Printer Friendly


Give the C-130 Its Due

Betty Raab Kennedy's AMST piece [Air Power History, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp. 2839] was quite interesting, and I, for one, am overjoyed that we have the C-17 in the inventory. However, the author doesn't give the C-130 its due. Her statement "Nor was the C-130 highly regarded as a STOL capable aircraft" doesn't bear close inspection. Granted, the Hercules wasn't designed as a STOL aircraft, but in the literal meaning of short takeoff and landing one can hardly ask for more from an airplane of its size. (The only sizeable non-STOL designed airplane I have flown which could better the C-130s ability is the Grumman Albatross amphibian, a smaller machine with a dissimilar mission.) Runways in Vietnam were classified as Type 1,2, and 3 for each airlift aircraft, C-7, C-123, and C-130--Type 1 being the minimum. For the 0-130, Type 1 was 2,500 feet long, not 3,500 feet as Kennedy states, while 3,500 feet was Type 3 for all three craft. I have landed and stopped C-130Es on a variety of badly surfaced short peapatches, most ly in Vietnam. Coming to a dead stop at the midpoint of 3,000 feet of runway, for example, is nothing exceptional for a reasonably qualified Herk pilot.

A minor technical point: Kennedy refers to "the A and B models." So have I referred to that final letter, so has every other pilot in just about every Air Force airplane. But cursory inspection of various aircraft forms will show the abbreviation "T/M/S," for "Type/Model/Series." For the Hercules I flew, the type is C, the model is 130, and the series is E. Of interest to rivet-counters and academics, mostly. Also makes a pretty good basis for bar bets.

Col. Robert J. Powers, USAF (Ret.)

AMST Author Replies

I believe the C-130 has been a very good aircraft, and we now have the C-130J-30. If I were a true, diehard C-130 pilot, I would probably have launched an attack on the sentence in question, but I'm not. The historian in me was providing the historical context for justifying an AMST acquisition.

People wanted more--especially in STOL landing--somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 ft., according to Gen. William W. Momyer. (1) "Basically the problem is range and payload with the light transports, and takeoff and landing performance of the C-130," a TAC briefer told Congress in 1970. (2) The action officers who worked on the AMST program and drafted the requirement and concept documents were tactical airlifters--mostly C-130 pilots who had flown in Vietnam. They wanted more: "The C-130 has been the heart of the tactical airlift system; however, the aircraft is severely limited in Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) performance, ground flotation, speed, and cargo compartment size." (3)

The present medium tactical transport is the Lockheed C-130. Since its entry into the inventory in 1956, it has been operated as both a strategic and a tactical transport. The C-130 was not designed for maximum performance, STOL landings and cannot meet the STOL or California Bearing Ratio (CBR) ratings needed to adequately support forward area mobility requirements. Forward area support with the C-130 has resulted in hazardous operations. Basic safety criteria, such as critical field length and minimum control speeds, have of necessity been routinely discarded in order to provide even minimal payloads into runways 3,000 ft. and under. While aerial delivery (parachute) techniques have allowed delivery of certain types of supplies and equipment by the C-130 in forward areas, airlanding is preferred by all the services in order to reduce assembly time for troops, reduce equipment damage, and provide for return loads that produce more cost effective aircraft utilization. (4)

