The development of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules arose out of the need for a replacement for the Fairchild C-119/R4Q "Flying Boxcar" cargo/troop transport. The Boxcar was manufactured from 1948 to 1953 and had proved inadequate for the needs of the Far East Air Forces Combat Cargo Command during the Korean War. It was under-powered and little better than earlier C-82s, C-46s and C-47s. Early in 1951, the USAF Tactical Air Command issued a specification to the aircraft manufacturing industry for a new medium cargo transport. The new aircraft was to be capable of slowing to 125 knots, dropping heavy loads by parachute, landing on short/unimproved combat air strips, suitable for assault transport operations, and able to carry single items weighing up to 30,000 lb. (or 90 paratroops) over a 2,000-mile range.
The Museum’s Lockheed Hercules C-130A-45-LM, AF Serial No. 57-460, Mfg. Ser. No 3167, is representative of the first production version of C-130s. It has a distinguised history or service with the USAF and a unique history as a member of Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF)--transferred to them in 1972, later escaping to Thailand in 1975.
Transferred from the United States Air Force
Four engine (Allison T56-A-7A turboprop), cantilever, high-wing, monoplane; medium / long range, combat transport (tactical airlift); crew of four: Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, systems manager; 1955- present.
The development of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules arose out of the need for a replacement for the Fairchild C-119/R4Q "Flying Boxcar" cargo/troop transport. The Boxcar was manufactured from 1948 to 1953 and had proved inadequate for the needs of the Far East Air Forces Combat Cargo Command during the Korean War. It was under-powered and little better than earlier C-82s, C-46s and C-47s.
Early in 1951, the USAF Tactical Air Command issued a specification to the aircraft manufacturing industry for a new medium cargo transport. The new aircraft was to be capable of slowing to 125 knots, dropping heavy loads by parachute, landing on short/unimproved combat air strips, suitable for assault transport operations, and able to carry single items weighing up to 30,000 lb. (or 90 paratroops) over a 2,000-mile range.
Proposals were received from Boeing, Douglas, Fairchild, and Lockheed. Lockheed won the competition and was awarded a contract on 2 July 1951 for two YC-130 prototypes, which were built at its Burbank, California, plant. The first production C-130A-LM (C/N 182-3001, Serial. 53-3129) flew at Marietta, Georgia, on 7 April 1955. It was similar to the prototypes but featured a revised nose, four powerful Allison T56-A-lA turbo-prop engines, each delivering 3,750 hp. and driving a three-bladed Curtiss-Wright electric-reversible propeller. An early problem developed with the propeller pitch-changing mechanism that was corrected by adopting a hydraulic model, and eventually, a four-bladed Hamilton Standard propeller. The C-130 was not a giant-sized aircraft by the standards of its time, but it had a large capacity. It could maintain a cruising speed of 365 mph at an altitude of at least 35,000 feet, as well as fulfilling the specified low landing speed and short-field capability.
The first operational unit to take delivery of the C-130A-LM was the 815th Troop Carrier Squadron, 463rd Troop Carrier Wing at Ardmore AFB, Oklahoma, in December 1956. This version of the C-130 was subsequently delivered in numbers to the 314th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW) of the 322nd Air Division in France, and the 483rd in Japan.
Even before the C-130A entered service, engineering work had begun on variants to perform special tasks. Eventually these totaled some forty different models but none strayed far from the basic design. One thing that has kept the C-130 in the forefront for these many years since its birth has been its continual improvement and adaptation of its basic design. Increased range, speed, load-carrying capacity, versatility (including a ski plane derivative) were built. The Navy had a unique version featuring skis located beneath the standard wheel undercarriage (both retractable) which was designated the LC-130F. Not only did all the U.S. services use the versatile C-130, but commercial airlines (as the L-100 type) and some 46 foreign air forces also found a use for this aircraft. It is still in great demand as a workhorse and for specialized tasks.
The C-130 has had a long, unbroken record of successes in military, humanitarian, and commercial endeavors. C-l30s were utilized in the daring Israeli raid on Entebbe. While not as spectacular but nonetheless vital after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam were the C-130 operations of the Vietnam Air Force (VNAF). As part of operation Enhance Plus, thirty-two C-130As were quickly withdrawn from ANG squadrons in the U.S. and delivered to South Vietnam in November 1972. By April 1975, when South Vietnam collapsed, three C-103As had been lost; nineteen others had been flown to Thailand, and North Vietnam captured thirteen.
