C -130 - Zgodovina

C -130 - Zgodovina


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C-130 HERKUL

Misija C-130 Hercules opravlja predvsem taktični del misije letalstva. Letalo lahko deluje z grobih, umazanih trakov in je glavni prevoz za spuščanje vojakov in opreme v zrak na sovražna območja. C-130 deluje po vsem ameriškem letalstvu, služi pa poveljstvu zračne mobilnosti (na državni ravni), poveljstvu za posebne operacije letalskih sil, gledališkim poveljstvom, letalski narodni gardi in poveljstvu rezervnih letalskih sil, ki v obeh državah izpolnjuje široko paleto operativnih misij in vojne situacije. Osnovne in specializirane različice letalskega ogrodja opravljajo različne vloge, vključno s podporo letalskih prevozov, oskrbo z ledom na Antarktiki, letalsko-medicinskimi misijami, izvidom vremena, misijami zračnega pršenja, gasilskimi nalogami ameriške službe za gozdove in misijami za pomoč pri naravnih nesrečah.

Lastnosti Z zadnjo nakladalno rampo in vrati lahko C-130 sprejme najrazličnejše prevelike tovore, vključno z vsemi uporabnimi helikopterji in šestkolesnimi oklepniki do standardnega paletiziranega tovora in vojaškega osebja. V vlogi zračne dostave lahko zračno pretovori obremenitve do 42.000 funtov ali pa uporabi visoko plavajoče podvozje za pristanek in dostavo tovora na grobe, umazane trakove.

Prilagodljiva zasnova Herculesa omogoča, da ga konfigurirate za številne različne naloge, kar omogoča, da eno letalo opravlja vlogo mnogih. Velik del posebne misijske opreme, dodane Herculesu, je odstranljiv, kar omogoča, da se letalo po želji vrne v svojo vlogo dostave tovora. Poleg tega je C-130 mogoče hitro konfigurirati za različne vrste tovora, kot so paletizirana oprema, materiali, naloženi na tla, platforme za zračne padce, paketi sistemov za dostavo zabojnikov, vozila in osebje ali letalska evakuacija.

C-130J je najnovejši dodatek floti C-130 in bo nadomestil stara C-130E. C-130J vključuje najsodobnejšo tehnologijo za zmanjšanje potreb po delovni sili, nižje stroške delovanja in podpore ter zagotavlja prihranke pri življenjskem ciklu v primerjavi s prejšnjimi modeli C-130. V primerjavi s starejšimi C-130 se model J vzpenja vse hitreje, z večjo potovalno hitrostjo leti dlje in vzleti in pristane na krajši razdalji. C-130J-30 je raztegljiva različica, ki trupu doda 15 čevljev in poveča uporaben prostor v prtljažnem prostoru.

Glavne izboljšave sistema C-130J/J-30 vključujejo: napredno letalsko postajo z dvema pilotoma s popolnoma integrirano digitalno letalsko elektroniko; barvni večnamenski zasloni s tekočimi kristali in head-up zasloni; najsodobnejši navigacijski sistemi z dvojnim inercialnim navigacijskim sistemom in globalnim sistemom pozicioniranja; popolnoma integrirani obrambni sistemi; barvni radar z nizko močjo; digitalni prikaz premikajočih se zemljevidov; novi turbopropelerski motorji s šest lopaticami, v celoti sestavljeni propelerji; digitalni avto pilot; izboljšani sistemi za zaščito goriva, okolja in ledu; in izboljšan sistem za ravnanje s tovorom.

Ozadje
Štiri desetletja so minila, odkar so letalske sile izdale svojo prvotno oblikovno specifikacijo, vendar izjemni C-130 ostaja v proizvodnji. Začetni serijski model je bil C-130A s štirimi turbopropelerji Allison T56-A-11 ali -9. Skupno je bilo naročenih 219, dobave pa so se začele decembra 1956. C-130B je predstavil turbopropelerske enote Allison T56-A-7, prvi od 134 pa je maja 1959 vstopil v službo letalskih sil.

389 C-130E, ki so bili predstavljeni avgusta 1962, so uporabljali isti motor Allison T56-A-7, vendar so dodali dva zunanja rezervoarja za gorivo 1290 galonov in povečali največjo vzletno težo. Junija 1974 je predstavil prvega od 308 C-130H z močnejšim turbopropelerskim motorjem Allison T56-A-15. Navzven skoraj enak C-130E, je novi motor letalu prinesel velike izboljšave.

Najnovejši C-130, ki je bil izdelan, je C-130J vstopil v zalogo februarja 1999. Z opazno razliko med sestavljenim propelerjem s šestimi lopaticami, povezanim s turbopropelerskim motorjem Rolls-Royce AE2100D3, C-130J prinaša bistvene izboljšave glede na vseh prejšnjih modelih in je omogočil uvedbo C-130J-30, raztegljive različice s 15-metrskim podaljškom trupa. Letalske sile so izbrale C-130J-30 za zamenjavo upokojenih C-130E. Za popis je predvidenih približno 168 C-130J/J-30. Doslej so letalske sile od Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company prevzele 32 letal C-130J z naročili za približno 46 letal.

Splošne značilnosti
Primarna funkcija: globalno letalstvo
Izvajalec: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
Elektrarna:
C-130E: Štirje turbopropelerji Allison T56-A-7; 4200 konjskih moči gredi
C-130H: Štiri turbopropelerske enote Allison T56-A-15; 4.591 konjskih moči gredi
C-130J: Štirje turbopropelerski motorji Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3; 4700 konjskih moči
Dolžina: C-130E/H/J: 97 čevljev, 9 palcev (29,3 metra)
C-130J-30: 34,69 metrov (112 čevljev, 9 palcev)
Višina: 38 čevljev, 10 palcev (11,9 metra)
Razpon kril: 132,7 čevljev, 7 palcev (39,7 metra)
Tovorni prostor:
C-130E/H/J: dolžina, 40 čevljev (12,31 metra); širina, 119 palcev (3,12 metra); višina, 9 čevljev (2,74 metra). Zadnja rampa: dolžina, 123 palcev (3,12 metra); širina, 119 palcev (3,02 metra)


Leta 1951 so ZDA po blokadi Berlina in začetku korejske vojne želele posodobiti floto prevoznikov, ki jo sestavljajo predvsem C-47 Skytrain in C-119 Flying Boxcar. Letalstvo ZDA je sprožilo zahtevo za jurišno transportno letalo, ki bi lahko nosilo 64 padalcev, vzletelo in pristalo na osnovnih vzletno -pristajalnih stezah ter delovalo z motorjem, ki ni v uporabi.

Leta 1952 so ameriške letalske sile izbrale projekt Lockheed, imenovan YC-130A, in naročile dva prototipa. 23. avgusta 1954 je bil prvi let v Burbank v Kaliforniji, 9. decembra 1956 pa je bil C-130A Hercules dan v uporabo v ameriških letalskih silah.

C-130 je bil zasnovan s trdnim okvirjem za pristajanje na nepripravljenih območjih, kot so plaže ali travnate steze. Mere tovornega prostora letala omogočajo prenašanje opreme C-130, kot so lahki oklepniki, tovornjaki, čolni itd.


Lovci na orkane

Lovci na orkane so se rodili kot vmes sredi ameriške vpletenosti v drugo svetovno vojno, njen izvor pa se je začel z drznostjo. Ko je več britanskih pilotov - od katerih so številni dosegli slavo, da se imenujejo "asi" - napolnilo ušesa inštruktorja letenja podpolkovnika Joea Duckwortha s sarkastičnimi pripombami, ki spodbujajo njegove "slabše" letalske instrumente, jih je izzval na prijateljsko stavo. Če bi lahko letel z "teksaškim" trenerjem AT-6 v orkan orkana, ki je prišel na kopno v Gavelstonu, bi morali spoštovati njegovo letalo in njegovo instrumentalno tehniko letenja.

