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Douglas C-124 Globemaster II
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Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

The Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, nicknamed "Old Shaky", was a heavy-lift cargo aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California.

The C-124 was the primary heavy-lift transport for United States Air Force Military Air Transport Service (MATS) during the 1950s and early 1960s until the C-141 Starlifter entered service. It served in MATS, later Military Airlift Command (MAC), gained units of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard until 1974.


Design and development

The C-124 was developed from 1947 to 1949 by Douglas Aircraft from a prototype created from World War II-design Douglas C-74 Globemaster and based on lessons learned in the Berlin Airlift. The aircraft was powered by four large Pratt & Whitney R-4360 piston engines producing each. The C-124's design featured two large clamshell doors and a hydraulically-actuated ramp in the nose as well as a cargo elevator under the aft fuselage. The C-124 was capable of carrying of cargo, and the cargo bay featured two overhead hoists, each capable of lifting . As a cargo hauler, it could carry tanks, guns, trucks and other heavy equipment, while in its passenger-carrying role it could carry 200 fully equipped troops on its double decks or 127 litter patients and their attendants. It was the only aircraft of its time capable of transporting heavy equipment such as tanks and bulldozers without disassembly.

The C-124 first flew on 27 November 1949, with the C-124A being delivered from May 1950.[1] The C-124C was next, featuring more powerful engines, and an APS-42 weather radar fitted in a "thimble"-like structure on the nose. Wingtip-mounted combustion heaters were added to heat the cabin, and enable wing and tail surface deicing. The C-124As were later equipped with these improvements.

The C-124A was also the first military aircraft to have an APU installed.[2]

One C-124C, 52-1069, c/n 43978, was used as a JC-124C,[3] for testing the Pratt & Whitney XT57 (PT5) turboprop, which was installed in the nose.[4][5]

Operational history

Nose and front door of a C124. An early C-124A during the Korean War.

First deliveries of the 448 production aircraft began in May 1950 and continued until 1955. The C-124 was operational during the Korean War, and was also used to assist supply operations for Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. They performed heavy lift cargo operations for the US military worldwide, including flights to Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere. From 1959 to 1961 they transported Thor missiles across the Atlantic to England. The C-124 was also used extensively during the Vietnam War transporting materiel from the U.S. to Vietnam. Until the C-5A became operational, the C-124, and its sister C-133 were the only aircraft available that could transport very large loads.

The United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) was the initial operator of the C-124 Globemaster, with 50 in service from 1950 through 1962. Four squadrons operated the type, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Strategic Support Squadrons. Their primary duty was to transport nuclear weapons between air bases and to provide airlift of personnel and equipment during exercises and overseas deployments.

The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) was the primary operator until January 1966, when the organization was retitled Military Airlift Command (MAC). Within a few years following the formation of MAC, the last remaining examples were transferred to the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) and the Air National Guard (ANG), said transfers being complete by 1970. The first ANG unit to receive the C-124C, the 165th Tactical Airlift Group (now known as the 165th Airlift Wing) of the Georgia Air National Guard was the last Air Force unit to retire their aircraft (AF Serial No. 52-1066 and 53-0044) in September 1974.[6]


Pratt & Whitney YT-34-P-6]] turboprops.

Prototype re-built from a C-74 with a new fuselage and powered by four 3,500 hp R-4360-39 engines, it was later re-engined and re-designated YC-124A.
Prototype YC-124 re-engined with four 3,800 hp R-4360-35A engines.
Douglas Model 1129A, production version with four 3,500 hp R-4360-20WA engines; 204-built, most retrofitted later with nose-radar and combustion heaters in wingtip fairings.
Douglas Model 1182E was a turboprop variant of the C-124A with four Pratt & Whitney YT34-P-6 turboprops, originally proposed as a tanker it was used for trials on the operation of turboprop aircraft.
Douglas Model 1317, same as C-124A but with four 3,800 hp R-4360-63A engines, nose radar, wingtip combustion heaters and increased fuel capacity; 243 built.







Accidents and incidents

  • 23 March 1951: A C-124 49-0244 flying from Loring to Mildenhall RAFB reported a fire in the cargo crates, signaling Mayday. They began jettisoning the crates and announced they were ditching. The C-124 ditched at approximately, 700 SW of Ireland.The aircraft was intact when it touched down on the ocean. All hands exited the aircraft wearing life preservers and climbed into the inflated 5 man life rafts. The rafts were equipped with cold weather gear, food, water, flares, and Gibson Girl hand crank emergency radios. Shortly after the men were in the life rafts, a B-29 pilot out of Ireland spotted the rafts and the flares that the men had ignited. Their location was reported and the pilot left the scene when his fuel was getting low. No other United States or Allied planes or ships made it to the ditch site for over 19 hours, until Sunday, the 25th of March, 1951. When the ships arrived all they found were some charred crates and a partially deflated life raft. Ships and planes continued searching for the next several days but not a single body was found. The men of C-124 #49-0244 had disappeared. There is circumstantial evidence that the airmen may have been snatched by the Soviet Union for their intelligence value, but their fate remains a mystery.
  • 20 December 1952: A C-124 flying out of Moses Lake Washington (Larson AFB) and taking Airmen home to Texas for the holidays as part of "Operation Sleigh Ride" crashed not long after takeoff. A total of 87 airmen were killed.[7]
  • 18 June 1953: A C-124 took off from Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. Shortly after takeoff, one of the engines failed, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. Due to a loss of airspeed, the pilot lost control and crashed into a rice field, killing all seven crew and 122 passengers. It is the worst accident involving a C-124.[8]
  • 4 September 1957, C-124A 51-5173 enroute from Larson AFB, Washington crashed while attempting a landing at Binghamton Airport, Binghamton, New York. The C-124A was delivering 20 tons of equipment for Link Aviation. The crew of nine survived.[9][10]
  • 2 January 1964: 52-0968, a C-124C flying from Wake Island Airfield to Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu disappeared over the ocean, 1,200 km west of Hawaii. Eight crew and one passenger were lost in the accident.[11]
  • 28 July 1968: a United States Air Force Douglas C-124C Globemaster II registration 51-5178 flying from Paramaribo-Zanderij to Recife, while on approach to land at Recife, flew into a 1,890 ft high hill, 50 miles (80 km) away from Recife. The 10 occupants died.[12]


C-124C 52-1000 making its last landing at Travis Air Force Base, 10 June 1984.

C-124 at Pima

Specifications (C-124 Globemaster II)

Cockpit of C-124 on display at the McChord Air Museum, McChord AFB, WA.
Cockpit of C-124 on display at the McChord Air Museum, McChord AFB, WA.
Flight engineer's station of a C-124.
Flight engineer's station of a C-124.
C-124A cargo deck.

See also




External links

ar: -124 de:Douglas C-124 es:Douglas C-124 Globemaster II fr:Douglas C-124 Globemaster II hr:Douglas C-124 Globemaster II it:Douglas C-124 Globemaster II ja:C-124 ( ) pl:Douglas C-124 Globemaster II pt:Douglas C-124 sr: C-124 tr:Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

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