I know that C-130s perform better than their given specs, and the C-130s were life savers in Vietnam. But, in testing, the YC-15 did land in 2,100 ft., and the YC-14 achieved 800 and 1,500-ft. landings. The 0-17 set a STOL payload and altitude world record on June 3, 1994, when a P-2 carried 44,088 lbs. to an altitude of 6,562 ft. On this occasion, the P-2 took off in 1,369 ft. and landed in 1,356 ft. (5) Current C-17 specs state the aircraft will land in 2,700 ft. with a 166,965- lb. payload. (6) Placing this against the real world, for example in Bosnia, the C-17 and C-130 flew into Sarajevo. Although 8,530 ft. long, the runway only had a useable length of 5,860 ft. According to Lt. Col. Joseph Reheiser, with only a few forklifts, it was taking the French 30 minutes to unload a C-130, carrying four pallets, weighing some 34,000 lbs. When the French got word to expect a C-17 with eighteen pallets, they scheduled an hour ground time. The C-17, however, discharged its 154,000-lb. load and was airborne again in 31 minutes after touching down. (7) Again in Kosovo, the C-17 would bring in three to four times the load of a C-130 into the small airfield at Tirana, Albania. A comparison of the deployment statistics between the C-130s and the twelve TACON'd C-17s is especially interesting. Between the two, the C-17 performed 67.5 percent of the missions, transported 68.9 percent of the passengers, and hauled 93.7 percent of the cargo. (8) The C-17's outsize cargo hauling capabilities, which the C-130 does not have, was coming into play here with the task force novements. Y et, within their capabilities, C-130s performed well in Bosnia and Kosovo.

With regard to the issue of semi-prepared and unprepared runways, we all need to remember that we are essentially dealing with dirt, and both the C-130 and C-17 have limitations on such runways, albeit the C-17 would carry in three to four times as much, plus outsize cargo, in just one landing. However, the C-17 would probably incur more FOD than the C-130.

The C-17 is truly an awesome dual-role airlifter, and we will have both the C-17 and the C-130 for many years to come--each building upon its historical accomplishments. I want those who develop the next airlifter after the C-17 to do so grounded in the past, but also open to other possibilities. I have tremendous respect for those who served on the AMST and C-X/C-17 task forces for being visionaries and tenacious.

Betty R. Kennedy

(1.) Ltr., Gen. William W. Momyer to Gen. Jack J. Catton, [Air Staff CDP on V/STOL LIT], Dec. 12, 1969.

(2.) Hngs, House, Military Airlift: Hearings before Subcommittee on Military Airlift of the Committee on Armed Services, 91st Cong., 2d sess, 1970, 6392.

(3.) Document, HQ TAC, Required Operational Capability For Medium STOL Transport (TACROC No, 52-69), May 1970, p 1.

(4.) Ibid., pp 2, 3.

(5.) List, National Aeronautic Association, [World Records], Jun 1996; Point Paper, HQ AMCITEA, "0-17 World Records," May 12, 1995.

(6.) 0-17 First Look Aircraft Systems Handbook (USAF Air Mobility Warfare Center, May 1995), p 1-3.

(7.) Article, "Making The Grade In Bosnia," Aviation Week & Space Technology, Aug. 19, 1995, p S3.

(8.) Briefing, Maj Martin Beard, USAFE! AMOCO, "Allied Force: Intra-Theater Air Mobility," Sep. 1999.

More Slanguage

Since I served in England from 1966 to 1969, I found the listing of English slang terms of interest. I do have one addition and two possible corrections.

The word "do" was for an event, such as, "a big do at the club." It was still used when I served in England, and sometimes I still use it. A "dustbin" was a trash can, and the men who emptied the containers were called "dustmen." Also, a F/Sgt. Told me that "codswallop" was fish residue at the bottom of a ship's hull that had mixed with seawater. It gave off a foul odor and looked terrible to boot.

MSgt. David W, Menard, USAF (Ret.), Huber Heights, Ohio

Operator Error!

While spell-checking the article, "Aeroplanes of Lebedev's Factory," by Viktor Kulikov [APH, Vol. 48, No. 4], your editor hit the wrong key and thereby changed the French airplane designer's name from Deperdussin to Depredation. Mea culpa.

Defending Switzerland

In her review of Stephen Tanner's book, Refuge from the Reich: American Airmen and Switzerland during World War II [Air Power History, Vol. 48, No. 4, Winter 2001], Dr. Edwina Campbell refers to the "ambiguity of Swiss neutrality"

I am a member of the Arbeitshreis gelebte Geschichte (Working Circle of Lived History), an association including retirees of the Swiss Air Force. Our mission is to straighten out the besmirching of Switzerland's World War II past. Therefore, I take exception to Dr. Campbell's statements concerning Switzerland and her criticism of what Tanner has to say.

