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The C-130 Hercules

When you hear the word Hercules, you may think of the Roman mythological hero, the one that was extremely strong and could carry heavy things. That describes the C-130 Hercules perfectly. It's one of the oldest aircraft in production, over 40 years! That proves just how strong and reliable the C-130 is.

The first prototype of the C-130 was the YC-130 that was tested in California in 1954. "They were trying to get the best possible airframe/power plant combination." (qtd. in Dabney, 92). During the first stage of production, the YC-130 had many small problems that were quickly fixed after test flights. A very large problem was the Engine/Propeller system. During test flights the propellers kept coming apart. They couldn't find a propeller that would fit the YC-130's very specific needs. "Some experts thought the whole program would fold." (qtd. in Dabney, 96).

Finally, they found a hydraulic propeller that would work and installed these on the "A" models. By the time they were making "B's", they were putting on a different kind. The Hamilton-Standard hydraulic propeller was settled upon. A test pilot named Ned Grant said, "It's a dream compared to present transports." (qtd. in Dabney, 95).

In 1980 there were 53 American hostages being held in Tehran, Iran. The government planned an ingenious plan. They would install different size rockets on various places on the C-130. With these rockets the C-130 could make extremely short take-off's and landings. So short that the government said it could land, then take-off again in a distance shorter than the length of a soccer field, without backing up, with room to spare.

They tested this plane and it worked well with the exception of one crash in which no one was hurt. While en route to Tehran for operation "Eagle Claw" one of the C-130's helicopter escorts collided with the C-130 in midair bringing them both down. There were eight servicemen killed and they never carried out the operation. The hostages were eventually released though.

MC-130 Combat Talons - The purpose of these are to provide airlift globally, day, night, and in adverse weather. All thirty-eight of these that belong to the AFSOC have helicopter refueling capabilities. Some even have a Fulton Recovery System and terrain-following radar.

AC-130 Spectre - This C-130 is specially equipped with a twin 20mm Vulcan Canon, 40mm Bofors Canon, 105mm Howitzer, and a 25mm Gatling Gun. All of these are on the left side of the aircraft so that it can circle over the enemy and keep shooting. This is used for close air support, armed reconnaissance, or air base defense. "They all have low-light television cameras, infared targeting acquisition, and ECM systems." (qtd. in "The C-130 Hercules"). These have been used in Vietnam, Urgent Fury, Just Cause, Desert Storm, and United Shield. All twenty belong to the United States Air Force.

HC-130 Combat Shadow - These are for in-flight refueling of helicopters in a low, to no-threat environment. All but eight have electronic counter measure systems. They also perform rescue operations for the USAF and USCG. Half of the twenty-eight have receptacles. They all belong to the United States Air Force.

LC-130 - These are specially equipped with wheel/ski modification. So instead of wheels it has skids so it can be used in Arctic regions. All of these planes belong to the ANG/NSF

EC-130 - "All of the EC-130's have airborne psychological broadcasting for wartime and humanitarian action." (qtd. in The C-130 Hercules). They can block radio transmissions so the enemy cannot communicate. ANG's 193rd SOW has six of these. One more, the L-100. L-100 - The L-100 is the civilian version of the C-130. It debuted in April of 1964. It is mostly just like the military aircraft.

The C-130 debuted on August 23, 1954. They have been used in over 60 countries around the world for paratroop operations, landing on dirt and unimproved runways, aerial delivery of cargo, medical evacuation, assault transport, humanitarian relief missions, fire fighting, even bomb delivery. The United Stated Air Force has 310. Air National Guard has 225 and the Air Force Reserve has 135.

When the Air Force realized that they needed a new transport in 1951, they wanted on large enough to carry large amounts of cargo, and yet small enough to be able to land where other plane cannot. The Hercules is designed to land on short, unprepared runways, and sometimes even aircraft carriers! It's the largest plane ever to land a carrier. As one person put it "Herk: hero of the skies." (qtd. in Dabney, 1).

Crew Jobs:

The crew members have completely different jobs on the aircraft. A typical crew consists of a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, engineer, and a load-master.

Pilot - The one pretty much in charge of the aircraft. His job is pretty much self-explanatory. He flies the airplane which includes taking-off, getting from point A to point B, then safely landing.

Co-pilot - The co-pilot helps the pilot fly the aircraft sitting in the right seat. He has his own set of controls and can fly if something were to happen to the pilot. He is also in charge of all radio communications.

Navigator - The navigator's job is also pretty much self-explanatory. He tells the pilot and co- pilot how to get from point A to point B. He has and uses all of the maps. He is also trained to navigate from the stars.

Engineer - The engineer watches over the aircraft to make sure nothing goes wrong. He watches the dials and everything up front to alert the pilot if anything is not right. He also occasionally looks out the window to see if the wings are okay.

Loadmaster - The loadmasters' job is pretty much on the ground getting the cargo on and off of the aircraft. He has to make sure the cargo is loaded correctly and securely. Sometimes, if they aren't getting in the way, the other crew members will help him. And what does he do in the air? He occasionally checks the cargo to make sure it's secure. What does he do the rest of the time? It's up to him. He can read, do paperwork, or even catch some Z's before they land.

The C-130 is one of the most important transport airplanes ever. In this page is important information and facts about the C-130 Hercules. Just to summarize, it's the airplane that's been in production the longest, which is proof that it is strong and reliable. "No one could do without it." (qtd. in Dabney, 91).

General Characteristics:
Primary Function - Intratheater airlift.
Contractor - Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems.
Power Plant - 4 Allison T56-A-15 Turboprops; 4,300 horsepower each.
Length - 97 feet, 9 inches.
Height - 38 feet, 3 inches.
Wingspan - 132 feet, 7 inches.
Speed - 374 mph at 20,000 feet.
Ceiling - 33,000 feet with 100,000 pounds payload.
Crew - Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, engineer, and loadmaster.
Payload - 92 troops, 64 paratroops.
Maximum takeoff weight - 155,000 pounds.
Range - 2,356 miles with maximum payload, 2,500 miles with 25,000 pounds, 5,200 miles empty.
Unit cost - $22.9 million (1992)

Dabney, Joseph E. Herk: Hero of the Skies. Marietta: Lorin Corporation, 1986.
Cook, Nick. "How ‘Credible Sport' made SuperSTOL a reality." Janes Defense Weekly 5 March 1997: 18.
"C-130 Facts and Information." .
"The C-130 Hercules." .
Brands, Ralph E. Personal Interview. 24 Nov, 1997.

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