Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

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Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

The Douglas C-124 Globemaster II was the main USAF heavy strategic cargo transport during the 1950s and 1960s, until it was replaced by the Lockheed C-5.

The C-124 was developed from the earlier C-74 Globemaster I, a four engined long range transport aircraft that had been developed during the Second World War, but that didn't enter production in time to take part in the war. Only a handful of C-74s were ever built, but the aircraft was a significant improvement on the fleet of twin engined wartime transports.

As a result the USAF asked Douglas to use it as the basis for a more powerful cargo aircraft. The fifth production aircraft was used as the basis for the prototype, which retained the wings, tail and 3,500 Pratt & Whitney Wasp major R-4360-49 engines used on that aircraft and matched them to a new fuselage. The new fuselage had a rectangular cross section and two decks. The upper deck was for passengers, the lower deck for cargo. The most impressive feature of the new aircraft were the clamshell doors in the nose, which opened up to reveal a double ramp that allowed vehicles to be driven straight into the cargo bay. There was also a built in cargo lift just behind the wings, as featured on the C-74.

The double deck configuration was very flexible. It could be used to carry heavy equipment in the cargo bay and the associated personnel in the top deck, or if both decks were used for passengers could take 200 fully equipped troops or 123 stretcher patients, 45 ambulatory patients and 15 medical attendants. It could carry up to 74,000lb of payload. This was an increase of around 50% over the C-74, which could carry 125 troops or 48,150lb of cargo.

The YC-124 was followed by a production prototype and then the first batch of twenty eight C-124As. These were very similar to the prototype when first built, apart from the use of the R-4360-20WA engine, although this provided the same 3,500hp power as the engines used in the prototypes. Eventually 153 C-124As were built. Most were given APS-42 weather radar, carried in a radome in the nose and combustion heaters in pods on the wingtips, which provided heat for the cabin and to deice the wing and tails surfaces.

The C-124A entered service with the Military Air Transport Service and the Troop Carrier Command, just as American entered the Korean War. Soon after entering service its reputation was threatened by two serious accidents, each of which was the worse air disaster in history when it happened. On 20 December 1950 a C-124A crashed during take off from Moses Lake, Washington, with the loss of 86 men. On 18 June 1951 a C-124A crashed near Tokyo, with the loss of all 129 men onboard. However after that the aircraft gained a reputation for reliability and safety.

The YKC-124B was a turbo-prop powered version of the aircraft, designed to be used as a tanker. It was powered by four 5,550 eshp Pratt & Whitney YT34P-1- turbines, which were expected to make it more suitable for use as an in-flight refuelling aircraft. However the USAF decided to use the Boeing KC-97 as its main tanker, and so by the time the prototype made its maiden flight on 2 February 1954 it had been redesignated as the YC-124B. It was used as an engine test bed for two years and then became a ground trainer for missile loading techniques.

The C-124C was the second main production version, with 243 completed. It was powered by four 3,800hp R-4360-63A engines, and could carry more fuel, allowing it to carry a significant amount of cargo over very long distances.

Both the C-124A and C-124B remained in use throughout the 1950s and 1960s and into the 1970s, and were capable of carrying most pieces of Army equipment over long distances. They helped support the US involvement in Vietnam, as well as serving with the reserve and the Air National Guard. They were also used for disaster relief missions. Most were retired during the 1970s.

Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R-4360-20WA radial engines
Power: 3,500hp each
Crew: 5
Wing span: 173ft 3in
Length: 127ft 2in
Height: 48ft 3in
Empty weight:
Loaded weight: 175,000lb
Maximum weight:
Maximum speed: 298mph at 20,800ft
Cruising speed: 264mph
Service ceiling: 22,050
Normal range: 2,300 miles with 50,000lb cargo
Maximum range: 6,280 miles
Cargo: 200 troops or 123 stretcher patents, 45 ambulatory patients and 15 attendants or 74,000lb cargo

Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R-4360-63A radial engines
Power: 3,800hp each
Crew: 5
Wing span: 174ft 1.5in
Length: 130ft 5in
Height: 48ft 3.5in
Empty weight: 101,165lb
Loaded weight: 185,000lb
Maximum weight: 194,500lb
Maximum speed: 304mph at 20,800ft
Cruising speed: 230 mph
Service ceiling: 21,800ft
Normal range: 4,030 miles with 26,375lb cargo
Maximum range: 6,820 miles

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/18/2017 | Content © | The following text is exclusive to this site.

With the close of World War 2 and the accompanying Berlin Airlift, the United States military saw a need to replace its aged C-74 "Globemaster I" systems with a newer and more capable platform. The C-124 was put forth as a product of the Douglas Aviation Company and accepted as the "Globemaster II". From 1950 to 1974, the C-124 served a pivotal role through two major conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and several smaller engagements along the way. As a cargo hauler, it was the best available at what it was asked to do. And what it was asked it do, the Globemaster II did extremely well.