23. julija 1943 sta skupaj s svojim navigatorjem, poročnikom Ralphom O'Hairom, v nasprotju s pravili, ki jih je postavilo njegovo poveljstvo, preletela burno nevihto. Veter in dež sta bila tako huda, da je rekel, kot da bi ga "vrgli kot palico v pasja usta". Ko so se vrnili v bazo, je drugi radovedni vremenski častnik, poročnik William Jones-Burdick, zahteval, da poleti v epicenter nevihte, da bi se na lastne oči prepričal. Od tega trenutka naprej je Bryan's Field postal prestolnica "instrumentalnega letenja" in vrhunec preizkusnih letov za vremensko izvidovanje.

Leta so bila letala tehnološko napredna in opremljena z izboljšanimi instrumenti. Leteča trdnjava B-17 in WB-25 Mitchell sta leta 1940 letela na misijah. Ameriška vojska je leta 1944 ustanovila "Army Hurricane Reconnaissance Unit", najzgodnejšo predhodnico današnjih lovcev na orkane. Povsem naravno je bilo, da se bo WC-130 pridružil mešanici do leta 1963, njihov znani ugled zanesljivosti pa je bil od takrat v enoti. WC-130 naj bi bilo eno najzanesljivejših letal v zgodovini vremenskega letalstva, dosežek, ki ostaja dosleden v številnih različicah platform.


C-130E "Hercules"

Z LOCKHEEDOM

Predstavljen avgusta 1962, je C-130E med vietnamsko vojno skozi vojne v Afganistanu in Iraku opravljal kritične misije ameriških letalskih sil (USAF). Podprl je tudi nešteta humanitarna prizadevanja USAF po vsem svetu in v vseh podnebjih.

C-130 Hercules, ki ga je prvotno zasnoval Lockheed kot jurišni transport, ki lahko deluje z neasfaltiranih letalskih stez, je prvič poletel avgusta 1954. V naslednjih pol stoletja so ameriške zračne sile uporabile različne različice tega vsestranskega letala za letalsko evakuacijo v zraku. polnjenje helikopterjev, obnova kapsul v vesoljskem zraku, iskanje in reševanje, izvidništvo, kot strelna ladja in za številne druge misije.

Razstavljeni C-130E (serijska številka 63-7868) je bil v uporabi aprila 1964. Imel je dolgo kariero, vključno z obsežnimi storitvami v jugovzhodni Aziji med vietnamsko vojno tako za USAF kot za Air America. Pred vietnamsko vojno je 7868 sodelovalo v operaciji Rdeči zmaj, napotitvi belgijskih padalcev in reševanju talcev v Kongu novembra 1964. Zadnja naloga letala je bila v letalski bazi Little Rock v Arkansasu, kjer so ga uporabljali za usposabljanje letalskih posadk. .

To letalo je bilo upokojeno septembra 2011, potem ko je bilo v uporabi 47 let.

SPECIFIKACIJE:
Razpon: 132 ft. 7 in.
Dolžina: 97 ft 9 in.
Višina: 38 ft. 10 in.
Utež: 155.000 funtov. maks.
Največja obremenitev: Šest palet ali 74 legel
ali 16 paketov sistema za dostavo zabojnikov
ali 92 bojnih enot ali 64 padalcev
ali katero koli kombinacijo teh do 42.000 lbs.
Motorji: Štirje turbopropelerski motorji Allison T-56-A-7 z močjo 4200 KM. ea.
Cena: $2,159,474
Posadka: 4
Serijska številka: 63-7868

IZVEDBA:
Hitrost: 345 km / h. pri 20.000 čevljih
Obseg: 1.438 milj s 35.000 kilogrami. nosilnosti
Servisni strop: 19.000 ft s 42.000 lbs. nosilnosti


Danes v zgodovini: rojen 21. junija

William Sydney Smith, britanski pomorščak med Napoleonovimi vojnami.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, afroameriški slikar.

Arnold Lucius Gesell, psiholog in pediater.

Rockwell Kent, umetnik, ilustrator knjige.

Reinhold Niebuhr, protestantski teolog.

Jean-Paul Sartre, francoski filozof in eksistencialist.

Albert Hirschfeld, ilustrator.

Mary McCarthy, ameriška pisateljica (Spomini na katoliško dekle, Skupina).


C -130 - Zgodovina

Delno razstavljen C-130E Hercules, serijska številka 62-1789, je bil 13. junija previdno prestavljen iz Hangarja 301 v letalski park Heritage Hill, kjer ga bodo ponovno sestavili in postavili na ogled. Fotografija: JM Simpson

Ko so delno razstavljeni C-130E Hercules počasi vlekli po vrsti parkiranih C-17, je Ernest White to opazil s ponosom.

"To je čudovito gledati, saj se to zgodi le občasno," je povedal predstavnik za odnose z javnostmi pri fundaciji McChord Air Museum Foundation.

V nedeljo, 13. junija, so letalci, razporejeni v 62. letalsko krilo, 446. letalsko krilo in prostovoljci muzejev, poskušali počasi premakniti letalo do končnega cilja v letalskem parku Heritage Hill.

Letalo je letelo 47 let in nabralo 27.329,1 ur letenja.

Vzdrževalci letal so odstranili izvenkrmne motorje in del kril za krmarjenje po različnih vratih, prometnih znakih, drevesih in svetilkah vzdolž poti. Ko bo na letališču, bo Hercules postavljen in nato ponovno sestavljen.

"To se že dolgo dogaja," je komentiral Ray Jordan, administrator muzeja. "Velik kos McChordove dediščine gre mimo nas."

Izjavil je tudi, da so prostovoljci iz muzeja v zadnjih petih letih podarili več kot 40.000 ur za obnovo letala v prvotnem stanju.

"Predani posamezniki, ki so delali na tem projektu, segajo od upokojenih pilotov in inženirjev do učiteljev, mehanikov in mizarjev," je dodal prostovoljec Bill Mantzke.

"Ko bodo ljudje obiskali park, bodo videli lepo obnovljen C-130E Hercules, ki prikazuje nekaj zgodovine ne letalskega, ampak tudi McChordovega."

Od leta 1975 do leta 1987 so bili C-130 dodeljeni 36. eskadrili taktičnega letalstva v takratni letalski bazi McChord.

Zgradil ga je Lockheed, C-130 Hercules je štirimotorno turbopropelersko vojaško transportno letalo. C-130 je bil prvotno zasnovan kot četa, medicinska evakuacija in prevoz tovora.

Vsestranski letalski okvir je bil uporabljen tudi kot strelna ladja in za zračne napade, iskanje in reševanje, podporo znanstvenih raziskav, vremensko izvidovanje, polnjenje z letalom, pomorsko patruljiranje in gašenje požarov iz zraka.

Več kot 40 različic Herculesa, vključno s civilnimi različicami, ki se tržijo kot Lockheed L-100, deluje v več kot 60 državah.

C-130 je začel delovati leta 1956 in kmalu začel leteti po vsem svetu. V letih svojega delovanja je Hercules sodeloval v številnih vojaških, civilnih in humanitarnih operacijah pomoči.

Leta 2007 je C-130 postalo peto letalo, ki je obeležilo 50 let neprekinjene službe s svojim prvotnim primarnim kupcem, to je letalstvo ZDA. Je tudi najdaljše neprekinjeno proizvedeno vojaško letalo pri več kot 60 letih.

Toda za prostovoljce, kot je White, ki so raziskali shemo barve in nalepke, da bi se ujemali s tem, kako je izgledal ta C-130E Hercules, ko je prvič letel, je poteza pomenila konec procesa.

"Imeli smo tako odlično sodelovanje s 62. letalskim krilom, 446. letalskim krilom in prostovoljci," je zaključil.


C -130 - Zgodovina

Spectre se je začel, ko so operativna testiranja C-130 kot strelne ladje potekala na letališču Eglin AFB FL od junija do septembra 1967. Ptica je prvi boj videla, ko je bila operativna skupina C-130A napotena v Nha Trang, Republika Vietnam , 20. septembra 1967. Prva bojna misija je bila opravljena kmalu zatem 27. septembra 1967. Prva strelna ladja AC-130 je bila v prvih dneh delovanja znana kot "Super Spook". Prva misija uničevanja tovornjakov je bila opravljena 9. novembra 1967. Ta delovna skupina je postala 2. odred 14 -og letalskega komandnega krila. Junija 1968 je bil Spectre napoten v Tan Son Nhut AB blizu Saigona za podporo proti ofenzivi TET. Medtem je bil odred 2, 14. letalsko komandosko krilo, dodeljen osmemu taktičnemu lovskemu krilu in postal 16. eskadrila za posebne operacije. Takrat je bila C-130A označena kot AC-130A.

30. oktobra 1968 je bil v tajski letalski bazi Ubon Royal (RTAFB) aktiviran 16 SOS & quotSpectre & quot. Enota je bila najprej opremljena z orožjem AC-l30A, kasneje pa z naprednejšim modelom AC-l30E/H. Še preden je bila Spectreva eskadrila, so jo uporabljale posebne enote v Vietnamu. 18. avgusta 1968 je bila strelna ladja, ki je upravljala oboroženo izvidniško misijo v vietnamskem III korpusu, preusmerjena v podporo bazi posebnih sil v Katumu. Kopneni poveljnik je hitro ocenil natančen ogenj in zmogljivosti tega orožnega sistema ter poklical ogenj na svojem obodu, ko je Viet Cong poskušal premostiti žico na zahodni strani svojega položaja. Tako se je začel tesni delovni odnos s specialnimi silami, ki ga Spectre še danes uživa. Nadaljevanje spodaj.

Prva leta Spectre so prinesla veliko prvih. 26. septembra 1968 je Spectre prvič zadel z namestitve protiletalskega topništva (AAA) v bližini taborišča posebnih sil-Spectre je imel nov obliž in je bil zdaj poškodovan. Decembra 1968 je Spectre poletel na svojo prvo misijo s spremstvom F-4, taktiko, ki je bila izvedena za zaščito topništva pred težkimi in koncentriranimi AAA. Prvo spremstvo so opravile "Nočne sove" 497. eskadrile taktičnih lovcev (TFS), ki je bila nameščena tudi pri Ubonu. Tako se je začelo še eno delovno razmerje, ki še vedno obstaja.

24. maja 1969 je Spectre izgubil prvo orožje in dva člana posadke. V trenutku, ko je bilo letalo udarjeno, je 16 SOS ohranilo svojo prvo KIA-operaterko osvetljevalca, ki je umrla zaradi eksplozije nabojev AAA, vendar šele, ko je pilota in posadko opozoril na bližajoče se smrtonosne kroge. Večina posadke je rešila Tajsko in so jo okrevali. Skeletna posadka je letalo pripeljala nazaj v Ubon, kjer je pristalo. Vsi so pobegnili iz letala, preden so ga porabili v ognju, razen inženirja, ki je postal druga bojna smrt podjetja Spectre. Na svetlejši strani je Spectre 8. maja 1969 spektakularno dosegel spektakularen napad, ko je strelna ladja sestrelila sovražnikov helikopter, na žalost lokalne eskadrilje lovcev, ki v tistem času ničesar ni preprečila ubijanju zrak-zrak. .

Ko pomislimo na tovorne ladje za posebne operacije, takoj pomislimo na letalo AC-130, vendar niso bile vse te ladje AC-130. Pred AC-130 so letalske posadke letele zadnje v družini strelnih ladij, ki so vključevale znameniti AC-47 Spooky, AC-119G Shadow in AC-119K Stinger. Koncept je bil preizkušen in izbran je bil letalski okvir C-130, vendar je bilo na voljo zelo malo letal C-130 za konfiguracijo strelnih ladij in so bila uporabljena nadomestna letala. Decembra 1969 je AC-123K (Black Spot) začel delovati s 16 SOS. Velika razlika med AC-130 in AC-123 je bila v tem, da AC-123K ni imel pištol. To letalo Spectre je letelo nad cilji in odvrglo bombe! Ta orožni sistem se je izkazal za manj učinkovitega od svojega kolega AC-130, operacije z njim pa so junija 1970 prenehali.

Več o AC-123K, imenovanem tudi NC-123K & quotProject Black Spot & quot:

Decembra 1965 se je začelo USF Projekt Črna pika. Ta testni program je bil zasnovan tako, da je letalskim silam omogočil samostojen nočni napad za iskanje in uničevanje ciljev vzdolž poti Ho Chi Minh. V začetku leta 1966 je Ministrstvo za obrambo odobrilo koncept, dva ponudnika Fairchild C-123K (št. 54-691 in št. 54-698) pa je podjetje E-Systems iz Greenvillea v Teksasu spremenilo v preimenovano NC-123K (pogosto konfiguracija AC-123K).

Letalo je bilo opremljeno z dolgim ​​57,75-palčnim nosnim premazom, v katerem je bil nameščen radar, usmerjen v pas X. Spodaj in na zadnji strani razširjenega radoma je bil stolp z infrardečim radarjem (FLIR), nizko stopnjo svetlobe (LLLTV) in laserskim daljinomerjem/osvetljevalnikom. Prav tako so bili nameščeni nizko stopnji Doppler navigacijski radar in računalnik za sprostitev orožja.

Dva pravokotna razdelilnika orožja iz aluminija (za bombice CBU) sta bila zložena v trupu trupa. V vsakem vsebniku je bilo 12 celic, vsaka celica pa vsebuje tri enote grozdnih bomb (CBU). Odvisno od vrste nameščenega CBU -ja so imeli zabojniki kapacitete med 2664 in 6372 funtov. Bombe so bile sproščene skozi 12 odprtin v prtljažnem prostoru, ki so bile poravnane s celicami v razdelilniku orožja. Spodnji trup je vseboval 12 vrat, ki se odpirajo navznoter, ki so poravnana z odprtinami v prtljažnem prostoru in tvorijo žleb. Sproščanje krogle je nadzorovalo orožno ploščo v sprednjem delu trupa. V nujnih primerih se lahko celoten tovor ročno odvrže.

Prvo letalo (št. 54-691) je bilo avgusta 1967 dostavljeno družbi Eglin AFB na Floridi, drugo (št. 54-698), ki vsebuje komplet iskalnikov smeri AN/ASD-5 Black Crow (senzor vžiga motorja), pa je bilo dostavljeno leta Februarja 1968.

Pred napotitvijo v Vietnam sta bila letala poslana v letalsko oporišče Osan v Južni Koreji, da bi jih ocenili glede hitrih čolnov za infiltracijo, ki jih Severna Koreja uporablja za pošiljanje agentov v Južno Korejo. Enota je ostala v Koreji od 19. avgusta 1968 do 23. oktobra 1968, predvidenih pa je bilo skupaj 57 misij. Po opravljeni korejski nalogi je bila enota napotena v Južni Vietnam za bojno oceno sistema orožja & quotBlack Spot & quot.

