Right from the beginning, in 1965 when the C-141A debuted, people knew that it would make history. It was the world's first jet-powered airlifter which gave it unique capabilities that no plane had ever had before.
The C-141 has many "firsts" attributed to its' name. Some of these are the first plane to land in Antarctica, the first plane in which Army paratroopers jumped from, and it set a record when a C-141B flew 67, 000 pounds of cargo from New Jersey to Saudi Arabia non-stop in 1981 with only 3 in-flight refuelings.
While the C-141A was changing the ways that people transported goods, some thought that it was not good enough. So they developed the C-141B, which was merely a stretched C-141A with refueling capabilities. They stretched the plane 23 ft. 4 in., effectively increasing the cargo bay area by 30%. Also, by adding the refueling capabilities, they greatly increased the abilities of this already legendary plane. A C-141B can receive 23,592 gallons in just 26 min. while in-air. The upgrade from "A's" to "B's" was completed in 1982.
C-141's have had many missions over the years. They are considered the workhorse of the Air Mobility Command. They also airlift combat forces or cargo over long distances, resupply forces, and airlift the sick or wounded. Since the inside of the cargo bay has so many configurations, going from mission to mission is incredibly simple. The airplane itself has over 30 possible configurations to adapt itself to the ever-changing missions.
Perhaps the C-141's most important mission, however, is its ability to help in disaster relief. Right from the beginning the C-141 was extremely important in helping those who had suffered as a result of a disaster , such as a flood. They helped in Minnesota in 1979, the Azores in 1980, and Louisiana in 1983. Those are just a few of the many missions they have flown to help people in need.
The C-141 also played a very important role in Desert Storm. They flew over 37,000 departures with over a 90% on-time rate! You are not able to calculate the amount that they contributed in such a short time. The C-141 can carry troops, supplies, vehicles, weapons, refugees, disaster relief, and even on one occasion, a NASA telescope! With nearly 9 million hours logged, it is guaranteed that the C-141 will not be leaving the scene anytime soon.
Primary Function: Cargo and troop transport
Contractor: Lockheed-Georgia Company
Power Plant: Four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofan engines
Thrust: 20,250 pounds, each engine
Wingspan: 160 feet (48.7 meters)
Length: 168 feet, 4 inches (51 meters)
Height: 39 feet, 3 inches (11.9 meters)
Cargo Compartment: Height, 9 feet 1 inch (2.77 meters); length, 93 feet 4 inches (28.45 meters); width, 10 feet 3 inches (3.12 meters)
Cargo Door: width, 10.25 feet (3.12 meters); height, 9.08 feet (2.76 meters)
Speed: 500 mph (Mach 0.66) at 25,000 feet
Ceiling: 41,000 feet (12,496 meters) at cruising speed
Range: Unlimited with in-flight refueling
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 323,100 lbs (146,863 kilograms)