Visually the C-124 was characterized by its enlarged frontal fuselage and low-mounted wings, each fitted with two engines. Cargo access was accomplished through a front twin door opening (sometimes called a clamshell) just underneath the flight deck. The forward cargo bay opening was also featured with a powered lift while an additional cargo entry/exit position was made available on the aft underside. A single vertical tail surface was mounted atop the empennage. Crew accommodations amounted to six personnel. Power was supplied from no fewer than 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 piston engines of the "Wasp Major" type - powerful engines generating some 3,800 horsepower apiece.

The C-124 saw extensive action in the Korean War and into the Vietnam conflict. the system was quite capable of accomplishing any wartime feat that including the transportation of armor, artillery pieces, construction/engineering equipment, general supplies and ballistic missiles. The C-124 was also versatile enough as a passenger transport or medical patient mover, moving some 200 soldiers or 127 wounded at a time. In the end, the C-124 was an excellent logistical piece for the American military and its many years of service proved just that.

Operating branches of the C-124 system included the United States Air Force (SAC), the Air National Guard and the Military Air Transport Service. USAF C-124's were officially retired in 1974 and, in all, some near-450 examples were produced. Visitors to the United States Air Force Museum are treated to an indoor static display of an open C-124 (s/n 51-0135) to which they can walk up into the cargo hold of the aircraft.


The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) was activated under United States Air Force Major General Laurence S. Kuter, in order to harness interservice efforts more efficiently. It was an amalgamation of Navy and Army air transport commands, jointly placed by the Department of Defense under the control of the newly created United States Air Force (USAF) as a unified (joint) command.

During the Second World War, the Army Air Force's aerial transportat arm was the Air Transport Command, which had a dual function of ferrying new aircraft from factories to combat theaters and transportation of troops and supplies, also organized by Tunner. The Naval Air Transport Service focused on supporting deployed Naval and Marine personnel transporting vital cargo, specialist personnel and mail to the Fleet and ground forces, especially in advanced areas of operation.

MATS was the first Joint-Service command, and naval aircrews participated in every major MATS airlift operation. MATS would organizationally be under the Department of the Air Force, as the vast majority of its equipment and personnel of ATC had been inherited by the Air Force with the inactivation of the USAAF.

During the Berlin Airlift, Naval aviators flew transport aircraft from the United States to European supply depots in the Korean War, MATS Navy Squadrons airlifted some 17,000 battle casualties. In its original organization, a Rear Admiral commanded the MATS Pacific Division and another rear admiral served as MATS vice-commander. During the 1958 reorganization, senior Naval officers were on the staffs of the commanders of both EASTAF and WESTAF, and at MATS Headquarters.

In 1965 conflicting views of the Air Force and Navy triggered by the demands of the Vietnam War led to the services returning to separate airlift commands. In turn, MATS was disbanded and superseded in the Air Force by the Military Airlift Command, during a 1966 restructuring.

Origins Edit

With the end of World War II, the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command found itself in limbo. Senior USAAF authorities considered ATC to be a wartime necessity that was no longer needed, and expected its civilian personnel, including former airline pilots, to return to their peacetime occupations. Senior ATC officers, on the other hand, thought that ATC should be developed into a national government operated airline, an idea that was soundly opposed by the airline industry. While the war had firmly established the necessity of a troop carrier mission, most military officers believed the role performed by ATC should be provided by contract carriers.

When the United States Air Force was established as a separate service in 1947, the Air Transport Command was not established as one of its major commands. The ATC commander and his staff took it upon themselves to convince the new civilian leadership of the newly created Department of Defense (DOD) (and Secretaries of the Army and Air Force) that ATC had a mission. They seized upon testimony by former I Troop Carrier Command commander Major General Paul L. Williams that the Air Force should have a long-range troop deployment capability, and began advocating that ATC transports could be used to deploy troops. Williams had been pressing for the development of a long-range troop carrier airplane when he made his statement.

The DOD believed it should have its own air transport service and decided that ATC should become the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), supported by the Air Force, even though not listed as a formal military mission. Also, as a cost-saving measure, MATS would combine the resources of Air Transport Command with those of the Naval Air Transport Service. This way the command would be sanctioned by the Department of Defense, and not by either the Air Force or the Navy.

Although MATS was under the operational control of the United States Air Force, the United States Navy was a full partner in the command and operational components of the organization. Major naval components of MATS were naval air transport (VR) squadrons. VR-3 [1] and VR-6 [2] were assigned to McGuire AFB and VR-22 was assigned to the Naval Air Transport Station at Naval Station Norfolk/Chambers Field, Virginia. Together they constituted MATS EASTAF's Naval Air Transport Wing, Atlantic. On the Pacific Coast, Naval Air Transport Wing, Pacific, consisted of Air Transport Squadron VR-7 and Maintenance Squadron VR-8, both at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California. A detachment of VR-7 was also stationed at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan.

