To date, the C-5 Galaxy is the largest military transport in the Air Force's arsenal. It is one of the largest planes in the world today, and was the heaviest in the world until 1982 with the introduction of the Russian An-124 Condor. The amount of cargo that the C-5 can carry is almost unimaginable. The Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk could have taken place in the cargo bay of the enormous C-5. You could also fit an eight-lane bowling alley in the back of a C-5. This is because a C-5 is 6 stories high and as long as a football field. It can also carry over 100 tons of cargo over intercontinental distances.
In 1965, the military realized that they had to replace the outdated C-133 Cargomaster. It did not take them long before the first C-5 rolled off of the line for testing. It worked very well with one exception: the landing gear became a problem right from the start. With such a heavy airplane, conventional landing gear simply would not do. They had to develop an entirely new system with 28 wheels. These landing gear are so good that it allows the C-5 to take-off and land from unimproved, or dirt, runways which makes it very versatile. Another important trait of these landing gear is that they enable the plane to "kneel" or lower itself to allow easier on-load or off-load of cargo.
The plane is designed very well to allow cargo to be put on or off very quickly. The floor of the cargo bay can be switched over to wheels so sliding cargo in or out is very easy. Also, the front and the back of the airplane open up to allow vehicles to keep on driving straight out the front to save time. As far as vehicles go, a C-5 can hold 6 Apaches helicopters, 6 M-2/M-3 Bradley Infantry Vehicles, or a 74-ton mobile bridge. If the cargo is in the forms of pallets, a C-5 can carry 36 pallets, which can be loaded in just 90 minutes . A C-5 has 35,000 cubic feet of cargo space which is 5 times more than a C-141 can hold!
The C-5 can fly great distances even with a lot of cargo . It can fly 2,500 miles with 263,200 pounds of cargo. A C-5 set a record in 1984 when it took of with a gross-weight of 920,836 pounds! Since all C-5's have in-flight refueling capabilities, theoretically, one could fly forever if it kept getting refueled while in-air. They carry about 51,450 gallons of jet fuel. That is enough fuel to fill up six and a half typical railroad tanker cars. In 1982, the C-5B was introduced . Since the introduction of the C-5A in 1968, they had added on many other "systems" to improve the plane. Basically, all a C-5B was was a C-5A with all of these add-ons standard.
Since the C-5 is so versatile, it has had many different missions over the years. Probably the most important of these missions are the disaster relief missions. In 1988, C-5's delivered 885,000 pounds of earthquake relief to Armenia. And in 1989, delivered over 2 million pounds of clean-up equipment to the Alaskan oil spill. They also played a great role in Desert Storm. While C-5's composed only 12% of the total air fleet there, they delivered 44% of all of the cargo. Among this cargo was: one half million passengers, 15 hospitals, and over 200 tons of mail every day.
Over 100 C-5's are still active in the U.S. Air Force and are stationed at 6 U.S. bases (all of which are in the continental U.S.). And since there is a crew of six highly trained airmen on each of these planes, there are a lot of people who fly these on a daily basis and do not want ot see them go away anytime soon. And since the Air Force has yet to find a suitable replacement, the C-5 will be around for a long time.
Country: United States of America
Designation: C-5 Galaxy
Service Dates: 1968 to present
Empty Weight: 374,000 lbs
Gross Weight: 837,000 lbs
Maximum Speed: 571 mph
Maximum Range: 7,665 miles
Maximum Altitude: 35,750 ft
Number of Crew: 5 + passengers and cargo
Engine Type: Turbofan
Engine Manufacturer: General Electric
Engine Designation: TF-39 x 4
Engine Thrust: 41,100 lbs