V južnem Vietnamu je letalo delovalo pod imenom projekta in klicnim znakom - & quot; Črna točka & quot. Oba letala sta z operacijami začela 15. novembra 1968 z letalske baze Phan Rang z območji misij v Binh Thuyu in Pleikuju. V obdobju ocenjevanja bojev je bilo na ciljna območja, ki so sestavljena iz delte Mekonga in poti Ho Ši Min, letelo 69 letalskih prevozov. Od novembra 1968 do maja 1969 so te & quotgunships & quot preletele 186 misij, uničile 415 tovornjakov in poškodovale še 273. Med delovanjem kot oborožene enote za nočni nadzor v delti Mekonga sta letala uničila 151 čolnov/vozil, poškodovala je še 108 in opazila sekundarne eksplozije na 161 tarčah. Oba letala sta opravila 70 odstotkov vseh misij in imela 84-odstotno stopnjo provizije, kar ni slabo za letalo, ki je bilo razvito kot preskusno ležišče in nikoli ni bilo namenjeno operativni uporabi!

Nekaj ​​zgodovine, kot je povedal CMSgt Don Beardsley (33 -letni veteran USAF in dolgoletni Spectre/Blind Bat FE)

& quotVeliko ljudi ne ve za povezavo med obema enotama, Bennie Castillo je pri Danang AFB Viet začel Blind Bat. prvi FE, ki je umrl, je bil Cecil Taylor, ki je bil moj pomočnik vodje posadke/FE pri Patricku AFB. V takratnem poveljstvu Sistemov so bili FE dodeljeni Maintance in vzdrževali letalo, prav tako pa so bili dodeljeni FE. Veliko prvih članov posadke v Ubon je prišlo iz Patricka poleg vseh 130 iz njihovih.

Najbolj sem poznal vsakega posameznika v Spectru od njegovega začetka, ko sem bil pri Ubonu, ko je Spectre prvič prišel, (med njima sta bila velika tekmovanja med slepim netopirjem in spectrom, da bi videla, kdo bi lahko razpršil večino logotipov okoli baze). Danang v Vietnamu, toda potem, ko je bilo eno od naših letal napolnjeno, smo se preselili v Ubon, veliko tega se je začelo z Benniejem Bean Castillom. Letel sem s slepo palico C-130A, spustili smo rakete, da bi osvetlili cilje za lovsko letalo. že smo uporabljali merilno zvezdo, da smo ponoči našli tarče. Kasneje smo napredovali do NOD -a, preden je prišel Spectre, naš prvi EWO je bila naprava, izdelana iz okvirja dexon in na njem obsega, ki je lahko zaznal vžig tovornjakov gomer. Edina slaba stvar je, da nismo mogli ustreliti. Na moji prvi misiji v Severnem Vietnamu so nam prižgali iskalne luči in B57, ki so bili pri nas, so se hitro odlepili, počutil sem se, kot da smo v Fordu & quot; Model A & & quot; stran po stari makadamski cesti. Ko sem prišel v Lockbourne AFB, da bi pomagal pri usposabljanju bojnih posadk za delo na morju in Ubonu. Sprva smo na AC-119 usposabljali posadke za seznanjanje z orožjem. Čakamo na prvi AC-130A. Kmalu smo se preselili na Hurlburt Field. Ko smo prispeli, so AC-130E sedeli na klančini, takoj smo poslali štiri pilote in inženirje, da bi izvedeli vse o modelih E. Potem smo imeli nekako ljudi, ki so že bili usposobljeni za E, in strelci so se usposabljali. Ta šolska eskadrila je bila znana kot 415. SOTS. Ko je vojna prenehala z orožniško šolo in se je ocenjevalo, da jih obdrži ali pošlje na koščeno dvorišče. MI smo bili nato priključeni 8. SOS kot Gunships Ops, končno smo dobili dovoljenje za pripravo na vrnitev 16.. SOS bo aktiviran na Hurlburtovem polju. decembra 1975. Le dodana opomba je večina zgodnjih AC-130A prišla iz Patricka AFB, JC-130 & kvote, na kateri sem takrat letel. Zdaj poznate preostanek zgodbe. & Quot

- CMSgt Don Beardsley

Oba letala sta bila kasneje dodeljena 16. eskadrili za posebne operacije pri Ubon RTAB. 5. novembra 1969 je bila nameščena oprema ECM in RAHW, prvo letalo pa je prejelo sistem Black Crow. Svoje poslanstvo so nadaljevali od poznega leta 1969 do junija 1970 iz Ubona, pogosto s spremstvom nočnih lovcev zaradi močnega streljanja protiletalskega topništva (AAA).

Čeprav je bil projekt Black Spot popolnoma uspešen, sta bili obe letali pozneje prenovljeni na standard C-123K, ki sta služila kot običajna prevozna sredstva. Opomba: Po preoblikovanju so ohranili svojo edinstveno maskirno ovojnico.

Decembra 1970 je prišel Pave Pronto AC-130A. Ko je eskadrila še rasla, so se dogajali novi dogodki.

Odličen dokument & quotWar Against Trucks & quot; z zgodovinskega mesta USAF.

V začetku leta 1971 je bila prva uporaba bomb & quotsmart & quot, ki so bile uporabljene v povezavi s Spectrejevimi navodili, marca pa se je zgodil prvi napad SAM na sovjetsko orožje Spectre. 25. oktobra 1971 se je zgodilo tisto, kar so vsi navdušeno čakali, prva "quadCadillac", AC-130E. V nekaj dneh je model & quotE & quot opravil prvo bojno nalogo. Približno ob istem času je prišla nova strelna ladja, prišel je tudi aktivni televizijski sistem, ki je hitro postal sestavni del koncepta orožja. In kot da orožje s svojimi občutljivimi & očesnimi očmi & smrtonosno ognjeno močjo ni bilo dovolj super, je bil Spectre tik pred tem, da je še bolj ogromen. 17. februarja 1972 je prvi 105-milimetrski top prispel na servis s Spectrom in je bil nameščen na Gunship 570. Uporabljalo se je od sredine februarja, dokler letalo ni dobilo bojne poškodbe na desni loputi. 105 je bil prestavljen na Gunship 571 in je bil v uporabi do 30. marca, ko je bilo letalo sestreljeno.

28. januarja 1973 je začel veljati vietnamski mirovni sporazum, ki je označil konec operacij Spectre v Vietnamu. To je bil čas veselja, a vojna je še vedno divjala, Spectre pa so še vedno potrebovali in zahtevali. 22. februarja 1973 so se ameriške ofenzivne operacije v Laosu končale. To je pomenilo večjo proslavo v Ubonu, zdaj pa so se ladje popolnoma zavezale operacijam v kamboškem konfliktu. Med kamboškim spopadom je v boj prišla prva siva orožnica ali "quotgray ghost". Iste pomladi so se modeli & quotE & quot spremenili, saj so bili označeni kot modeli & quotH & quot. 15. avgusta 1973 je Spectre ustavil vse bojne operacije, ko se je ofenzivna vloga Združenih držav v jugovzhodni Aziji popolnoma in v celoti ustavila. Zadnja bitka, utrujena Spectre Gunship, se je dotaknila 15. avgusta 1973. pri Ubonu. 16 SOS je med turnejo po jugovzhodni Aziji doseglo nekaj neverjetnih podvigov. Kot najbolj smrtonosni nočni letalski orožni sistem v gledališču je Spectre uničil ali poškodoval več kot 10.000 tovornjakov po poti Ho Chi Minh. Poleg tega je eskadrila dosegla 1.327 zaporednih pravočasnih izstrelitev bojnih misij-fenomenalen rekord. Spectrejeva uspešnost med operacijami v Vietnamu, Laosu in Kambodži je bila izjemna, vendar ni prišla brez stroškov-v boju je bilo izgubljenih 52 pogumnih članov letalske posadke.

Vse dejavnosti eskadrilje med vietnamskim spopadom niso obravnavale boja. 5. decembra 1971 je 16 SOS podarilo lokalno vasico Mak Mi na Tajskem 800 funtov Budde. Vsako leto, od leta 1971 do 1973, je 16 SOS največ prispevalo k vsakoletni akciji sirotišnic, ki jo je vodilo 8. krilo taktičnih borcev. Potrebovali smo ogromno donacij, da smo odstranili ‘Ghost Riders ali Yellow Bird & Quot Radio Armed Forces.