Naval aviators flew scheduled MATS routes to Newfoundland, Iceland, Scotland, West Germany, Italy, Puerto Rico and Africa. In the Pacific, MATS naval aviators flew to all MATS stations from Hawaii to Japan to South Vietnam, Bangkok, India and to Saudi Arabia.

Air Force pilots flew Navy MATS planes, just as naval aviators could be found piloting Air Force MATS transport aircraft.

Organization Edit

During World War II, the USAAF Air Transport Command provided worldwide transport service to every continent on the globe. Inheriting that legacy, MATS continued that service and organized it into three major transport divisions

  • Atlantic Division (after 1 July 1958: EASTAF) - From McGuire AFB, New Jersey, provided service across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe to the Caribbean and South America to North Africa and the Middle East to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
  • Pacific Division (after 1 July 1958: WESTAF) - From Travis AFB, California, provided service to Hawaii and on to locations in the Pacific, including Japan and the Philippines across Southeast Asia India Pakistan and on to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
  • Continental Division - From McGuire to points in Northern Canada along the North Atlantic coast north to Thule AB, Greenland. From Travis north to McChord AFB, Washington, then north to Alaska and Aleutian Islands, then a connection into Tachikawa AB, Japan from Shemya AFS. Also provided coast to coast aeromedical evacuation flights within the United States and cargo service between major Air Force Air Materiel Command depots. The division was disbanded on 1 July 1958, with mission divided between Eastern Transport Air Force (EASTAF) and Western Transport Air Force (WESTAF).

When MATS was established, it also took responsibility for several other missions:

The Special Air Mission was the transport of the President of the United States Vice-President Cabinet Members Member of Congress Senators, and designated other individuals, such as Foreign Heads of State.

Provided rescue of downed military service members in enemy occupied areas humanitarian relief to civilians in emergency conditions (floods, hurricanes, earthquakes)

Weather forecasting for military airfields hurricane hunters.

Mapping the world providing accurate aerial charts to military aviators wherever they need to be. Also producing all Air Force training films public relations films monthly newsreels, and coordinating with private filmmakers with regards to use of Air Force equipment and facilities.

Evacuation of wounded military personnel from combat zones transport of critically ill military personnel (and dependents) to military medical facilities for treatment.

Performed unconventional warfare missions during the Korean War and early years of the Cold War (1950–1956).

Major operations Edit

Berlin Airlift (1948–1949) Edit

MATS was established on 1 June 1948, less than a month before the commencement of the Berlin Airlift -- "OPERATION VITTLES" where at peak operations, planes were landing and departing every ninety seconds or so shuttling in thousands of tons of supplies, food, and fuel each day - but they were not MATS airplanes. The Soviet Union had blocked all surface transportation in the western part of Berlin. Railroads tracks were destroyed, barges were stopped on the rivers, and highways and roads blocked. The only avenue left was through the air. On 26 June 1948, the airlift began. Troop carrier transports from around the globe began making their way to Germany, where they were assigned to United States Air Forces, Europe. Squadrons transferred from as far away as Hawaii and Japan, and included two of the U.S. Navy's air transport squadrons assigned to MATS. MATS itself was not "in charge" of the airlift, although several MATS staff officers were sent to Germany to serve in the Airlift Task Force in an administrative role. Lt. General William H. Tunner was placed in overall command of airlift operations, reporting to the commander of United States Air Forces, Europe. The airlift itself was a USAFE operation and all airplanes assigned to it were assigned to one of five troop carrier groups that were sent to Europe to operate the airlift. MATS played a supporting role, including ferrying C-54s to and from the airlift bases and maintenance depots in the United States and the MATS C-54 training school trained pilots for temporary duty in the airlift. MATS transports delivered crucial aircraft parts to the airlift bases in Europe. This operation would continue for some 15 months until the Soviets lifted the blockade. MATS would provide numerous humanitarian airlifts of global proportions. The U.S. Navy was an integral part of MATS, providing five transport squadrons to the joint service effort, but they operated under USAFE while they were part of the airlift.

Korean War (1950–1953) Edit

The organization's next major test was the bootstrap supply operations supporting the United Nations troops under General Douglas MacArthur in the country of South Korea which was nearly overrun by the time UN forces were mobilized. The MATS role was purely logistical, and operated from the United States to Japan. Theater transport forces assigned to the Far East Air Forces Combat Cargo Command, which became the 315th Air Division, operated supply routes into Japan and provided troop carrier services for UN forces.