The Museum's Lockheed Hercules C-130A-45-LM, AF Serial No. 57-460, Mfg. Ser. No. 3167, is representative of the first production version of C-130s. It has a distinguished history of service with the USAF and a unique history as a member of Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF)-to which it was transferred in 1972, later escaping to Thailand in 1975.
The aircraft was accepted at Selfridge AFB, Michigan, on March 11, 1958. By August it was assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Wing Medium stationed in France. A number of duty stations followed which included Madrid, Spain; Langley AFB, Virginia; Lockbourne AFB, Ohio; Warner Robins, Georgia; Naha, Okinawa; Richards-Gebaur, Missouri; and Selfridge, Michigan. Periodic Depot Maintenance at was carried out at Hayes Aircraft Corporation and at Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Units (CAMs).
The aircraft served with the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) from October 1972 to August 8, 1975. It was also assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) Korat AFB, Thailand, some time after its escape from Vietnam to Singapore in April 1975. When returned to USAF, the aircraft had flown more than 9,500 hours.
While the aircraft's specific records are missing for the VNAF period, assigned C-130s were known to have participated in re-supply and bombing missions in support of ARVN outposts. At some time the Museum's aircraft was assigned to the VNAF 435th Squadron. The "Herkys," as they were then known, were a valuable asset to the VNAF, despite their small numbers. The C-130As were the largest and heaviest load-carrying aircraft in the VNAF inventory. As the enemy advanced southward, they were used extensively in the evacuation of northern cities. By January 1975 the ground situation had deteriorated drastically. On the night of 24 March 1975, the Deputy Commander of VNAF ordered the evacuation of ground support people from Da Nang to Tan Son Nhut at Saigon. One of the evacuation aircraft that participated in that operation can be assumed to be Serial No. 57-460, now the Museum's Hercules.
A co-pilot 1st Lt. Pham-Quang-Khiem in the 435th Squadron tells of a hair-raising incident of one such C-130 evacuation flight when he had loaded what was thought to be 200 marines, army, civilians, as well as families of VNAF. In the loading confusion, people continued to jam into the aircraft, eventually making it impossible to raise the loading ramp for take-off. The pilot solved this problem by fast taxiing and then jamming on the brakes. It was effective and on arrival he observed the cargo as a "compressed mass" of humanity. The best he could figure was that there were about 350 people on board.
That flight and the panic that Lt. Khiem saw in Da Nang caused him to consider that if this was likely to happen in Saigon, he would steal a C-130 and get his own family out. This soon became a reality and with the help of a best friend, Major Nguyen Huu Canh, in a sister squadron, the 437th, a complicated plan was developed. On 3 April 1975, with much good fortune, the plan was executed. After a wild series of events including a landing to pick up the family at Long Thanh (an abandoned air strip) they landed in Singapore at 7 p.m. with his entire family, except his brother who was in the Army, stationed at Vung Tau. This stolen airplane was the Museum's C-130 Serial No. 57-460 then assigned to the 435th, Lt. Khiem's squadron.
By February 1976, after 57-460 rejoined the USAF, this veteran C-130 was assigned to the 924th Tactical Airlift Group at Ellington AFB, Texas, and then to the ANG 927th Tactical Airlift Group at Selfridge. During the next thirteen years until its transfer to the National Air and Space Museum, the aircraft resumed its duties with Tactical Airlift Groups/Wings and Squadrons (primarily the 927th Tactical Airlift Group, with occasional maintenance and repair at Hayes International Corporation and the Aero Corp, Lake City, Florida). By 1987, C-130 Serial No. 57-460 was assigned to the 95th Tactical Airlift Squadron, AFRES, Mitchell Field, Wisconsin. When finally delivered by the 95th Tactical Airlift Squadron to the Museum on January 30, 1989, it had flown 14,272 hours. It resides in outdoor storage at Washington's Dulles International Airport as part of the National Air and Space Museum Aircraft Collection.
Wingspan: 132' 5"
Length: 97' 8"
Height: 38' 5"
Weight: Empty, equipped 63,000 Lbs.
Reference and Further Reading:
Lockheed C-130A-45-LM Hercules curatorial file, Aeronautics Division, National Air and Space Museum.