22. julija 1974 je Spectre dokončal menjavo postaje na Korat RTAFB. Spectrejev namenski program usposabljanja je bil preizkušen 12. aprila 1975, ko so uporniki Rdečih Kmerov ogrožali prestolnico Phnom Penh. AC-130 so bili poklicani na pomoč pri operaciji EAGLE PULL, končni evakuaciji ameriških in zavezniških uradnikov iz Phnom Penha, preden je padla na oblast komunistom. Spectre je spet poletel v nebo in zagotovil, da bo evakuacija varna. Preden je Spectre pripovedovala o svojih zgodbah o Phnom Penhu, se je saigonska vlada začela poslabšati pod napadom komunistov iz Severnega Vietnama. AC-130 je bil 30. aprila 1975 nad Saigonom, da bi zaščitil končno evakuacijo prijaznih strank v operaciji FREQUENT WETD. Mir še vedno ni bil, saj je Kambodža preizkusila voljo in duh ZDA, ko je 15. maja 1975 na odprtem morju zasedla ameriški Mayaguez. Spectre je bil spet poklican. Bliskavica pištol in učinek njene ognjene moči si bodo zapomnili vojaki in mornarji Rdečih Kmerov. Spectre je imela pomembno vlogo pri reševanju ameriškega Mayagueza in njegove posadke. Pištola AC-130 je pokazala njeno vsestranskost, ognjeno moč, natančnost in zanesljivost.

Julija 1975 se je začela formacija edine eskadrile rezervnih letalskih sil Air Force Reserve, 711. SOS. Enota je bila ustanovljena na Duke Fieldu z vsemi AC-130A, ki so še v inventarju. Enota je z odliko sodelovala pri dejavnostih JUST CAUSE, DESERT SHIELD in DESERT STORM in še naprej ohranja prisotnost ZDA v Panami. 711. še vedno vzdržuje in leti originalne letalske sile C-130, & quotFirst Lady & quot; 129. Decembra istega leta se je 16 SOS začelo seliti v Hurlburt Field na Floridi, prva vojaška ladja pa je prišla 12. decembra 1975. Konec januarja 1976 so vsi moški in ženske 16 SOS zapustili Tajsko.

Naslednjih nekaj let so orožji Spectre šli skozi vrsto razmestitev, ki so se razširile po vsej Ameriki in večjem delu sveta. Novembra 1979 je bila enota zadolžena za neprekinjeno letenje s štirimi topniki AC-I30H s polja Hurlburt v Anderson AFB, Guam, zaradi talcev na veleposlaništvu v Iranu. Po vrnitvi marca 1980 se je eskadrila kmalu znašla v Egiptu, da bi podprla nesrečni poskus reševanja talcev. Za podporo tej operaciji so bila napotena štiri letala.

Naslednji izziv Spectre je potekal nad otokom Grenada 25. oktobra 1983, saj so bili AC-130H med operacijo NUJNI FURY nad glavo. 16 SOS je oboroženo izvidništvo in tesno letalsko podporo napadu večnacionalnih sil, ki so osvobodile otok. Spectre je bil pohvaljen, ker je "uničil dan", saj je posredoval obveščevalne podatke v zadnjih sekundah letalskim napadalcem. Posadke strelcev so utišale številne namestitve AAA in izstrelile več sovražnikovih oklepnikov.

Vrnitev domov ni trajala dolgo. Odzivajoč se na smer JCS, so se Spectri znašli v Howard AFB, coni Panamskega kanala, enem bolj eksotičnih krajev na svetu. Ohranili so stalno rotacijo do Howarda, spremljali dejavnosti v Salvadorju in drugih zanimivostih v Srednji Ameriki. Ta zaveza letal in posadk se je začela leta 1983 in je trajala do leta 1990, dlje kot prvotna zaveza o streljanju v jugovzhodni Aziji.

Operacija SAMO VZROK je bila intervencija nacionalnega poveljniškega organa v Republiko Panamo, ki so jo vodile bojne enote 16 SOS in 711 SOS. 20. decembra 1989 je sedem letal hkrati napadlo cilje panamskih obrambnih sil (PDF) po vsej državi. Vseh sedem letal, dva iz Howard AFB in pet iz polja Hurlburt, so pravočasno presegli svoje cilje. To sama po sebi ni bila lahka naloga, saj je zahtevala letenje dveh formacij, eno 8-urno, 5-ladično enoto iz CONUS-a. Do 27. decembra 1989 so posadke Spectra opravile 355 bojnih ur. Udeležbo strelne ladje AC-I30 Spectre v operaciji SAMO VZROK je najbolje povedati poveljnik 7. polka rangerjev v naslednjem citatu: & quot; Uničujoč požar, ki so ga izstrelili AC-130 pred napadi v zraku na Rio Hato in Torrijos/Tocumen, je pomagal pri tleh sile pri hitrem premagovanju upora pri obeh ciljih. Brez vaše podpore bi bile prijazne žrtve veliko večje. & Quot

Kmalu po PRAVEM VZROKU je Spectre spet spremenil ukaze in maja 1990 bil dodeljen poveljstvu za posebne operacije letalskih sil. 6. septembra 1990 je bilo 16 SOS napotenih v podporo operacijam DESERT SHIELD in DESERT STORM, ki jim je sledil 711 SOS. Primarni cilj je bil zagotoviti tesno letalsko podporo (CAS), varnost zadaj (RAS) in prepoved v podporo ciljem osrednjega poveljstva ZDA. 16. januarja 1991 se je začela operacija PUSTNA PORUKA. Primarni cilji prepovedi so bila mesta zgodnjega opozarjanja/prestrezanja talne kontrole (EW/GCI) ob južni meji Iraka. Prva bojna ladja, ki je vstopila v bitko pri Khafjiju, je bila 29. januarja umaknjena iz letalske pripravljenosti, da bi pomagala ustaviti iraško oklepno kolono, ki se je premikala proti jugu. Dan pozneje so bile poklicane še tri ladje, ki so marincem pomagale. These gunships pounded Iraqi positions and columns that were again moving south to reinforce their positions north of the city. Aircraft #69-6567, call sign Spirit 03, elected to remain on station during the early morning hours of 31 January 1991, to provide further fire support to the Marines. Unfortunately, Spirit 03 was shot down by a surface to air missile (SAM) and all 14 crew members perished. During the retreat of the Iraqi Army from Kuwait, one AC- I30 gunship provided air cover for Kuwait International Airport. The remainder of DESERT STORM saw the gunships flying airborne alert. On 27 May 1991, the remaining gunships in Saudi Arabia returned to home station at Hurlburt Field.

In 1992, the gunships found themselves on a humanitarian mission in support of Operation PROVIDE HOPE, to quell the unrest in Somalia. After their initial support, several gunships were redeployed to Italy to maintain a force for Operation DENY FLIGHT, where they still maintain a detachment. In late 1993, another contingent was again deployed to Kenya in an effort to bolster US presence in Somalia.

A major milestone was reached in 1994. The acceptance of new, from the ground up, gunships is underway. The first AC-130U aircraft arrived in early 1994! It is the result of years of work to develop an airframe for the purpose of being a gunship, rather than converting an airframe designed for a different purpose, to the gunship configuration. If it’s anything like its predecessors, we will be reading about its extraordinary activities in the various "hot spots" of the world for the next twenty years!