Suez, Lebanon and Taiwan Straits Crisis (1956–1958) Edit

During the 1956 Suez Crisis, MATS MATS airlifted 1,300 Colombian and Indian troops from Bogotá and Agra to the United Nations staging area in Naples, Italy, to supplement the UN police force in the Suez area. In 1958, MATS airlifted 5,500 tons of cargo and 5,400 troops to the Middle East in support of the Lebanese government, also supporting the move of a TAC Composite Air Strike Force to the area. Also in 1958, MATS flew 144 airlift trips to the Far East when the crisis arose in the Formosa Straits, supporting the move of a Composite Air Strike Force, and airlifting a squadron of F-104 Starfighters to Taiwan.

Operation Deep Freeze (1957–1963) Edit

In December 1962, MATS Douglas C-124 Globemasters ended six years of seasonal flying as members of the Air Force-Navy team resupplying scientific stations in the Antarctic. During that time the aircraft, operated by the 63d Troop Carrier Wing stationed at Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina, air-dropped about 4,000 tons of supplies from the main Antarctic base at McMurdo Sound to remote stations near and at the South Pole. Beginning in 1963, Lockheed C-130E Hercules, newer, faster, and longer range, picked up the MATS portion of the mission. The performance of the C-124s in the Antarctic cold strengthened the concept of airlift flexibility by doing in a few weeks (each year) a job that would have taken surface transportation several months. During Deep Freeze III, a C-124 air-dropped a seven-ton tractor to an isolated site, and during Deep Freeze 62 (October–December 1961), three C-124's made the longest flight in Antarctic history, a 3,100-mile round trip to airdrop supplies. Also during Deep Freeze 62, Lt. Gen. Joe W. Kelly became the first MATS commander to visit the operation. MATS vice commander, Maj. Gen. Raymond J. Reeves, visited Deep Freeze 63.

Congo Airlift (1960–1963) Edit

MATS C-124 Globemasters and C-118 Liftmasters (and in November 1962, pure-jet C-135 Stratolifters) by the end of November had chalked up more than 2,000 missions in history's longest airlift reaching 5,000 miles from Europe around Africa's West Coast to Leopoldville in the Congo. MATS entered the United Nations airlift under direction of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) 322d Air Division, 16 July 1960, and at the peak had 60 aircraft committed. By the end of 1962, about 49,000 troops and 11,000 tons of cargo had been airlifted to and from points as far away as New Delhi, India.

Berlin Crisis (1961) Edit

As a result of the construction of the Berlin Wall and the ending of free crossing to and from their occupation zone of Berlin, more than 100 MATS =aircraft from EASTAF and WESTAF participated in deployments of American forces from the United States to West Germany and France.

When the Reserve Forces were called to active duty in October 1961, MATS airlift force and technical units provided support for their movement to Europe. Operation Stair Step was the name given to the deployment of Air National Guard fighter units overseas to NATO bases in France, and Operation High Top was the redeployment, June–August 1962. In High Top, for example, more than 260 missions were flown by MATS aircraft of all types, including the C-97's which themselves had been called to active duty. These aircraft returned more than 9,600 ANG personnel and 1,400 tons of equipment.

On addition, the 101st Airborne Division was airlifted from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to locations in Turkey. Approximately 2,000 personnel and 900 tons of equipment were airlifted (Exercise Checkmate II). During the exercise, about 300 MATS airmen and officers lived in tents for about three weeks handling maintenance and communications. Lt. Gen. Joe W. Kelly, MATS commander, was on hand to greet the first arriving aircraft, Despite "miserable" weather, no accidents or incidents occurred.

Throughout 1962, tensions were high in Europe and in January, Exercise Long Thrust II was commenced in which MATS new four-engined jets, the Boeing C-135 Stratolifter, made their first appearance in a major airlift when 12 of them airlifted nearly 500 Army troops over the north polar route from Fort Lewis, Washington, to central West Germany. They made the nonstop trip in little more than 10 hours compared to the piston-engined aircraft which averaged between 30 and 35 hours along normal routes. Altogether, more than 200 MATS aircraft moved 5,300 troops of three battle groups of the Army's 4th Infantry Division in the deployment phase. The jets brought one battle group back. In West Germany, the troops participated in ground maneuvers with NATO forces.

Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) Edit

In the midst of one of the heaviest airlift schedules it has ever had (more than 17 airlifts under way or developing during October and November), MATS was called on to support the buildup of forces in the southeastern part of the United States. On 16 October, MATS began working at its wartime activity rate. Between 16 October and the end of the month, MATS airlifted thousands of troops and thousands of tons in hundreds of sorties from bases throughout the country into Florida and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Included in this was the first major airlift of United States Marines and their combat gear by MATS. Also, during this buildup, MATS lost its first C-135 Stratolifter jet while it was engaged in an ammunition airlift to Guantánamo Bay. All three of the technical services stepped up activities to provide close weather, rescue, and documentation support to the buildup.

During the airlift operation, MATS was called on to react to a call for arms to India in early November to stem the Communist Chinese invasion. The airlift required the movement of 980 tons of small arms more than 6,000 miles from Rhein-Main AB, West Germany, to Dum-Dum Airport, Calcutta. This "no notice" airlift was accomplished in eight days by MATS C-135 Stratolifter jets.

Operation "Big Lift" (1963) Edit

In the first time that a full United States Army division and elements of a Tactical Air Command Strike Force were ferried across the ocean in one big airlift, 15,358 officers and men of the 2nd Armored Division, their support troops, and 504 tons of battle equipment were airlifted by 204 MATS aircraft from eight bases in the South and southwestern United States to France and Germany. They were accompanied by 116 tactical fighters and reconnaissance aircraft of the Composite Air Strike Force (CASF) who flew across the Atlantic. The entire operation was accomplished in 2½ days, employing 234 missions. The C-135 Stratolifter jets made the 5,600-mile trip in 10½ hours nonstop, carrying 75 troops each. It took the C-124 Globemasters three times as long, with refueling stops in Bermuda and the Azores to carry 80 troops and cargo. Following the NATO ground manoeuvers in Europe, the troops were lifted back to the United States on 21 November 1963

Vietnam War Edit

Beginning in 1948, MATS flew airlift missions into French Indochina, providing airlifts of military equipment and supplies to the French government and colonial Vietnamese forces fighting the Viet Minh. In 1954, at the request of the French, wounded Legionnaires from Dien Bien Phu were transported from Tan Son Nhut Airport to either Algeria or France. Initially flown from Saigon to Tachikawa AB near Tokyo on C-124s, over 14,000 wounded soldiers received stabilization medical care. From Japan, the wounded were airlifted across the Pacific Ocean to the Western United States on MATS C-97s. At each of the subsequent stops at Hickam AFB, Hawaii Travis AFB, California, and Westover AFB, Massachusetts, there were layovers of about a day. This portion of the journey was carried out by MATS' Pacific Division. From Westover, the Atlantic Division took charge and airlifted the wounded to Orly Air Base in France and Oran Airport in Algeria. From start to finish, the mission took about a month to complete.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s military aid was shipped to the South Vietnamese government by MATS airlift flights into Tan Son Nhut. In addition, military flights were made to Don Muang Airport in Bangkok which were designated for the Thai Militarily to protect their border along the Mekong River, or clandestinely to the Laotian Government, who were fighting communist rebels in Laos.

As the United States built up its forces in Southeast Asia in the early 1960s, the number of MATS flights to the area increased. MATS C-124s and C-133 Cargomasters were common sights. After the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and the decision being made to escalate United States involvement in the Vietnam War, MATS performed a critical role in the air transport of personnel and equipment to the war zone. Throughout 1964 and 1965 MATS flew large numbers of United States Army and United States Marines to South Vietnam. Large MATS aerial ports were established at Da Nang, Cam Ranh Bay and Tan Son Nhut in South Vietnam, as well as at Don Muang Airport in Thailand to support the United States forces there. The first large-scale MATS jet transport flights of C-141A Starlifters were to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1965.

During Vietnam, MATS was jokingly said to be an acronym for "Maybe Again, Tomorrow, Sometime." [3]

Military Airlift Command Edit

On 1 January 1966, as a result of the Navy announcing the withdrawal of its components, MATS was redesignated Military Airlift Command.

The R5D Skymasters of Naval Transport Squadron Seven Alpha (VR-7A) were retired in July 1966 and the unit inactivated. VR-7, flying C-121/RV-7 Super Constellations remained attached to MAC until 31 January 1967, and the Naval Air Transport Wing (Pacific) was inactivated on 23 March 1967. VR-8 and VR-22 at NAS Moffett Field withdrew its C-130s from MAC on 20 April. The last naval squadron, VR-3, flying C-130s from McGuire AFB, was inactivated on 30 June and the formal DOD program action directive relieving the Navy from MAC responsibilities became effective 1 July 1967.

Most passenger transport missions except the Special Air Mission were contracted out by MAC to commercial airlines such as Pan American, TWA, United, Continental, Northwest and charter companies such as Flying Tiger, using the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). This provided commercial airline pilots and aircrews valuable training, and during the years of the Vietnam War, seeing Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 commercial airliners at MAC aerial ports in Southeast Asia was a common sight.

On 1 December 1974, MAC expanded its mission by acquiring the theater troop carrying and tactical airlift mission (i.e., C-130 Hercules, C-123 Provider, C-7 Caribou) previously performed by the combat commands (TAC, PACAF, USAFE). In 1987, MAC was designated as the Air Force component of the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), a unified joint-service command.

In June 1992, MAC was reorganized and redesignated as the Air Mobility Command (AMC) with a broadened mission of aerial refueling (i.e., KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender), acquired from the inactivating Strategic Air Command. AMC then succeeded MAC as the USAF component of USTRANSCOM.

Lineage Edit

Components Edit

Headquarters Edit

  • Headquarters, MATS
    , 1 June 1948
    , 1 June 1948
  • Pacific Division, 1 June 1948 – 30 June 1958

Services Edit

Air Transport Units Edit

    , Bolling AFB, District of Columbia, 1 June 1948
  • 1405th Aeromedical Transport Wing, Scott AFB, Illinois, 26 August 1948
    , Fairfield-Suisun (Later Travis) AFB, California, 1 June 1948 – 8 January 1966
    , Hickam AFB, Hawaii, 1 June 1948
    , Tachikawa AB, Japan, 1 June 1948
    , Westover AFB, Massachusetts, 1 June 1948 – 1 April 1955 , Wiesbaden AB, Germany (later West Germany), 1 June 1948 – 1 July 1952
    , Wheelus AB, Libya, 1 June 1948 – 1 January 1953
  • 1605th Air Transport Wing, Lajes AB, Azores, 1 June 1948 – 8 January 1966 , Dover AFB, Delaware, 1 January 1954
    , Charleston AFB, South Carolina, 15 January 1954
    , McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 1 May 1954 – 8 January 1966
    , Kelly AFB, Texas, 1 June 1948 – 1 May 1957 , Great Falls AFB, Montana, 1 June 1948 – 1 May 1953
    , Brookley AFB, Alabama, 1 October 1948 – 18 June 1957 , McChord AFB, Washington, 1 August 1950
    , Palm Beach AFB, Florida, 1 September 1951

Note: 4-digit Military Air Transport Service units at all levels were considered Major Command (MAJCOM) provisional units by the USAF due to MATS being a Department of Defense Unified Command. Under the USAF lineage system they did not a permanent lineage or history and were discontinued upon inactivation.

Troop Carrier Units Edit

On 1 July 1957 a reorganization of USAF troop carrier forces included the transfer of Tactical Air Command Eighteenth Air Force heavy-lift C-124 Globemaster II units to MATS. However, the units retained their troop carrier designation and remained dedicated to support TAC on worldwide troop deployments.

    , Larson AFB, Washington, 1 July 1957 – 18 June 1960 , McChord AFB, Washington, 18 June 1960
    , Donaldson AFB, South Carolina, 1 July 1957 – 8 October 1959 , Donaldson AFB, South Carolina, 1 July 1957 – 18 January 1963 , Hunter AFB, Georgia, 18 January 1963 – 8 January 1966

Station facilities Edit

Upon its establishment, Military Air Transport Service inherited much of Air Transport Command's worldwide network of stations and transport routes. By the time of its disestablishment, MATS had closed its facilities at many of these stations however, some are still in use today by Air Mobility Command in support of United States interests around the world.

C-124 Globemaster II

C-124 Globemaster II
(from the Topps Wings Friend or Foe collection)

The Douglas C-124 Globemaster II evolved from the earlier Douglas C-74. The first flight of the C-124 airplane took place in November of 1949, and deliveries to the U.S. Air Force of C-124As began in May of 1950. Many referred to the large aircraft as "Old Shakey".

To facilitate cargo handling, the C-124 featured "clamshell" loading doors and hydraulic ramps in the nose and an elevator under the aft fuselage. It was capable of handling such

bulky cargo as tanks, field guns, bulldozers and trucks. It could also be converted into a transport capable of carrying 200 fully-equipped soldiers or 127 litter patients and their attendants in its double-decked cabin.

The C-124A was followed into service by the C-124C, which featured more-powerful engines, as well as wingtip-mounted combustion heaters that provided cabin heating and wing and tail surface deicing, and an APS-42 weather radar in a distinctive nose "thimble." These latter improvements were eventually retrofitted to the C-124As.

Douglas C-124C Globemaster II S/N 52-1004

With the introduction of the C-141 Starlifter into active service, most C-124 planes were transferred to the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard by 1970. The first ANG unit to receive the C-124C was the last Air Force unit to retire their aircraft in September of 1974.


* The last of the big Douglas prop transports was the "C-133 Cargomaster", which was designed in response to the Air Force's 1952 "Logistic Carrier Support System SS402L" requirement, to carry outsize cargoes. Douglas began work on the type in early 1953, and was awarded a contract for twelve "C-133As" in 1954.

The first "C-133A" performed its initial flight on 23 April 1956. There was no formal prototype, with initial delivery to the USAF Military Air Transport Service (MATS) in August 1957. C-133As began international flight operations the next year, and quickly set several records for transport aircraft. By the time of the C-133A's operational introduction, the US was engaged in a frantic race to build ballistic missiles, and one of the primary roles of the C-133A turned out to be ferrying the missiles from the manufacturer to operational sites.

