Airplanes of the Past Home Page

C-5 Galaxy

Originally operational in 1970, the Galaxy remains an integral part of the active cargo fleet of the U.S. Air Force (USAF). It is still a "airplane of the present"!

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft designed and built by Lockheed, and now maintained and upgraded by Lockheed Martin. It provides the USAF with a heavy intercontinental-range strategic airlift capability, one that can carry outsized and oversized loads, including all air-certifiable cargo.

USAF C-5 Galaxy

The USAF has operated the C-5 since 1970. In that time, the airlifter supported US military operations in all major conflicts including Vietnam, Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan, as well as allied support, such as Israel during the Yom Kippur War and operations in the Gulf War. The Galaxy has also been used to distribute humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and supported the US space program.

The Galaxy features front and rear cargo openings, enabling the aircraft to be loaded and off-loaded at the same time. Both nose and rear doors open the full width and height of the cargo compartment, allowing drive-through loading and unloading of wheeled and tracked vehicles, and faster, easier loading of bulky equipment. A "kneeling" landing gear system lowers the aircraft's cargo floor to truck-bed height. 

The Galaxy is among the world's largest aircraft, sharing that title with the Boeing 747 and the Antonov An-124. It is the length of a football field and high as a 6-story building.

Shown below is a spotting guide comparing the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy to the Boeing 747-8F and the Antonov An-124-100
(Image courtesy of AirlinerSpotter.com)
Spotting guide comparing the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy to the Boeing 747-8F and the Antonov An-124-100

 

The enormous weight of the C-5 is supported by a 28-wheel landing gear configuration. The Galaxy is powered by four turbofan engines mounted under the wings.

C-5A

USAF C-5A Galaxy S/N 69-0014 on display at Dover AFB
USAF C-5A Galaxy S/N 69-0014 on display at Dover AFB (photo by the Air Mobility Command Museum)

The first operational C-5A Galaxy was delivered to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, South Carolina, in 1970.

Today, C-5A Galaxy S/N 69-0014 has been restored and is display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB in Delaware. In 1973, 69-0014 was the first factory-new C-5A assigned to Dover AFB, and in October of 2013 it moved to the AMC Museum marking the first time a C-5 was retired to a museum.

C-5B and C-5C

The C-5B included more than 100 additional system modifications to improve reliability and maintainability.

In fiscal year 1989, two modified C-5Cs were delivered. The modification included removing the troop compartment, redesigning the aft pressure door and bulkhead, and widening the aft doors so the aircraft could carry the space shuttle’s large cargo container. The two C-5Cs were assigned to Travis AFB, California.

In March of 1989, the last 50 C-5Bs were delivered, adding to the already existing 76 C-5As in the Air Force's airlift inventory.

C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5M Super Galaxy is a strategic transport aircraft and is the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Its primary mission is to transport cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense. The C-5M is a modernized version of the legacy C-5 designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

The C-5M is 248ft in length and has a wingspan of nearly 223ft. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 840,000 pounds.

Current C-5 Inventory in the Air Force

Currently the U.S. Air Force owns and operates 52 C-5B/C/M. They are stationed at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; Travis AFB, California; Lackland AFB, Texas; and Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.

 

C-5 Galaxy Photos (Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

Troops loading onto a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy
Troops loading onto a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy
U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy showing open nose door at Bush Field, Georgia
U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy showing open nose door at Bush Field, Georgia
U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy in flight
U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy in flight
U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy from Travis AFB during aerial refueling from a KC-46 Pegasus
U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy from Travis AFB during aerial refueling from a KC-46 Pegasus

 

 

U.S. Air Force C-5A Galaxy S/N 69-0014 on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB
U.S. Air Force C-5A Galaxy S/N 69-0014 on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB

 

C-5 Galaxy Storage and Scrapping at AMARG

USAF C-5 Galaxy transport in storage at Davis-Monthan's AMARG facility
USAF C-5 Galaxy transport in storage at Davis-Monthan's AMARG facility
C-5A Galaxy transports in storage at Davis-Monthan AMARG
C-5A Galaxy transports in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG
C-5A Galaxy reclamation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG
C-5A Galaxy reclamation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG