwing shackle hangers. 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-130 record was set in Vietnam on April 19, 1975, the day a Vietnam Air Force Hercules carried a passenger load that would have challenged most widebody airliners: 452 passengers plus a crew of one, in an airplane normally configured for 92 passengers and a crew of five. (A VNAF C-130 instructor pilot flew the desperation mission solo.) The last fixed-wing flight out of Saigon, it was literally wall to wall with fleeing Vietnamese and American dependents, civilians and children. Thirty-two of them jammed onto the flight deck alone, and a second C-130 pilot aboard the flight couldn’t get through them to reach the copilot seat.

At the very end of the 20th century, Lockheed Martin introduced the C-130J Super Hercules, which currently is the only C-130 model in production. Its power plants — a Rolls-Royce version of an Allison doublespool engine (Rolls acquired Allison in 1995) — each put out 4,700 hp and drive lightweight, six-scimitar-blade, composite Rotol props, giving the C-130J almost 4,000 total hp more than the original C-130A. The J is far faster, quicker-climbing, higher-flying and longer-range than any of its predecessors, and it has set 54 world records in all of those categories and then some.

Here and there all over the world, half-century-old C-130s are quietly being retired, and someday 40 or 50 years in the future, it will happen to C-130Js as well. It is inevitable that we’ll then see something unprecedented: an airplane design that will have flown productively, in substantial numbers, for 100 years. Even the DC-3 won’t be able to make that claim.

The C-130 has been in production for 58 years, a world record for military aircraft of any kind. Perfectionists will point out that the Antonov An-2 biplane used by various air forces has been in production for 65 years, but the Ant is basically an unarmed civil design. The Beech Bonanza has also been in steady production for 65 years, but unlike the C-130 and the An-2, the current Bonanza has nothing but its name in common with the 1947 original.

It’s been said that the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3, but it could also be said that a C-130 would fill the bill very nicely. Certainly the only replacement for a C-130 is another C-130. In 58 years, no airframer has been able to replicate the seemingly simple C-130’s qualities, though many have tried. Something has always been missing: pure utility, economy of operation, price, unprepared-field capability, maintenance simplicity, ruggedness… It may be that, as the head of Lockheed’s Advanced Design Department, Willis Hawkins, once said, “We got this one exactly right.”

For further reading, frequent contributor Stephan Wilkinson recommends: Herk: Hero of the Skies, by Joseph E. Dabney. Among the many YouTube videos featuring C-130s, three of our favorites are a jump-seater’s view of a performance by the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert (search “Fat Albert cockpit”), a newsreel showing 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 the Iranian hostages in 1980 (search “Credible Sport”).


Lockheed Introduces the YC-130 - History

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F-4 LIGHTNING - 19 JUL 10
There has been a significant expansion of the pages on the F-4 Lightnings operated by the RAAF and the USAAF 8PRS. Iain Robilliard has kindly supplied extracts from the log book of his father Flt Lt F.H.W. Robilliard who flew Lightnings with 1PRU. Iain has also supplied a series of air-to-air photos of A55-3, some of which will be familiar to readers. Extracts from Flt Lt Robilliard's log book now give us a clue as to when and under what circumstances these familiar photographs were taken. Please see the following pages for the photos and log book extracts. Thank you Iain.

Bob Rocker, who co-authored "The Eight Ballers: Eyes of the Fifth Air Force", has kindly supplied several wonderful images of F-4 Lightnings operated by the 8PRS. Some of these aircraft were loaned to the RAAF for operation by No 75 Squadron. These images can be viewed on the following pages. Thank you Bob.

Thanks also to Peter Grylls who supplied this alternative view of A55-1 sitting in a drainage ditch.