Conceptually, the C-133 looked much more like an elongated Lockheed C-130 Hercules than the C-74 or C-124. The Cargomaster had a high, straight wing, with main landing gear in fairings alongside the aircraft to ensure an unobstructed cargo bay. The cargo bay was 27.5 meters long and 3.7 meters high (90 feet by 12 feet), had a volume of 1,210 cubic meters (13,000 cubic feet), and was pressurized, heated, and ventilated.

Early production C-133As were powered by four P&W T34-P-3 turboprops with 4,476 kW (6,000 SHP) each, but later machines were fitted with T34-P-7WA turboprops with 4,849 kW (6,500 SHP) each and water-methanol injection for boost power. The aircraft had a crew of four, and could carry 50,000 kilograms (110,000 pounds) of cargo, or a fully-assembled Jupiter, Thor, or Atlas ballistic missile. 200 airline-type seats could be fitted for personnel hauling, at least in principle.

The Cargomaster could be loaded through a side door on the right side of the aircraft, or a rear door. The first 32 C-133As had a two-section rear door that opened up and down, with the bottom section forming a loading ramp, while the last three had side-opening "clamshell" doors that extended the cargo bay by 90 centimeters (3 feet), allowing the aircraft to carry an assembled Titan missile. The 35 C-133As were followed by 15 "C-133Bs", with the clamshell doors and uprated Pratt & Whitney T34-P-9W turboprops providing 5,595 kW (7,500 HP) each. The last Cargomaster was rolled out in April 1961.

The C-133 served through the 1960s. It was a big aircraft that gave the Air Force a very useful heavy-lift capability, but it was not very successful. The turboprop engines were unreliable, leading to poor flight availability rates, and they also caused excessive vibration. It had a number of other problems as well, some of which led to disastrous accidents and groundings. It was never used as a troop transport, and it appears to have been generally disliked or even feared by anyone who had anything to do with it.

Airframe fatigue problems finally led to the Cargomaster's withdrawal from service in 1971, to the relief of all concerned. It was replaced by the C-5 Galaxy, which ironically would also suffer from premature fatigue problems. A handful of C-133s remained in commercial air cargo service for a few years after the type's withdrawal from military service.

27/01/1957: A USAF Douglas C-124 Globemaster II suffers engine failure just after takeoff from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. The captain ditches the aircraft into the Cook Inlet. All 12 onboard survive with minor injuries. The aircraft is damaged beyond repair.

Interesting - wikipedia doesn't have this crash listed for the type.

Also, I was under the impression that the design allowed for a single engine loss on take off at max weight. In this case, the pilot decided he couldn't return to base with one engine down.

I guess it depends on the attitude above sea-level. Maybe with thinner air, slower air speed due to takeoff, and heavy fuel load. It all might have been too much for the one engine.

But that is all purely speculation of course.

Man, the 1950s, the era of the giant prop planes.

Also flying was the C-133 Globemaster which was about the size of a Boeing 767. There was also mini C-5 with props called the C-132. It never got built, but a mockup did get constructed, photo, you can get a sense of scale by looking at the door in the lower left. Apparently there was a big stink after the photo got published, as the USAF actually didn't have any funds for it, and the program was canceled.

Emergency responses [ edit | edit source ]

Air base and local fire department crews were soon on the scene, followed by chaplains and identification teams. A temporary morgue was set up as victims were retrieved from the wreckage. ΐ]

USAF Staff Sergeant Robert D. Vess, who was driving from Tokyo with his wife, was about 150m (150 yards) away when he saw the aircraft lose control and crash. Vess immediately pulled over and ran to the crash site. Vess pulled the aircraft's radio operator, John H. Jordan Jr., from the wreckage, but Jordan died a few minutes later. Vess then continued to help search for survivors until the aircraft's fuel tanks exploded. ΐ]

At 16:50, Tachikawa GCA called the 36th Air Rescue Squadron at Johnson Air Base to the crash site. Lt. Colonel Theodore P. Tatum Jr., his co-pilot, and a two-man pararescue team arrived on the scene via helicopter at 17:13 their subsequent inspection confirmed that there were no survivors. ΐ]

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, med kallenamnet «Old Shaky», var eit transportfly for tungtransport bygd av Douglas Aircraft Company i Long Beach i California.

C-124 vart hovudsakleg nytta av United States Air Force si transportteneste (MATS) i 1950-åra og tidleg i 1960-åra, fram til C-141 Starlifter kom inn i teneste. Flyet vart nytta av Air Force Reserve og Air National Guard fram til 1974.

Douglas Aircraft utvikla C-124 frå 1947 til 1949, frå ein prototype basert på Douglas C-74 Globemaster, nytta under andre verdskrigen. Flyet vart driven av fire store Pratt & Whitney R-4360 stempelmotorar som kvar produserte 3800 hk. C-124 kunne bere 31 100 kg med last, og lasterommet var 23 meter langt. Flyet kunne bere tanks, kanonar, lastebilar og anna tungt utstyr, og som passasjerfly kunne det føre 200 fullt utrusta soldatar i to doble dekk eller 127 bårepasientar med følgje.

