The C-131 was based on the Convair 240, 340, and 440 airliners developed to replace surplus WWII transports that were being used as civilian airliners in the early 1950s. The first U.S. Air Force versions were navigator and radio operator trainers designated T-29s. The passengers/MEDEVAC version was designated the C-131A through H.
This version is equivalent to the Convair 340 which was one of the most successful passenger transport designs of the 1950s. It could haul between 25 and 44 passengers depending on configuration. Several foreign military services used C-131s, and they remained in the U.S. Air Force service for over 40 years.
The museum's C-131 served as a personnel transport for the Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama; the 155th Tactical Reconnaissance Group at Lincoln Airport in Nebraska; and was retired after serving as the adjutant general's aircraft with the 169 Tactical Fighter Group at McEntire ANGB in South Carolina. It was flown to the museum in June of 1989.
[Captions, clockwise from top right:]
Type: MEDEVAC and short-range cargo transport
Powerplant: Two 2,500-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16 or -CB17 radial engines
Maximum Speed 293 mph
Range: 1,300 mi. with max payload
Max Takeoff Weight: 52,214 lb
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, freight engineer, and two stewards
Payload: 44 passengers
Wing Span - 105 ft 4 in
Length - 79 ft 2 in
Height - 28 ft 2 in
Above: The museum's aircraft is shown here when it was assigned to the Air University at Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
The distinctive tail shape is common to all Convair planes in this series: the T-29, C-131, C-240, and C-440.
The fuselage of the C-131 was stretched 54 inches longer than the similar T-29 that was used as a trainer for navigators and radio operators.
An interesting design feature of the engine cowl mixes exhaust gases with engine cooling air which increases its speed by 10 mph.