First designed in the early 1950's, in response to the U.S. military's need for a larger troop and vehicle transport aircraft, the C-130 Hercules went far above and far beyond the call of duty. Entering service with the Air Force in 1956, the C-130 holds the record for the longest continuous production of any military aircraft in history. More than 50 years after it was first presented to the military, the Hercules is still in use in more than 60 nations around the world in over 70 different variations.

Produced by Lockheed, the C-130 is a four-engine turboprop aircraft capable of landing and taking off from short, rough dirt runways. It is a troop transport and cargo aircraft that is used in a wide variety of other roles- airborne assault, weather reconnaissance for various government agencies, a refueling tanker for fighter jets and helicopters alike, as a firefighter with the U.S Forest Service, an aerial medevac ship, and in one variation known as the AC-130 Spectre, an armored gunship with awe inspiring fire-power.

The C-130 is regularly used alongside the C-141 Starlifter at the United States Army Airborne School in Ft. Benning, GA and also at the 82nd Airborne Division in Ft. Bragg, NC. Paratroopers exit the aircraft through two doors on either side of the aircraft behind the landing-gear fairings. Another exit is off the rear ramp used for airdrops or Special Operations High Altitude High/Low Opening (HAHO/HALO) jumps.


The Hercules is capable of delivering vehicles, equipment, or supplies either by landing and off-loading or by various aerial delivery modes. There are three primary methods of aerial delivery used for equipment.

In the first and most common, drag parachutes are deployed from the rear of the aircraft to pull the load, weighing up to 42,000 pounds, out of the open ramp. When the load is clear of the plane, larger cargo parachutes inflate and lower the load to the ground.

The second method, called the Container Delivery System, uses the force of gravity to pull up to 16 bundles of supplies from the aircraft along a rail system in the bed of the plane. When the bundles, each weighing up to 2,200 pounds, are out of the aircraft, a static line deploys a parachute that delivers the cargo safely to the ground.

The Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) is the third and most dangerous aerial delivery method. With LAPES, up to 38,000 pounds of cargo is pulled from the Hercules by large, inflated cargo parachutes while the aircraft is 5 to 10 feet above the ground. The load then slides to a stop by itself. Efforts are underway to increase the maximum load weights for LAPES aerial delivery to 42,000 pounds. An example of the LAPES delivery system can be seen in the action movie xXx, starring Vin Diesel.


FUSELAGE: The fuselage is a semimonocoque design and divided into a flight station and large cargo compartment. Seating is provided for each member of the crew in the flight station. The cargo compartment is approximately 41 feet long, 9 feet high, and 10 feet wide. Loading is from the rear of the fuselage. Both the flight station and the cargo compartment can be pressurized to maintain a cabin pressure-altitude of 5,000 feet at an aircraft altitude of 28,000 feet.

WINGS: The full cantilever wing contains four integral main fuel tanks and two bladder-type auxiliary tanks. Two external tanks are mounted under the wings for extended flights.

EMPENNAGE: A horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, elevator, rudder, trim tabs, and a tail cone make up the empennage. This section consists of an all-metal full cantilever semimonocoque structure. It is bolted to the aft fuselage section.

POWER PLANT: (With the exception of the C-130J) Four Allison turboprop engines are attached to the wings. The engine nacelles have cowl panels and access doors forward of a vertical firewall. Clam-shell type doors are located aft of the vertical firewall. Air enters the engine through a scoop assembly at the front of the nacelle.

PROPELLERS: (With the exception of the C-130J) Four Hamiliton Standard electro-hydromatic, constant-speed, full feathering, reversible-pitch propellers are installed on each engine.

LANDING GEAR AND BRAKES: The modified tricycle-type landing gear consists of dual nose gear wheels and tandem mains. Main gear retraction is vertically, into fuselage fairings, and the nose gear folds forward into the fuselage beneath the cockpit. Power steering is incorporated into the nose gear for added control during taxi. The landing gear's shock absorbing design permits aircraft operation from rough, unimproved runways. The brakes are hydraulically operated, multiple-disc type. The braking system incorporates differential braking and parking brake control. A modulating anti-skid system is also provided.

HYDRAULIC: Four engine-driven pumps supply 3,000 psi pressure to the utility and booster systems for the rear ramp. An electric AC motor-driven pump supplies pressure to the auxiliary system and is backed up by a handpump. The hydraulic system automatically activates at 8,000 feet and maintains constant pressure during zero or negative "g" maneuvers to maintain security of cargo while stowed inside the aircraft. In some models the hydraulic system can be manually activated and pressure can be raised or lowered to a desired level.