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

When the mammoth C-5 Galaxy airlifter entered service in 1969 it pretty much relegated all that remained in the turboprop arsenal from the C-124 era to the scrapheap—except the C-124 itself. First flown in 1949 the Globemaster II still would have had a role beyond its 1974 retirement that only it could fulfill really well, if only its tired wings weren’t getting stressed. It wasn’t just the weight it could carry but rather the volume its predecessor, the C-74 Globemaster, a very large plane for its time, was usually stuffed to the gills long before it reached its weight-carrying limit. With its twin “bug eye” pilot canopies (later one) perched atop the sleek fuselage, that graceful aircraft looked like it had been designed by an aerodynamicist whereas the C-124, which is a refuselaged C-74, looked as if a bunch of cartoonists had sniffed too much solvent. Nicknamed Old Shaky, this double-decker retained the C-47’s wing, tail surfaces (slightly modified) and engines, and was given gigantic clamshell nose doors and an aft-mounted elevator to gobble up its 68,500 lb of cargo.

On the ground it looked positively ungainly, especially when propped up by a tripod at the tail to keep it from tipping. But wherever it flew, it was a welcome sight, especially on those fields that were unprepared and could not have accepted any air traffic except maybe a C-130 Hercules which couldn’t carry nearly as much cargo. In all regards, then, a formidable aircraft, but not nearly as well known today as it should be. And that’s why U.S. Air Force veteran Earl Berlin stepped up to spend ten years of his life researching a plane that he never even worked on during his 21 years in the service.

As a former tech school instructor, Berlin obviously has a sense for paring down the subject matter. That this book looks the way it does probably has more to do with the publisher and their approach. Steve Ginter Books has a long list in its two series, Naval Fighters and the newer Air Force Legends into which this book falls. Ginter himself is an author and won the Admiral Arthur W. Radford Award for excellence in Naval Aviation History and Literature. His books are no-frills productions aimed at the serious aviation enthusiast and the aviation modeler, and they cover many offbeat aircraft. This, then, is an audience that doesn’t need glittery fluff books but hard data. There’s no Table of Contents, no Introduction, no Index. Just the fact, ma’am. The books are heavy on such minutia as cockpit detail, line drawings, close-ups, squadron insignia, paint schemes (the photos are b/w so the captions describe it), and reproductions of pages from the actual flight manuals. Anyone may submit aircraft photos of pretty much anything to Ginter who will archive them for use in future projects. Many of the photos used (all are credited) in a book are therefore new to the record.

Between the comprehensive illustrative material and an author’s text there thus emerges a many-faceted, reliable, reference-level treatment of an aircraft’s developmental and operational history over the length of its service life. Berlin does just that for the C-124. Beginning with a look at the tactical picture and military requirements and a summary of large-capacity military and civilian airlifters gives the reader a proper understanding of the expectations for this particular aircraft and if and how it fulfilled them. Testing protocols, mission profiles, performance data and modifications, sometimes pages-long first-person accounts of flight personnel, serial numbers, survivors—everything that is relevant is touched upon, even if only briefly. One could easily see the wealth of material in this one slim booklet be expanded into a book four times its size (and price)!

Two closing pages describe three scale model kits (some of the detail tech drawings elsewhere in this book are in 1/144 scale so modelers can use them to make their store-bought or scratch-built models more accurate).

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II - History

The C-124 evolved from the earlier Douglas C-74. To facilitate cargo handling, the C-124, or “Old Shakey” as it was affectionately known, featured “clamshell” loading doors and hydraulic ramps in the nose and an elevator under the aft fuselage. It was capable of handling such bulky cargo as tanks, field guns, bulldozers, and trucks. It also could be converted into a transport capable of carrying 200 fully equipped soldiers in its double-decked cabin.

The first flight by a C-124 took place on 27 November 1949 and deliveries of C-124As began in May 1950. The USAF bought 448 C-124s before production ended in 1955. These planes performed such missions as airlift support in the Far East and Southeast Asia, resupply mission in Antarctica, refugee evacuation in the Congo and mercy flights throughout the world following floods and other natural disasters.

The C-124 on display entered USAF service in February 1952 and served with units on the west coast until it retired in August 1971. The Museum acquired the aircraft in 1986. Warner Robins Air Logistics Center provided both logistics and management support of the C-124 fleet.

Span: 174 ft. 1 in.
Length: 130 ft.
Height: 48 ft. 4 in.
Weight: 216,000 lbs. max.
Armament: None
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-4360s of 3,800 hp. ea.
Cost: $1,646,000
Serial Number: 51-089

Maximum speed: 320 mph.
Cruising speed: 200 mph.
Range: 2,175 miles
Service ceiling: 21,800 ft.

Watch the video: C-124 Globemaster Austere Operations in Alaska (October 2022).

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