VH-ECD thanks to the Qantas Heritage Collection

VH-USB Landing at Wheeler Field
VH-USB Landing at Wheeler Field
VH-USB Under repair at Wheeler Field
VH-USB Smithy in the cockpit at Wheeler Field
VH-USB Departing Wheeler Field
VH-USB Departing Wheeler Field
VH-USB Departing Wheeler Field
VH-USB At Burbank
VH-USB At the Union Air Terminal, Burbank

Thanks to Jerry Morelock, also in the USA, we have a wonderful selection of images taken at Wheeler Field in Hawaii by his father, Jerry P.B. Morelock, Cmdr. USN (Ret.). Many thanks Jerry.

VH-USB Smithy & P.G. Taylor disembarking at at Wheeler Field
VH-USB In a USAAC hangar at Wheeler Field
VH-USB At Wheeler Field
VH-USB At Wheeler Field
VH-USB At Wheeler Field
VH-USB Smithy & P.G. Taylor at Wheeler Field

Tim Kalina has also sourced two images from the Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society to whom we extend our gratitude.

VH-USB Landing at Wheeler Field
VH-USB Departing Wheeler Field

And if that's not enough of this wonderful aeroplane, Tim has also forwarded another Wheeler Field image which comes from the collection of Damian Waters. Thank you Damian.

C-130 HERCULES - 03 APRIL 2006
Have you ever wondered what happened to all those ex-RAAF C-130As which gravitated to Manila? Thanks to Col Tigwell, we now know that they have all been scrapped. The pages for the following aircraft have been updated accordingly:
A97-206
A97-210
A97-211
A97-213
Similarly, the two aircraft which were stored in Portugal have also been scrapped:
A97-207
A97-216
The trainaid airframe which was badly damaged in a storm in December 2001 was buried at Richmond soon after:
A97-209
We are also advised that C-130J A97-465 which had been damaged, has been repaired and returned to service.
Thanks Col for all this information.

SUPER CONSTELLATION VH-EAG - 10 MARCH 2006
I have added two images of the HARS Connie taken at Bundaberg in 2005 by Phil Vabre. Many thanks Phil.
VH-EAG Sunset
VH-EAG Flyby

VH-ABV with MMA
VH-UZN with Ansett Airways
VH-UZN after the hangar fire

L-188 ELECTRA - 23 October 2004
Thanks to Ralph Pettersen I have added two recent photos of ex-Australian Electras operating with Air Spray in Canada. Many thanks Ralph.

C-GYVI the former Charrak Air Electra
C-GZVM the former VH-IOB

On the subject of priceless material, we are privileged to share in some magnificent photos by Alex Whitworth who also served with Adastra. Here is a small selection of Alex's work which includes an ultra-rare aerial photo of an Adastra Hudson:
VH-AGS attempting to keep formation with a Cessna.
VH-AGS being refuelled in the outback.
VH-AGX taxying amongst some typical Australian scenery.

I have also added a few Hudson images from other friends and from my own collection:
VH-AGS stripped of paint. Thanks to Matthew Denning for this image.
VH-AGP camouflaged. Photo by the late Mike Madden.
VH-AGJ displayed at Strathallan. Photo by the late Barry Flood.
VH-AGP post rhinoplasty.
VH-AGX cockpit.
VH-SMO at Brisbane in 1965.

Image 9 Smithy inspecting the shiny new Altair "ANZAC"

Image 10 A poignant photo of Smithy inspecting the starboard undercarriage of the Altair. This undercarriage unit is all that remains of the "Lady Southern Cross".

Image 19 A series of photos showing repairs to the Altair's main fuel tank at Wheeler Field in Hawaii during the Pacific flight. These photos were recently acquired by Tim Kalina and are published here for the first time anywhere.


The Perfect Airlifter

Kelly Johnson made few mistakes as Lockheed’s star engineer, but he made a beaut when he offered his opinion of the original C-130. “Hibbard, if you sign that letter,” Johnson said, pointing to the cover sheet that was to accompany Lockheed’s C-130 prototype proposal to the U.S. Air Force,“you will destroy Lockheed.” He thought the Hercules, which had all the style and grace of a road grader, was so ugly that the company wouldn’t sell enough to recoup its considerable development expenses. Fortunately, his boss, Lockheed V.P. Hall Hibbard, overruled the Emperor of Burbank. Some said that Johnson hated the Herk because it couldn’t shoot, drop bombs or go supersonic. Nor did it help that it was only Lockheed’s second four-engine production airplane, and that the first, the Constellation, was one of the most beautiful aircraft ever to fly.

Johnson worshipped speed, sophistication and beauty. The Herk prayed at the altar of simplicity, reliability, ruggedness and economy. Yes, the C-130 in prototype form had a nose like a goat. Yes, the C-130 was a boxcar with wings on fat Tonka-toy wheels, and yes, it had a straight wing that looked like an ironing board bolted atop its fuselage. The airplane was totally out of character for a company that prized aesthetics. This was Lockheed, forgodsakes, not the Grumman Iron Works or Republic ThunderThud. The Lockheed of Connies, Shooting Stars and missile-with-a-man-in-it Starfighters. Get a grip!

But Kelly Johnson disdaining the C-130 was like Enzo Ferrari poking fun at the Chrysler Minivan. The soccer mom truck was a vehicle whose time had come. So was the Herk. “The Hercules is a good design,” Johnson eventually admitted, “but there is no market for it. We’ll probably only sell about 100 of them.” As I write this, more than 2,400 C-130s of seven basic models and a total of 70 individual variants have been sold throughout the world.

While the 1950s Air Force sired badass jet fighters and mega-engine strategic bombers, the neglected orphan of its fleet was the transport, the cargo plane, what later came to be called the airlifter. As America went to war in Korea with Johnson’s F-80s and then swept-wing North American F-86s, supplies and troops were still being hauled in Ernie Gann–era Douglas C-47s, C-54s and some leftover Curtiss C-46s. The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was state of the art for tactical chores—airborne troopers called it the Dollar Nineteen and hoped to never have to ride in one—and the obese, double-deck Douglas C-124 Globemaster II was the strategic-airlift superplane. Yet they all relied on piston engines. Even the biggest recips didn’t have the power to carry truly significant tonnage, and since many transports were twins, they had a fatal flaw: If you lost an engine, particularly on takeoff, staying in the air when loaded was a desperate game. Even the four-engine C-124 could only gain 50 feet per minute on a warm day if it lost an engine on takeoff while loaded.

It took the Army six weeks to move two divisions from the U.S. to Korea by sea to fight the war. American airlifters didn’t have the necessary range, and they didn’t have the payload to carry heavy support equipment and armor.

A Pentagon committee was formed to fix this for the future, to give the Air Force a tactical transport with great payload and good range. (Tactical means an airplane that can go to the forward battle area strategic transports, like today’s Lockheed C-5 and Boeing C-17, handle the intercontinental missions but are too valuable to risk in hot-fire zones.) A colonel on the committee, whose name seems to be lost to history, finally framed the need in understandable terms. “We need a medium transport,” he said,“that can land on unimproved ground, be extremely rugged, be primarily for freight transport with troop-carrying capability, and carry about 30,000 pounds for 1,500 miles.” He had defined the C-130, which would do this and more. Much more.

When the Air Force put numbers to the need, they came up with a requirement for what at the time seemed like a superplane: a 35,000- foot high-altitude cruise capability at 280 knots at one end of the spectrum, and a controllable 125 knots down low and slow for airdrops and STOL capability at the other. Plus the ability to carry 15 tons of cargo into dirt strips, with reliability and power that no piston engine could provide, and a range of 2,000-plus miles.

Everything about the aircraft that Lockheed came up with in answer to this request for proposal was designed to address those needs. The cargo area is boxcar-huge, rectangular and unobstructed (no spar carry-throughs or sidewall bulges) and it sits belly-to-the-ground at truck-bed height, so that the C-130 has true ro-ro capability: roll-on/roll-off loading.

