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C-141 Starlifter

History and Development of the C-141 Starlifter

Lockheed C-141 Starlifter Lockheed C-141 Starlifter

The Lockheed C-141 Starlifter was a military strategic airlifter in service with the Air Mobility Command (AMC) of the United States Air Force (USAF).

Introduced to replace slower piston-engined cargo planes such as the C-124 Globemaster II, the C-141 was designed to requirements set in 1960 and first flew in 1963. Production began in 1965.

In the early 1960s, the United States Air Force Military Air Transport Service (MATS) relied on a substantial number of propeller-driven planes for strategic airlift. As these aircraft were mostly obsolescent designs and the Air Force needed the benefits of jet power, the USAF ordered 48 Boeing C-135 Stratolifters as an interim step. The C-135 was a useful stop-gap, but only had side-loading doors and most bulky and oversize equipment would not fit, especially that employed by the U.S. Army.

In the spring of 1960 the Air Force released Specific Operational Requirement 182, calling for a new aircraft that would be capable of performing both strategic and tactical airlift missions. With the contract falling to Lockheed, designers set about utilizing the successes of the C-130 Hercules airframe and building it up to a four turbofan-engine, swept-wing heavy hauler. The resulting C-141 was born and quickly put into trans-oceanic action to support the Vietnam conflict.

Designed with a pressurized cabin and crew station, the C-141 was very versatile, able to be quickly converted to any of about thirty cargo or troop-carrying configurations. The C-141 can carry a variety of palletized cargo including most wheeled vehicles in the US inventory, as well as 205 passengers, or 168 fully equipped paratroopers.

A total of 285 Starlifters were built between 1963 and 1968.

C-141 Photographs

C-141 Starlifter, S/N 660177, the "Hanoi Taxi", in the Global Reach Gallery at the Museum of the United States Air Force
C-141 Starlifter, S/N 660177, the "Hanoi Taxi",on display in the Global Reach Gallery at the Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio

C-141 Starlifter, S/N 660177, the "Hanoi Taxi", on display at the Museum of the United States Air Force. This C-141 of the 4th Allied POW Wing airlifted the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Gia Lam Airport in Hanoi, North Vietnam, on February 12, 1973.
C-141 Starlifter, S/N 660177, the "Hanoi Taxi",on display in the Global Reach Gallery at the Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio
Lockheed C-141B Starlifter S/N 67-0013 in Tucson
Lockheed C-141B Starlifter S/N 67-0013
Lockheed C-141B Starlifter S/N 67-0013
Nose section of the Lockheed C-141B Starlifter S/N 67-0013
Lockheed C-141C Starlifter, 65-0248, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
Lockheed C-141C Starlifter, 65-0248 at Robins AFB
Lockheed C-141C, 65-0248, of the AFRC, March Air Force Base, in Warner-Robins, Georgia
Tail section of the Lockheed C-141C Starlifter, 65-0248 at Robins AFB
Tail section of the Lockheed C-141C, 65-0248, in markings of the AFRC, March Air Force Base
Lockheed C-141C Starlifter, 65-0248 at Robins AFB
C-141 Starlifters in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG (May, 2004)
C-141 Starlifters in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG (May, 2004)
C-141 Starlifter sliced in half - former AETC aircraft from Altus AFB, S/N 67946 at AMARG in Tucson (May 2004)
C-141 Starlifter sliced in half - former AETC aircraft from Altus AFB, S/N 67946 at AMARG in Tucson (May 2004)