As with any activity, you accrue some costs. During Operation CONTINUE HOPE, the cost was eight men who paid the ultimate price. Spectre experienced it first non-combat casualties on 14 March 1994. Jockey 14 experienced a catastrophic failure while firing a 105mm cannon off the coast of Kenya. The aircraft crash landed within sight of shore. Three members parachuted to safety and were picked up, and three other members survived the crash landing. One member perished at sea after bailout and seven members died from the impact of crash landing.

RECENTLY IN SPECTRE HISTORY :

24 May 69: The40th Anniversary of the loss of AC 629 and Spectre’s Cecil Taylor and Jack Troglen. Let's not forget the first Spectre's combat fatalities.

On 15 May 1975, crews from the 16th SOS stationed at Korat AB flew missions in support of the rescue of the U.S. merchant ship, S.S. Mayaguez. The operation began on 12 May when the Mayaguez was seized by the Cambodian navy about 100 miles off the coast of Cambodia in International waters. The ship was taken to Koh Tang Island and the crew (our intel was unaware) had been taken to the Cambodian mainland. Spectre had at least 2 aircraft orbiting the Island 24/7 from the time it was seized. The rescue attempt for the crew (that was NOT on Koh Tang Island) began on in the early morning hours of 15 May. The fierce battle continued into the early evening with several Jolly Greens shot down and many Jolly crew members and Marines wounded or KIA. Anyone involved in the operation should check out www.kohtang.com , a website set up by the Marines on Koh Tang who owe their survival to the surgical application of firepower by the "Fabulous Four-Engine Fighter"!! Just another date in Spectre history!!

21. aprila 1970 - the anniversary of Gunship 54-1625 The Warlord while truck hunting along the southern portion of the Ho Chi Minh trail, in Laos. While strafing the trucks, the AC-130 Gunship, from the 16th SOS, was hit by 37 mm AAA, catching fire. Ten crewmen were listed as KIA. Staff Sergeant E. Fields was the only survivor.

24 April 1980 - 29 years ago - crews from the 16th SOS were deployed in support of Operation "Desert One". Five members of the 8'th SOS and three Marines perished in the desert of Iran.

Great Detailed Gunship Bit of History

In History March 27, '69 : Then Major Charlie Spicka was scheduled for a routine AC-130A Spectre Gunship Interdiction mission over the Trails in Laos on March 27, '69. On that mission, a 37 MM round hit their Gunship in the right horizontal stabilizer. The aircraft was recovered safely to Ubon.

Charlie was one of the first twelve pilots to complete the Gunship training course in September '68 at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. Following Jungle Survival Training at Clark AB, P.I., Charlie and the others arrived at Ubon AB, Thai as members of the newly established 16th SOS under the 8th TFW Wing who flew missions in the F-4 Phantom. A sign over the 16th SOS Sqdn. Ops. read: "The Fabulous Four Engine Fighters of the Wolfpack". [The 8th TFW]


Here's a photo of one of the first four AC-130A Gunships. AC-130A's had four 20 MM Vulcans & four 7.62 miniguns. The Unit lost 6 aircraft from 1969 until the end of the war.


AC-130A #54-1629

The mission Charlie flew on March 27, 1969 was in Gunship # 53-3129 which is known as the "First Lady" as it was the first production Lockheed C-130 accepted by the USAF. The "First Lady" is now on static display at the Eglin Armament Museum near Eglin AFB, Florida.

About 2 hrs. into the five hour mission as the aircraft entered into its "pylon geometry" attack pattern one of the numerous 37 MM AAA rounds struck the aircraft in the tail. A crew of 14 were aboard that night, 6 Officers and 8 Enlisted.

The aircraft shuddered violently when it was struck, but it was flyable as they headed to Ubon with an
F-4 escort above.

After landing safely and shutting down, everyone had a look at the damage inflicted by the 37 MM round that hit then. Here's a Mar. 27, '69 photo of Maj. Charlie Spicka taking a closer look.

This was the third hit by AAA fire Charlie got while flying in the month of March 1969. The 16th SOS Commander told Charlie to go to Bangkok for a three day R&R as the joke in the squadron was that Charlie couldn't get a crew together. Some even referred to Charlie as "Old Magnet Ass".

Charlie completed his one year combat tour in October 1969 and he was posted to the Pentagon as the Air Staff Point-of-Contact for Gunship Operations in AF/XOOSO, Special Ops.

Charlie successfully found funding for modification of the Gunship fleet with new sensors and improved armament to include the 40 MM Bofors Cannon and 105 MM Howitzer. In 1971, Charlie suggested a buy of more Fixed-wing Gunships. The USAF finally agreed to modify eleven -130E aircraft with the upgraded AC-130 Spectre Gunship configuration.

Charlie Spicka departed the Pentagon in July 1973 for a tour in the UK. Charlie retired as an 0-6 at USAFE Hqtrs. in 1984 and he now lives in Oceanside, Calif. with his wife, Carole.


Evolution of the Air Force’s AC-130 Gunship

A Lockheed AC-130U gunship from the 4th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field in Florida jettisons flares during a training mission. The flares are a countermeasure against heat-seeking missiles fired at the airplane.

Based on Lockheed’s four-engine turboprop transport and weaponized by Boeing, the deadly AC-130 “aerial battleship” had very humble beginnings.

Since its debut during the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force’s AC-130 gunship has played an integral role in close air support, air interdiction and force protection provided to U.S. ground troops. This includes not only close support of troops under fire and defending air bases, but also escorting convoys, specialized urban operations and interdiction missions conducted against preplanned targets. To accomplish these missions the gunship’s weaponry and electronic sophistication have evolved exponentially over the years.

The gunship program began in 1964 when U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam were in dire need of night firepower in their fight against localized attacks by Communist insurgents on the fortified hamlets and military outposts in the Mekong Delta. The gunship idea originated with an informal suggestion by a staff officer in the 1st Combat Applications Group, sister organization to the 1st Air Commando Wing based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He suggested evaluating side-firing guns mounted in an aircraft that could circle its target at a constant airspeed at its pivotal altitude, putting continuous fire on the target as long as desired. (Pivotal altitude is based on ground speed and allows the target to remain fixed in place along a line parallel to the lateral axis of the aircraft.)


Douglas FC-47D tail no. 0-48579—the original “Puff the Magic Dragon”—carried three 7.62mm GE miniguns in makeshift mounts. (Letalstvo ZDA)

The idea was presented to the commander of the Special Air Warfare Center, Brig. Gen. Gilbert L. Pritchard, who immediately liked it. He had a Douglas C-47 transport modified with a .50-caliber M2 machine gun mounted on the floor by the left-side cargo door, pointing out parallel to the wing. Pritchard then piloted the C-47 out over the Gulf of Mexico and circled one of the raft targets maintained by Eglin’s Armament Development Division. Flying at 120 knots at the airplane’s 3,000-foot pivotal altitude, and using grease pencil crosshairs on the left-side window pane as a gunsight, he tried shooting at the raft. He had no problem hitting the target and reportedly had a ball in the process. Upon landing he made the gunship program a top-priority development project for the 1st Combat Applications Group.

The first fully modified C-47s were equipped with three 7.62mm General Electric miniguns—one in the cargo door and two mounted in the left-side rear windows. All three guns were triggered by a button on the pilot’s control yoke and could be fired individually or simultaneously.

The C-47 gunship could fly for hours in a counterclockwise orbit over a target area. A three-second burst from its miniguns provided suppressing fire over an elliptical area approximately 52 yards in diameter, with a round placed every 2.4 yards. The gunships also carried flares that were manually dropped to illuminate the area. The combination proved devastating.

Under the leadership of Captain Ron W. Terry from Air Force Systems Command, the project reached fruition on December 11, 1964, with the introduction of the FC-47. Operating with the call sign “Puff” (short for “Puff the Magic Dragon”), the gunship had its first significant success on the night of December 23 when it flew in support of a Special Forces outpost in the Mekong Delta that was under Viet Cong attack. The FC-47 arrived and illuminated the area with flares, then fired 4,500 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, breaking up the VC attack. The aircraft was then called to assist a second threatened outpost about 20 miles away. Once again, the FC-47 blunted the assault and forced the VC to retreat.