The C-130’s most distinctive feature is a schnoz as multifaceted as a disco ball, with 23 individual windowpanes, some of them below and others behind the flight crew. It is configured to allow pilots to see everything around them in an unfamiliar, unprepared landing zone that might even require using prop reverse to back up, and with no marshallers waving wands for guidance. The lowest windows are for use during airdrops, so the pilots can keep the drop zone in sight even after it has passed under the nose.

The Herk’s vertical tail is enormous and mounted up high—enormous to provide slow-speed stability and control, high to leave an unobstructed area under it for trucks and cargo just aft of the loading ramp. The landing gear is squat and simple, retracting into fuselage pods that take no space from the cargo area and allow for the most basic straight-up, straight-down retraction mechanism—no fancy linkages or complex gear-folding geometry. The tires are fat and low-pressure, the aeronautical equivalent of off-roaders. They are mounted in tandem pairs, one behind the other on each side, so that the front tire flattens and compacts soft ground while its partner behind it rolls easily through the hardened rut that it creates. And the gear’s track— the distance between the wheel pairs—is narrow enough to permit the C-130 to use a highway as a runway.

Inside the right-hand gear pod is a strong, strident turbine APU (auxiliary power unit) that can be fired up to provide full electrical power for ground operation, including air conditioning, which is important for an airplane designed to not only carry cargo into a combat area but to ferry casualties out. More important, the C-130’s APU can start the engines when the nearest ground power cart is 150 miles away. Large airplanes—transports, World War II bombers— have had small gasoline-powered ground power units that could provide a bit of electricity since the days of 1930s flying boats, but the C-130’s APU is only the second powerful turbine unit to be mounted in an airplane (the C-124’s was the first).

It’s sometimes forgotten that the C-130 was the very first U.S. airplane, other than fighters and bombers, to use turbine engines. And it was the first U.S. production turboprop plane of any kind. (Early Hercules pilots got used to tower controllers telling them their engines were trailing smoke and appeared to be on fire.) The fact that the Allison division of General Motors was developing a powerful lightweight turboprop engine, the T56, was a stroke of luck for Lockheed—one of the few examples of a totally new airframe design that could be mated with a new power plant that was largely ready, willing and able.

Turboprop engines come in two basic flavors: free turbine and single shaft. In a free-turbine engine—the ubiquitous PT6 being the best example—a gas-generator turbine blows its super-hot exhaust through a second turbine, and that turbine turns the prop. The only connection between the two turbines is hot air.

A single-shaft turboprop like the T56 has a gas-generator turbine connected by a solid shaft directly to a reduction gearbox that drives the propeller. A T56’s gas generator (the “jet engine” part) spins at a constant speed—just under 14,000 rpm. It is shafted to a transmission, which spins its propeller at a constant speed, a very efficient flop-flop-flop 1,020 rpm. Advancing the “throttle” on a T56—more accurately called a power lever—has no effect on the engine’s or prop’s speed. It simply changes the pitch of the propeller blades. As the prop takes a more aggressive bite of air, that causes more fuel to be fed to the gas generator, hence more power. 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-130 begins to taxi until it shuts down after landing, the distinctive hum of its engines stays constant, growing and shrinking only in volume.

In a C-130, power comes on the instant it’s demanded by the pilot—no jet engine spool-up time, not even a piston engine’s brief lag. For Air Force transport pilots, few of whom had ever seen a turboprop, much less flown one, the Hercules was an E-ticket ride. Long the object of every fighter pilot’s contempt and even the bomber drivers’ condescension, the trash haulers suddenly had an airplane that out-accelerated anything else in the Air Force and that handled like a dogfighter, thanks to innovative (at the time) hydraulically boosted flight controls. 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 Herk answered the helm right away.

