One of many innovative aircraft designs to come on the scene just after WWII, the C-123 Provider began life as the XG-20 cargo glider. This all-metal glider was designed with conversion to a powered assault transport in mind. It first flew as the XC-123 in 1951.
Fairchild built 302 C-123s that first entered service in 1955. Providers served around the world for many years, but the peak of their career was the Vietnam War. There, a transport was needed that could land on a crude runway near the fighting, sometimes under fire. The C-123 filled this role with distinction.
The museum's C-123 was first assigned to the 513th Troop Carrier Squadron at Sewart AFB, Tennessee, in 1956. It was transferred to Vietnam in 1963 and served with the 315th Air Commando Wing. After service in Panama in 1970, it was transferred to the AF Reserved and was retired to the boneyard in 1976. In 1987, it was transferred to the State Department and loaned to the Peruvian National Police for drug interdiction. It was retired and flown to the museum in 1990.
Manufacturer: Fairchild Aircraft
Type: Tactical cargo transport
Powerplant: Two 2,500-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99 Double Wasp radial engines and two 2,850-lb-thrust General Electric J85-GE-17 turbojet
Maximum speed: 228 mph
Range: 1,035 mi. with max payload
Service Ceiling: 21,100 ft
Max Takeoff Weight: 60,000 lb
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and navigator
Payload: 24,000 lb of cargo or 61 troops
Wing Span: 110 ft 0 in
Length: 76 ft 3 in
Height: 34 ft 1 in
Above: Providers served with distinction in Vietnam flying lifeline missions that supported personnel at Arctic radar stations.
A 1,000-lb-thrust Fairchild J44 turbojet engine was mounted on each wingtip of the C123J. C-123Ks had their more powerful jets mounted on underwing pylons.
When Fairchild put the C-123 into production, it added the large and distinctive dorsal fin.
Equipped with the classic rear-loading ramp/door, the C-123 was a superb tactical airliner.