Swiss neutrality during the war was not ambiguous. Being surrounded by Axis powers it was unavoidable and a matter of survival to do some business with Germany. Switzerland needed permission to transport food across Nazi-occupied territory, and to obtain German coal for its industries and homes. For a while, Swiss manufacturers were on an Allied "black list." With few exceptions, the Swiss people hated the dictatorships surrounding their nation, and greatly enjoyed welcoming American flyers who were shot down, although their experiences were not always happy. As internees, the Americans felt it was their duty to try and escape through Germanoccupied France.

Dr. Campbell mentions Sweden, Portugal, and Spain as "neutral" countries. But Sweden was an important supplier of steel for the Nazis and, if I am informed correctly, even once allowed German troops to cross its country on the way to Norway. Portugal was Germany's main supplier of manganese, and Spain was very "partly neutral," with Francisco Franco, another dictator, who had been strongly supported by Hitler's Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War.

There are a few books which I would recommend to Dr. Campbell: Ewen Montagu's thrilling The Man Who Never Was (Lippincott, 1953). It describes how the British fooled the Nazis by dropping a uniformed dead body loaded with false information about a planned landing on the coast of Spain, well knowing that any information would be passed on to the Nazis. Another great book is Between the Alps and a Hard Place by Angelo M. Codevilla (Regnery, 2000). Codevilla is a professor of international relations at Boston University and his documentation is as complete as humanly possible. Another best seller here is Stephen P. Halbrook's Target Switzerland (Sarpedon, 1998).

Stephen Tanner's book describes an aspect of events at a time when I was an air observer in the Swiss Air Force, so I can at least in part refer to events and experiences that I personally witnessed. The late Col. Geoffrey von Meiss (page 146) was my squadron leader. The crew shot down on June 8, 1940, consisted of two of my friends. Rudolph Rickenbacher piloted the Me-109D shot down on June 4, 1940. His brother Hans crashed on May 5, 1945. Both must have been related to the famous American ace Eddie Rickenbacker, who had Swiss parents and died in Zurich on July 1922. To my mind Tanner's Refuge from the Reich is a "good book."

Florian E. Dauatz, Minusio, Switzerland

Texas Towers: The Rest of the Story

The story of the early warning radar platforms, anchored some 30 fathoms deep in the Atlantic Ocean, off the northeast coast of the United States, is mentioned in Kenneth Schaffel's The Emerging Shield: The Air Force and Evolution of Continental Air Defense, 1945-1960, (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1991, Pp. 219-20). Donald Slutzky, a technical representative with the Burroughs Corp. who serviced computer data on one of these platforms, Texas Tower-4 (TT-4), (see photo above right) seeks to complete the record and correct some minor errors.

In Slutzky's version, on September 12, 1960, Hurricane Donna battered TT-4 with 132 mile-per-hour winds and waves in excess of 50 feet. A Coast Guard cutter, sent to evacuate the military and civilian personnel aboard the tower, was diverted to aid a fishing vessel in distress. By the time that the cutter had returned to IT-4, however, the storm was so fierce that no transfers were possible.

In November, after working for a year on TIP-4, Slutzky and others aboard the tower decided to leave, believing that the structure was unsafe. In fact, the extensive damage to the tower forced the Air Force and its construction contractor to designate February 1, 1961, as the date to begin completely renovating TT-4. Subsequently, the tower's radars were shut down and the full complement of 100 personnel was replaced with a volunteer repair crew of 14 Air Force military and 14 civilian contract maintenance workers. Tragically, on January 15, 1961, a fierce winter gale collapsed the tower and all hands aboard perished. For more complete information on this topic contact:
COPYRIGHT 2002 Air Force Historical Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Air Power History
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Mar 22, 2002
Previous Article:History Mystery.
Next Article:In Memoriam.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters