Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

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

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 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. Most aircraft were passed on to the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve by 1970. The first ANG unit to receive the C-124C was the last Air Force unit to retire their Globemaster II aircraft, in September 1974.

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II
Class Aircraft
Type Transport
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1949
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America 1950 1974 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Douglas Aircraft Company 448 View

Douglas Aircraft developed the C-124 from 1947 to 1949, from a prototype they created from a World War II–design Douglas C-74 Globemaster, and based on lessons learned during the Berlin Airlift. The aircraft was powered by four large Pratt & Whitney R-4360 piston engines producing 3,800 hp (2,800 kW) 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 68,500 lb (31,100 kg) of cargo, and the 77 ft (23 m) cargo bay featured two overhead hoists, each capable of lifting 8,000 lb (3,600 kg). 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. 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.

One C-124C, 52-1069, c/n 43978, was used as a JC-124C, for testing the 15,000 shp (11,000 kW) Pratt & Whitney XT57 (PT5) turboprop, which was installed in the nose.

Variants

  • YC-124 : Prototype rebuilt 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 redesignated YC-124A.
  • YC-124A : Prototype YC-124 re-engined with four 3,800 hp R-4360-35A engines.
  • C-124A : 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.
  • YC-124B : 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.
  • C-124C : 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. 

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 Cargomaster were the only aircraft available that could transport very large loads.

The United States Air Force's 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 SAC 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 of the C-124 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.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6
  • Length: 130 ft (40 m)
  • Wingspan: 174 ft 1 in (53.06 m)
  • Height: 48 ft 4 in (14.7 m)
  • Wing area: 2,510 ft (233.2 m)
  • Empty weight: 100,000 lb (46,000 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 195,000 lb (88,000 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 216,000 lb (98,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 "Wasp Major" radial engines, 3,800 hp (2,800 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 320 mph (280 knots, 520 km/h)
  • Range: 2,175 mi (1,890 nm, 3,500 km)
  • Service ceiling 34,000 ft (10,000 m)
  • Wing loading: 77.7 lb/ft (379 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.078 hp/lb (128 W/kg)

End notes