Initially, the Lockheed C-130/Allison T56 mating wasn’t an out-of-the-box match made in heaven. 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-130 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-130 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 C-130A the arrogant hot rod of the family. “The A is for go, the E is for show,” C-130 pilots would later say, comparing the rough-as-a-cob C-130A to the long-range, more sophisticated C-130E. With its raw power, four huge AeroProducts props and light weight, the C-130A 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. The next model, the C-130B, segued to four-blade props that were 12 feet in diameter, which moved the tips away from the Herk’s hull. Since the shorter blades still revolved at the engine’s fixed 1,020 propshaft rpm, the tips were traveling more slowly, which also made them quieter.

With four 3,750-hp engines—soon to be uprated to 4,050 apiece—the C-130 was one of the most overpowered aircraft in the military inventory. It could literally fly on one engine. Early in the airplane’s career, a C-130A lost three engines in a thunderstorm over the Smoky Mountains after hail pounded shut their oil-cooler doors, but the Herk made it to Pope AFB, in North Carolina, on its sole remaining T56. Another C-130A lost three engines to fuel contamination over the Pacific with a 10,000-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.

The C-130 development program’s nadir—though it could have been tragically worse— came on an April day in 1955. The number-two prototype was aloft on that bumpy afternoon with spring thunderstorms in the Atlanta area. 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-130 straight into the pattern and land.

As the airplane rolled out, a fuel line quick-disconnect in the no. 2 engine let go, and a stream of jet fuel hit the hot engine and erupted in a trail of fire. 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-130 is surprisingly aerobatic. The Navy’s Blue Angels are supported by a Marine Corps C-130T fondly known as Fat Albert, which usually opens the show with its own acro routine. No loops or rolls, but remember this is a 40-ton transport aircraft designed almost 60 years ago. Even so, during the Vietnam War a number of C-130s were reportedly forced into splitesses and barrel rolls to evade SAMs and even a few MiGs.

Early in the C-130’s career there was a four-ship Hercules aerial demonstration team called the Four Horsemen. 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-130 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.

Airline pilots are still surprised when Center calls and says, “United 54, you have opposite-direction traffic, 12 o’clock and 2,000 feet above you, a C-130…” Seeing a straight-wing, prop-driven airplane at substantial flight levels can be a surprise, but depending on the load, some C-130s can cruise in the low 30,000s. In 1964 a lightly loaded C-130B climbed to 43,500 feet over the Parachute Test Range at El Centro, Calif., to drop a team of HALO (high altitude–low opening) jumpers. It would to this day be the world record for the C-130’s weight and power plant category, but the flight was not an official record attempt, it was just takin’ care of business. The official altitude record is held by the new C-130J: 36,560 feet, with a max-gross cargo load.

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. Other military airplanes were “adapted” for Vietnam’s needs, some in ways their creators never intended, but all the C-130 needed was warpaint. It was said that if the Air Force’s and Navy’s F-4 Phantoms had been grounded, the Vietnam War would have continued, but if the C-130s had been grounded, we’d have had to throw up our hands and go home. 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. C-130s 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.

Inventive in-country load masters then developed a maneuver in which a Herk would land, do a 180 on the runway after rollout and accelerate into an immediate gettin’-outa-Dodge takeoff. Simultaneous release of all the cargo pallet tiedowns let the acceleration spit them out the rear ramp, and load masters judged the accuracy of their timing by whether the pallets landed on the runway, forklift-ready, with the same 2-inch between pallet spacing that they’d had while sitting in the cargo compartment.

The C-130 is the largest airplane ever to routinely use unprepared landing sites, meaning anything not made of concrete or asphalt. Certainly larger airplanes such as the C-5 and C-17 have landed on rough strips during acceptance testing to prove that it could be done if necessary, but turbofan jet engines don’t like dirt and debris. An off airport landing in a C-5 or C-17 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 1963 the Navy briefly 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 USS Forrestal. Ultimately, the Navy decided that with a C-130 taking up space on a carrier’s deck, not much else could move until the Herk either departed or, in an emergency, was pushed over the side. The minimal clearance between the C-130’s right wingtip and the carrier’s island was also a bit too sporty for routine operations.

The most spectacular C-130 application in Vietnam was the AC-130 Spectre gunship—the first -130 not to be named Hercules. (The AC-130U gunship used in the 1991 Gulf War was called Spooky.) Depending on the variant, AC-130s have been equipped with a menu of armament that runs the gamut from 7.62mm mini-guns and 20mm and 40mm cannons to a 105mm howitzer.

Some C-130s also flew as bombers, both in Vietnam and during the Gulf War. The Air Force had developed a 15,000-pound bomb with a 3-foot-long probe and fuze on its nose. 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. The BLU-82 bombs were too heavy to be carried by a B-52—not because of the sheer load but because the concentration of weight couldn’t be handled by a B-52’s weight-and-balance envelope—and the bombs were too thin-skinned to support underwing shackle hangers. 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-130 record was set in Vietnam on April 19, 1975, the day a Vietnam Air Force Hercules carried a passenger load that would have challenged most widebody airliners: 452 passengers plus a crew of one, in an airplane normally configured for 92 passengers and a crew of five. (A VNAF C-130 instructor pilot flew the desperation mission solo.) The last fixed-wing flight out of Saigon, it was literally wall to wall with fleeing Vietnamese and American dependents, civilians and children. Thirty-two of them jammed onto the flight deck alone, and a second C-130 pilot aboard the flight couldn’t get through them to reach the copilot seat.

At the very end of the 20th century, Lockheed Martin introduced the C-130J Super Hercules, which currently is the only C-130 model in production. Its power plants—a Rolls-Royce version of an Allison doublespool engine (Rolls acquired Allison in 1995)—each put out 4,700 hp and drive lightweight, six-scimitar-blade, composite Rotol props, giving the C-130J almost 4,000 total hp more than the original C-130A. The J is far faster, quicker-climbing, higher-flying and longer-range than any of its predecessors, and it has set 54 world records in all of those categories and then some.

Here and there all over the world, half-century-old C-130s are quietly being retired, and someday 40 or 50 years in the future, it will happen to C-130Js as well. It is inevitable that we’ll then see something unprecedented: an airplane design that will have flown productively, in substantial numbers, for 100 years. Even the DC-3 won’t be able to make that claim.

The C-130 has been in production for 58 years, a world record for military aircraft of any kind. Perfectionists will point out that the Antonov An-2 biplane used by various air forces has been in production for 65 years, but the Ant is basically an unarmed civil design. The Beech Bonanza has also been in steady production for 65 years, but unlike the C-130 and the An-2, the current Bonanza has nothing but its name in common with the 1947 original.

It’s been said that the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3, but it could also be said that a C-130 would fill the bill very nicely. Certainly the only replacement for a C-130 is another C-130. In 58 years, no airframer has been able to replicate the seemingly simple C-130’s qualities, though many have tried. Something has always been missing: pure utility, economy of operation, price, unprepared-field capability, maintenance simplicity, ruggedness… It may be that, as the head of Lockheed’s Advanced Design Department, Willis Hawkins, once said, “We got this one exactly right.”

For further reading, frequent contributor Stephan Wilkinson recommends: Herk: Hero of the Skies, by Joseph E. Dabney. Among the many YouTube videos featuring C-130s, three of our favorites are a jump-seater’s view of a performance by the Blue Angels’ Fat Albert (search “Fat Albert cockpit”), a newsreel showing 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 the Iranian hostages in 1980 (search “Credible Sport”).

Originally published in the January 2013 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.


Lockheed to Build Spacecraft for NASA Venus Exploration Missions

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will design, develop and operate the spacecraft for two missions NASA selected to explore Venus as part of the agency’s Discovery Program.

The space agency expects the two missions – Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and Imaging Plus or DAVINCI+ and Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography & Spectroscopy or VERITAS – to launch between 2028 and 2030, Lockheed said Wednesday.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will manage the operations and scientific activities associated with DAVINCI+, while the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California will oversee VERITAS.

The agency said DAVINCI+ will study the composition of the planet’s atmosphere and host the Goddard-built Compact Ultraviolet to Visible Imaging Spectrometer, also known as CUVIS.

VERITAS will explore Venus’ geologic history and rock type by mapping the planet’s surface and infrared emissions. This mission will host the JPL-developed Deep Space Atomic Clock-2 to help improve radio science observations and enable the spacecraft to perform autonomous maneuvers.

The Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will manage the selected missions as part of the Discovery Program.


Advertisement

The first Constellations were designed as an American military transport during the Second World War.

“It was developed for Howard Hughes, who owned TWA, Trans-World Airlines,” said Vernon. “It became a military transport through the war, then they started stretching it and it became the Super Constellation, which was quite a bit longer, with more seats and bigger engines.”

Delivery of TCA’s first batch of Super Constellations was delayed a year because Lockheed was too busy building military planes for the Korean War. In 1954, TCA purchased eight of them, at $1.8 million apiece.

The first trans-Atlantic flight by a TCA “Super Connie” was on May 14, 1954. Initially they flew four days a week, but the flights were so popular they soon were daily.

Completion for the European market was fierce. TCA was owned by the Canadian government, which declined to give the privately owned Canadian Pacific Airlines access to fly to London.

So CP Air flew to Amsterdam instead, via what it called the “polar route.” It was an 18-hour flight on a McDonnell-Douglas DC-6B, which Vernon said stopped to refuel in Greenland.

In September 1957, Pan American started offering Vancouverites a “short cut” from Seattle over the polar route with its DC Super-7 “Clippers.” In 1958, TCA’s Super Constellations started flying the “Hudson’s Bay route” from Vancouver to Winnipeg and then London.

But the age of big prop planes like the Super Constellation was drawing to a close. In 1956, TCA ordered four DC-8s with turbine (jet) engines. They started flying in the summer of 1960, allowing direct flights from Vancouver to Europe that took 12 hours.

The Super Constellations continued to fly domestically until 1963. One was converted to use as a restaurant and cocktail lounge at the Toronto airport it was purchased in 2005 by the Museum of Flight in Seattle, which is near Boeing Field.

TCA’s piston-engined Lockheed Super Constellation. Photo by Malcolm Parry / Vancouver Sun

Ad for Trans-Canada Airline’s new Lockheed Super-Constellation plane in the May 3, 1954 Vancouver Sun. PNG

Ad for Trans-Canada Airline’s new Lockheed Super-Constellation plane in the May 12, 1954 Vancouver Sun. PNG

Trans-Canada Airlines ad on May 3, 1954 advertising flights to Europe for $389. This was probably one way. An online inflation calculator says would be $3,791 in 2021. PNG

Canadian Pacific Airlines ad in the June 24, 1955 Vancouver Sun for its new “Polar Route” to Europe – a Vancouver to Amsterdam flight.

Ad for Trans-Canada Airline’s “Hudson’s Bay route” from Vancouver to London in the May 17, 1958 Vancouver Sun. The “direct” flight actually had two stops.

Feb. 15, 1960. These seven aircraft mark the progress of Trans-Canada Airlines from a small domestic company with 448 passengers in 1939 to over three million in 1959. At top are the company’s first plane, the 10-passenger Lockheed 10A, and its replacement, the Douglas DC-3. Below them are the North Star, which began TCA’s trans-Atlantic service, and the Lockheed Super-Constellation. Two planes at bottom are the Vickers Viscount, first commercial turboprop in North America, and the larger Vickers Vanguard, a 96-passenger, medium-range turboprop for use in 1961. Bottom right is the pure jet, 127 passenger Douglas DC-8, latest addition to TCA which can span the continent in five hours or cross the Atlantic in six and a half. Canadian Press Photo/Vancouver Sun files. PNG


Watch the video: Top Secret Rocket powered C-130 plane (January 2022).