Designed in 1951 for the U.S. Air Force's Tactical Air Command, the C-130 Hercules set a new pattern for military transportation aircraft. Previously types usually had piston engines, tailwheel landing wheel, and side doors. The Hercules uses turboprops for improved performance, a high wing to avoid encroaching on the cargo space and to provide excellent short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability, and a sturdy tricycle landing gear to enable it to operate from unpaved airstrips.
The C-130E is an extended-range development of the C-130B with two underwing fuel tanks and increased range. The primary mission of the airplane is to provide rapic tactical airlift and airdrop of cargo and troops.
C-130s saw extensive use in the Vietnam War when cargo needed to be delivered to forward bases. Delivery methods included the low-altitude parachute-extraction system (LAPES), container delivery system (CDS), ground parachute extraction system (GPES), and ground radar aerial delivery system (GRADS).
Type: Tactical cargo transport
Powerplant: Four 4,350-hp Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines
Maximum Speed: 366 mph
Range: 2,360 mi. with max payload
Service Ceiling: 33,000 ft
Weight: 155,000 lb
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, loadmaster
Payload: 45,000 lb of cargo, 92 ground troops, 64 fully equipped paratroops, or 74 litter patients
Wing Span: 132 ft 7 in
Length: 97 ft 9 in
Height: 38 ft 3 in
Above: The C-130 Hercules is the longest continuously produced military aircraft. The C-130J Super Hercules is the latest model flown today.
The spacious high-set cockpit offers superb visibility and is a huge improvement over the flight decks of previous transports. It is also quiet and vibration free.
An additional feature of the C-130E is its strengthened undercarriage incorporating larger, low-pressure tires. Extensive rough-field trials were conducted. In combat in Vietnam, the C-130s proved their worth, often operating from small airstrips.