All of the gunships’ combat sorties that Decem­ber proved successful. Then on February 8, 1965, an FC-47, flying for more than four hours over the Bong Son area in the Central Highlands, expended 20,500 rounds of 7.62 ammo at VC manning hilltop positions, killing an estimated 300 enemy troops.


With its armament of twin 40mm cannons and a pair of 20mm rotary guns, this Spectre awaits its next mission in a revetment at Thailand’s Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base. (Letalstvo ZDA)

To decrease vulnerability and increase munitions capability, the renamed AC-47 Spooky gunship concept pioneered in Project Gunship I was applied to a Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport. In 1967 JC-130A serial no. 54-1626 was converted to prototype AC-130A under Project Gunship II. New equipment included a night-vision telescope installed in the forward door and an early forward-looking infrared device mounted in the left wheel well. The miniguns were fixed facing down and aft along the left side. A prototype analog fire-control computer, handcrafted by Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Thomas C. Pinkerton at the USAF Avionics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, was also installed. In September 1967 the AC-130, call sign Spectre, was flown to Nha Trang Air Base in South Vietnam for a 90-day test program. It was an immediate success and in 1968 seven more airplanes were converted to the same configuration.

Despite the Spectre’s increased capability and awesome firepower, it’s difficult to believe what some brave American airmen experienced in that first iteration of the AC-130 gunship. The best description of its combat employment comes from Master Sgt. David M. Burns, who was assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron, based at Ubon Royal Thai AFB in Thailand, as a replacement aerial gunner during the “Palace Gun” program. When he joined the squadron in December 1969 there were six aircraft assigned to the program, each manned with a normal 11- or 12-man crew: pilot, copilot, flight engineer, table navigator, night-observation device operator, right scanner, forward gunner, aft gunner, two sensor operators, illuminator (IO) and a combat cameraman. “Each had a specific job and they all depended on each other for their very survival,” wrote Burns.

His description of the gunship’s armament and the duties of his fellow crewmen shows how primitive those first few AC-130As were. The aircraft were painted all black for their night missions. Armament included four 20mm rotary cannons and four 7.62mm miniguns mounted in portals along the left side. In attack mode they would orbit the target in a 30-degree left bank, with the pilot varying their altitude to complicate the enemy’s anti-aircraft solution.


4th Special Operations Squadron crewmen operate an AC-130U’s 105mm gun. (Letalstvo ZDA)

In describing operations, Burns told of one very large technical sergeant, 6-foot-5-inch Arthur Humphrey, who had been in the squadron for only a few months but was already a legend. Among his jobs as an IO was to hang out from the aircraft’s rear cargo door and drop flares when the pilot called for them. With his parachute harness attached by a cable hooked to the top of the aircraft interior, “he always hung out farther than other IOs.”

Humphrey was also tasked with calling out anti-aircraft fire directed at the aircraft. “On one mission he yelled ‘Accurate triple-A, break right!’” recalled Burns. “To escape the fire the pilot broke violently hard right and Arthur fell out of the aircraft. As he was hanging out of the aircraft by the cable he called on the ship’s intercom to the pilot and dutifully asked for permission to come aboard! The pilot quickly told him to get his big ass back in the aircraft….”

The Hercules gunship proved so effective as a truck-killer and in armed reconnaissance and interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh trail that the Air Force had difficulty keeping up with demand for an airplane that also provided vital troop and cargo transport. Thus, with a stock of Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar airframes available in the Air Force Reserve, in February 1968 Fairchild-Hiller converted 26 C-119Gs to AC-119Gs—call sign Shadow—under Project Gunship III. Their equipment included some of the most up-to-date electronic countermeasures and radar technology plus four GAU-2A/A 7.62mm miniguns and an LAU-74/A flare launcher.

Concurrently, another 26 C-119Gs were converted to AC-119Ks, referred to as Stingers. To boost the aircraft’s gross-weight-carrying capability the two piston engines were supplemented with underwing-mounted General Electric J85 turbojets. Designed specifically for the truck hunter role, the Stingers were equipped with two M61 Vulcan 20mm cannons in addition to the four miniguns already on the AC-119Gs. Both models eventually were taken over by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force until the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Today’s AC-130 gunships can best be described as cutting-edge in both weapons and electronic sophistication. The two primary versions still in use are the AC-130W Stinger II and AC-130J Ghostrider, which recently joined the fleet. The improved AC-130J, Block 20, is powered by four 4,700-hp Rolls-Royce turboprops, giving it a speed of 362 knots at 22,000 feet. Equipped with a Precision Strike Package, its armament includes an internal 30mm MK44 cannon and a trainable M102 105mm howitzer (first used in a Spectre in 1972 over Vietnam), combined with the capability to carry GBU-39 guided bombs and wing-mounted AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.


An AC-130H from the 16th Special Operations Squadron heads out on another mission. (Letalstvo ZDA)

The Ghostrider’s electronic equipment includes a laser range finder, low-light TV camera, crew night-vision capability, night-vision radar and a moving-target indicator. The Block 20 configuration also includes large-aircraft infrared and radio frequency countermeasures. Like the MC-130J Commando II on which it is based, the Ghostrider has inflight refueling capability.

The Air Force reported that the first six AC-130Js achieved initial operational capability on September 30, 2017. The Ghostrider flew its first combat mission in late June 2019 over Afghanistan, replacing the retired AC-130U. Meanwhile, there are plans to replace the 30mm cannon of a few Ghostriders with a laser-like directed-energy weapon that could be used to engage ships, vehicles, aircraft and control towers. The Air Force currently has 37 AC-130Js ordered and they are expected to reach full operational capability by 2025.

Gunships have come a long way since the first FC-47 took to the skies more than 55 years ago. In essence they have become very effective and indispensable aerial battleships.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Lowery is a Korean and Vietnam war veteran. For further reading, try: Spectre Gunner: The AC-130 Gunship, by Master Sgt. David M. Burns and Gunships: The Story of Spooky, Shadow, Stinger and Spectre, by Wayne Mutza.

This feature originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here!


History of the C-130

Operated by more than 70 Air Forces and civilian users, the Hercules is the military aircraft with the longest and continuous production run in history. Its origin dates back to the Korean War.

Source: @bens_aviation_photography

The birth of the C-130

When the USA entered the Korean War, the United States Air Force realized that they needed a highly capable cargo aircraft, which would be able to land on short and unprepared runways amongst a range of other things. To fill this need, the Air Force Tactical Air Command opened a tender for a medium airlifter in 1951. Nine companies proposed their projects, and Lockheed’s proposal was chosen. Two YC-130 prototypes were built, and the first flight occurred three years later at Burbank’s Lockheed facility. Eventually, Lockheed won a production contract.

The newborn C-130A Hercules entered service in 1956. The aircraft featured four Allison T56 turboprop engines with the distinctive three-bladed propellers. Two external underwing tanks were added to increase range. Later variants of the Hercules (excluding the J version) moved to the four-bladed propellers, and many of them still fly today.

Combat action and operational history

The first Hercules crash occurred in 1958 when four Soviet MiG-17s shot down a C-130A over Armenia during a reconnaissance mission.

In 1953 the C-130 Hercules became the largest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier. This record was achieved by a USMC KC-130, which made 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested landings and 21 unassisted take-offs on USS Forrestal.

Source: US Navy

In 1964 USAF C-130s were deployed to Vietnam, where C-130s from 6315th Operations Group flew Forward Air Control missions in support of USAF bombers that were participating in strike missions over Laos during the early years of Vietnam War. Hercs were also used in reconnaissance missions and to deliver chemicals to affect the enemy’s transport lines. A total of seventy C-130 were lost by the US Air Force and the US Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.

Source: US Air Force

The first AC-130 Spectre Gunships from 16th Special Operations Wing arrived in Vietnam in 1967 and provided ground attack and Close Air Support missions against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong. These heavily armed Hercs were equipped with miniguns, rotary cannons and even a 105mm cannon. During the Vietnam War, a total of six gunships were lost due to enemy fire.

Master Sgt. Jacob Mercer (left) prepares to load a 105mm howitzer cannon onboard an AC-130. | Source: US Air Force

In 1968 C-130s from the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing were used to drop bombs to clear helicopter landing zones in Vietnam. Meanwhile, on another continent in 1964, USAF C-130s made the history in the Operation Dragon Rouge, dropping and airlifting a group of Belgian paratroopers over the Belgian Congo to rescue hostages held by Simba rebels.

In 1969, a USAF C-130 parachute-dropped two sensors near a Chinese nuclear facility to collect data about Chinese atomic capabilities.

C-130s also conducted resupply and attack missions in the invasion of Afghanistan and, two years later, of Iraq.

The aircraft also play an important role in containing natural disasters, dropping oil dispersant over large oil spills and launching water and retardant to fight fires. In 2017 C-130s sprayed mosquito control liquids over bodies of water in Texas created by Hurricane Harvey.

Water Bombing Training | Source: 302nd Airlift Wing

Interestingly, a former RAF C-130 served as a testbed for the engines of its European competitor the A400.

The most versatile aircraft ever?

The C-130 is produced in many variants for different types of missions these are the most relevant:

  • AC-130: a gunship variant of the Hercules: the latest version can accommodate a 30mm autocannon and a 105mm howitzer cannon, as well as guided missiles and bombs
  • C-130: the traditional airframe, it shares most of its features with the other variants. These include: a loading ramp and door, a 12.5 meters cargo compartment that can carry 90 troopers or 634 paratroopers, as well as utility helicopters and armoured vehicles
  • C-130-30: a stretched version of the Hercules, with improved cargo compartment
  • EC-130: electronic warfare variant of the Hercules
  • HC-130: Search And Rescue variant of the Hercules, mainly operated by the US Coast Guard
  • KC-130: Hercules with aerial refuelling capabilities
  • LC-130: Hercules capable of landing on ice and snow thanks to skis. LC-130s regularly fly to Greenland and Antarctica
  • MC-130: multi-mission aircraft, designed for infiltration, exfiltration, aerial refuelling and reconnaissance mission
  • PC-130: Maritime Patrol variant of the Hercules
  • RC-130: reconnaissance aircraft
  • WC-130: weather reconnaissance aircraft, capable of hurricane-hunting
  • YC-130: the first prototype of the Hercules
  • L-100: civilian variant of the C-130, operated by seven cargo companies.

No other aircraft in the world can accomplish all these missions, thus allowing the C-130 to have the title of most versatile aircraft ever.

Source: @anthony_fogarty_aviation


It can be said without fear of contradiction that the C-130 Hercules is one of the most important aircraft in aviation history.

Since its first flight in 1954, the Hercules has been everywhere and done just about anything. Aircrews have flown it to both poles, landed or airdropped military supplies to hot spots from Vietnam to Afghanistan and performed countless relief operations around the globe. The Hercules has been used to drop bombs, retrieve satellites in midair, conduct reconnaissance and attack ground targets with cannons. Some models are flown as commercial transports. The C-130 has the longest, continuous military aircraft production run in history and one of the top three longest, continuous aircraft production lines of any type.

As told by Joseph Earl Dabney in his book Herk: Hero of the Skies, when one reviews the encyclopedic range of accomplishments by the C-130 Hercules and its valiant aircrews over the years, surely one of the most astounding took place in October 1963 when the US Navy decided to try to land a Hercules on an aircraft carrier. Was it possible? Who would believe that the big, four-engine C-130 with its bulky fuselage and 132-foot wing span could land on the deck of a carrier?

Not only was it possible, it was done in moderately rough seas 500 miles out in the North Atlantic off the coast of Boston. In so doing, the airplane became the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier, a record that stands to this day.

When Lt. James H. Flatley III was told about his new assignment, he thought somebody was pulling his leg. “Operate a C-130 off an aircraft carrier? Somebody’s got to be kidding,” he said. But they weren’t kidding. In fact, the Chief of Naval Operations himself had ordered a feasibility study on operating the big propjet aboard the Norfolk-based USS Forrestal (CVA-59). The Navy was trying to find out whether they could use the Hercules as a “Super COD” – a “Carrier Onboard Delivery” aircraft. The airplane then used for such tasks was the Grumman C-1 Trader, a twin piston-engine bird with a limited payload capacity and 300-mile range. If an aircraft carrier is operating in mid-ocean, it has no “onboard delivery” system to fall back on and must come nearer land before taking aboard even urgently needed items. The Hercules was stable and reliable, with a long cruising range and capable of carrying large payloads.

The aircraft, a KC-130F refueler transport (BuNo 149798), on loan from the U.S. Marines, was delivered on Oct. 8. Lockheed’s only modifications to the original plane included installing a smaller nose-landing gear orifice, an improved anti-skid braking system, and removal of the underwing refueling pods. “The big worry was whether we could meet the maximum sink rate of nine feet per second,” Flatley said. As it turned out, the Navy was amazed to find they were able to better this mark by a substantial margin.

In addition to Flatley, the crew consisted of Lt.Cmdr. W.W. Stovall, copilot ADR-1 E.F. Brennan, flight engineer and Lockheed engineering flight test pilot Ted H. Limmer, Jr. The initial sea-born landings on Oct. 30, 1963 were made into a 40-knot wind. Altogether, the crew successfully negotiated 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs at gross weights of 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds. At 85,000 pounds, the KC-130F came to a complete stop within 267 feet, about twice the aircraft’s wing span! The Navy was delighted to discover that even with a maximum payload, the plane used only 745 feet for takeoff and 460 feet for landing roll. The short landing roll resulted from close coordination between Flatley and Jerry Daugherty, the carrier’s landing signal officer. Daugherty, later to become a captain and assigned to the Naval Air Systems Command, gave Flatley an engine “chop” while still three or four feet off the deck.

Lockheed’s Ted Limmer, who checked out fighter pilot Flatley in the C-130, stayed on for some of the initial touch-and-go and full-stop landings. “The last landing I participated in, we touched down about 150 feet from the end, stopped in 270 feet more and launched from that position, using what was left of the deck. We still had a couple hundred feet left when we lifted off. Admiral Brown was flabbergasted.”

The plane’s wingspan cleared the Forrestal’s flight deck “island” control tower by just under 15 feet as the plane roared down the deck on a specially painted line. Lockheed’s chief engineer, Art E. Flock was aboard to observe the testing. “The sea was pretty big that day. I was up on the captain’s bridge. I watched a man on the ship’s bow as that bow must have gone up and down 30 feet.” The speed of the ship was increased 10 knots to reduce yaw motion and to reduce wind direction. Thus, when the plane landed, it had a 40 to 50 knot wind on the nose. “That airplane stopped right opposite the captain’s bridge,” recalled Flock. “There was cheering and laughing. There on the side of the fuselage, a big sign had been painted on that said, “LOOK MA, NO HOOK.”

From the accumulated test data, the Navy concluded that with the C-130 Hercules, it would be possible to lift 25,000 pounds of cargo 2,500 miles and land it on a carrier. Even so, the idea was considered a bit too risky for the C-130 and the Navy elected to use a smaller COD aircraft. For his effort, the Navy awarded Flatley the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The following video is the original footage of the KC-130 tests conducted aboard the USS Forrestal.


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