AIR CONDITIONING AND PRESSURIZATION: Two independent air conditioning systems for the flight deck and cargo compartment are operated from engine bleed air in flight and by the GTC/APU on the ground.

OXYGEN: A 25 liter liquid oxygen (LOX) type system provides for 96 man-hours of oxygen at 25,000 feet. It uses diluter-demand automatic pressure-breathing regulators. Portable units are also provided and system pressure is maintained at 300 psi.

FLIGHT CONTROLS: The primary flight control system consists of conventional aileron, elevator, and rudder systems. Hydraulic power boost is incorporated in each system.

FLAPS: The flaps are high-lift, Lockheed-Fowler type and are of conventional design and construction. Normal operation is by hydraulic motor. Emergency operation is by manual crank.

ANTI-ICING: Engine bleed air is used for anti-icing the wing and empennage leading edges, the radome, and engine inlet air ducts at high altitudes and freezing temperatures. Electrical heat provides anti-icing for the propellers, windshield, and pilot tubes.


The initial production model to enter service was the C-130A, with four Allison T56-A-11 or T56-A-9 turboprop engines. The first prototype flight took place in 1954 and the first production flight followed on April 7, 1955. A total of 219 were ordered and the C-130A joined the U.S. Air Force inventory in December 1956.

The first B models came on board in April 1959. The C-130B was known as the sportscar of the group because it had no wing tanks and had improved ailerons which allowed the B model to have a higher roll rate than previous models. The C-130B was equipped with the T56-A-7 turboprops and four bladed propellers and entered Air Force service in April-June 1959. Additional fuel was carried in tanks built directly into the wings and its landing gear was strengthened to support landings with heavier cargo loads. In 1961, six C-130B's were modified for snatch recovery of classified Air Force satellites and today the C-130B is used in aerial fire fighting missions by Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units across the U.S.

Several C-130A's redesignated C-130D, were modified with wheel-ski landing gear for service in the Arctic and for resupply missions to units along the Distant Early Warning line. The two main skis are 20 feet long, six feet wide, and weigh about 2,000 pounds each. The nose ski is 10 feet long and six feet wide. The D model also has increased fuel capacity and provision for jet-assisted takeoff.

C-130E is an extended-range variation of the C-130B, fitted with two underwing 1,360 gallon fuel tanks and more powerful Allison T-56-A-7A turboprops, the modifications increased range, gross weight and endurance capabilities. A total of 369 were ordered for the Military Airlift Command (MAC) with deliveries beginning in April 1962. A wing modification to correct fatigue and corrosion on models that were already in service extended the life of the aircraft and have kept them functioning to this day. Installation of a Self-Contained Navigation System (SCNS) to enhance navigation capabilities, especially in low-level environments, began in 1990 as well as an autopilot system that incorporated a Ground Collision Avoidance System. Military Airlift Command is the primary user, with more than 200 E models.

Naval/Marine Corps variant. The Marine Corps version, configured as a refuelling aircraft, is outfitted with Allison T-56-A-16 engines and was designated originally as the GV-1.

The Naval variant G model has increased structural strength allowing higher gross weight operation.

The H model has updated Allison T56-A-T5 turboprops, a redesigned outer wing, updated avionics, and other minor improvements. The H models remains in widespread use with the USAF and many foreign air forces.

The C-130J is the newest version of the Hercules. While externally virtually indistinguishable from the classic Hercules, the C-130J is a radically different from other models because of electronic upgrades inside. Rolls-Royce Allison AE2100 turboprops with composite propellers have increased the maximum high altitude cruise speed, combat range, and climb rate. The C-130J can reach 28,000 feet in under 14 minutes. Digital avionics including Heads Up Displays (HUD) for each pilot reduced manpower requirements from 4 to 2 as no navigator or flight engineer are required with the new system.

C-130(A) Hercules General Specifications:

Wing span: 133 feet

Length: 98-106 feet

Height: 38 feet

Weight Empty: 75,331 pounds

Normal Cargo Capacity: 45,000 pounds

Troop Capacity: 94 Soldiers

Paratrooper Capacity: 64 Airborne soldiers

Medevac: 74 litter patients and 2 medical personnel

Maximum Overload Takeoff Weight: 175,000 pounds

Maximum Cruise Speed: 374 mph

Ceiling: 33,000 feet

Range with Maximum Payload at Sea Level: 2,046 nautical miles

Range with Maximum fuel and 20,000 pound payload: 4,460 nautical miles

"Wolfman", former C-130 pilot
Cecil777 for added information on the hydraulic and liquid oxygen systems
And I used to jump out of the fucking things

nodeshell rescue

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.