Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Its Variants
By Chris Reed
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing Ltd 1999 136 Pages
PDF 40 MB
Hercules. Herk. Herky-Bird. Four-Engined Fighter. Whatever its popular name, Lockheed's C-130 remains the world's premier tactical airlifter more than four decades after its first flight. Conceived in the depths of the Cold War, the Hercules has hauled troops, vehicles, cargo, and refugees in several major wars, numerous interventions, and countless relief and humanitarian missions. There have also been a dizzying array of special purpose models, filling such diverse roles as airborne early warning, weather reconnaissance, side-firing gunship, electronic and photographic intelligence, arctic resupply, search and rescue, and aerial refueling tanker.
The genesis of the C-130 program dates back to the 194()s. World War II saw the first extensive use of tactical airlift, and by the end of the war the concept of moving troops into battlefield areas by air had been proven. The USAAF fought the war
equipped for the most part with Curtiss C-46 Commandos and Douglas C-47s, and both types proved to be workhorses. But these aircraft were basically adapted airliners, and what was needed was a purpose-designed type able to carry both men and large military items such as vehicles to the front.
During the war. successful use was made of gliders for transporting vehicles and heavy equipment during airborne operations. However, the advantages of a powered aircraft that could land, disgorge its cargo, and take off again under its own power were obvious, and there were several attempts to turn gliders into powered transports; Messersehmitt created the six-engined Me323 Gigant heavy transport from the equally large Me321, and after the war the U.S. experimental XCG-20 assault glider formed the basis for the C-123B Provider. And in the UK, a late version of the General Aircraft Hamilcar heavy glider was fitted with a pair of Mercury engines, and the basic design helped form the starting point for the later Bristol 170.