The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop cargo aircraft
and the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40
models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 50 nations. On December
2006 the C-130 was the third aircraft (after the English Electric Canberra in
May 2001 and the B-52 Stratofortress in January 2005) to mark 50 years of continuous
use with its original primary customer (in this case the United States Air Force).
Capable of short takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, the C-130 was
originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo transport aircraft.
The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including
as a gunship, and for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research
support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling and aerial firefighting.
The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military
aircraft in history. During more than 50 years of service the family has participated
in military, civilian and humanitarian aid operation
The Korean War, which began in June, 1950, showed that World War II-era transportsC-119
Flying Boxcars, C-47 Skytrains and C-46 Commandoswere inadequate for modern
warfare. Thus, on February 2, 1951, the United States Air Force issued a General
Operating Requirement (GOR) for a new transport to Boeing, Douglas, Fairchild,
Lockheed, Martin, Chase, Airlifts Inc, North American and Northrop. The new transport
would have a capacity for 92 passengers or 64 paratroopers, a range of 1100 nautical
miles, takeoff capability from short and unprepared strips, and the ability to
fly with one engine stopped.
Fairchild, North American, Martin and Northrop declined to participate. The
remaining five companies tendered a total of nine designs: Lockheed two, Boeing
one, Chase three, Douglas three, Airlifts Inc one. The contest was a close affair
between the lighter of the two Lockheed (preliminary project designation L-206)
proposals and a four-turboprop Douglas design. The Lockheed design team was
led by Willis Hawkins starting with a 130 page proposal for the Lockheed L-206
and another two-turboprop and heavier one. Hall Hibbard, Lockheed vice president
and chief engineer, saw the proposal and directed it to Kelly Johnson, who remarked
when he saw the proposal, "If you sign that letter, you will destroy the
Lockheed Company." Both Hibbard and Johnson signed the proposal and the
company got the contract for the now designated Model 82 on July 2, 1951.
The first flight of the YC-130 prototype was made on August 23, 1954 from the
Lockheed plant in Burbank, California. The aircraft, serial number 53-3397,
was the second prototype but the first of the two to fly. The YC-130 was piloted
by Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer on its 61-minute flight to Edwards Air Force
Base; Jack Real and Dick Stanton served as flight engineers. Kelly Johnson flew
chase in a P2V Neptune.
After the two prototypes were completed, production moved to Marietta, Georgia,
where more than 2,000 C-130s have been built.
The initial production model, the C-130A, was powered by Allison T56 turboprops
with three-blade propellers. Deliveries began in December of 1956, continuing
until the introduction of the C-130B model in 1959. Some A models were re-designated
C-130D after being equipped with skis and for jet-assisted takeoff. The newer
C-130B had ailerons with more boost 3,000 versus 2,050 lbf/in² (21
versus 14 MPa) as well as uprated engines and four-bladed propellers
that were standard until the late 1990s. The performance gains over the C-130A
gave the C-130B the reputation of being the design's 'sports car' model.