50 Amazing Facts About The C-130 Hercules

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built by Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin). Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medevac, and cargo transport aircraft. More than 40 variants of the Hercules, including civilian versions marketed as the Lockheed L-100, operate in more than 60 nations. The C-130 entered service with the U.S. in 1956, followed by Australia and many other nations. In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft to mark 50 years of continuous service with its original primary customer, which for the C-130 is the United States Air Force. The C-130 Hercules is the longest continuously produced military aircraft at more than 60 years, with the updated Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules currently being produced.

C-130 Hercules Is A Multirole Aircraft

50. The C-130 Hercules is one of the most versatile aircraft ever produced. It’s seen duty as one of the largest cargo transport vehicles, air assault support aircraft, done multiple reconnaissance missions, search and rescue around the world, maritime patrol, refueling aircraft and even as a firefighter during natural disasters. Now you can see why this aircraft is loved by soo many.

C-30 Operates In 60 Nations

49. Over 2,400 C-130s have been delivered across more than 60 nations. Over 40 different variations of the C-130 exist. Some nations use these massive aircraft for humanitarian reason, some use them for military applications, and others use them for delivering anything and everything. Depending on the nation’s needs will depend on how they get it built and what they use it for.

C-130 Lifted Above Its Maximum Payload Capacity

48. While evacuating Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the final days of the Vietnam war in April 1975, a C-130 actually lifted 20,000 pounds above its listed maximum payload capacity. When attempting to go over the limit of what the manufacturer states the aircraft can do. You are than taking your life and others lives in your hands because the airplanes aren’t safely rated for that.

C-130 Lifted 452 Humans

47. That 20,000 pound excess from the last fact? It was 452 humans – 360 more people than the C-130 is designed to carry. The C-130 was the last plane not destroyed at the airfield, and it was leaving for good in the midst of heavy enemy fire. The manufacturer doesn’t state the limit of the aircrafts abilities. They state the limits to “safely” operate the aircraft.

A 105 mm Howitzer Is Inside The C-130

46. A 105 mm Howitzer is housed inside of the AC-130J variant. The AC-130J is a long-endurance, heavy duty air-to-ground combat plane. The decision had been made to halt use of the 105mm gun in favor of missiles like the AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-176 Griffin as well as the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb. The Air Force started out by adding the 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.

C-130 Are Used In Response To Natural Disasters

45. Natural disasters usually see the C-130 respond almost before any other fixed-wing aircraft because of it’s ability to land on short or unprepared runways. They are also used heavily in natural disasters due to it’s ability to carry a large amount of cargo for recovery supplies. However, it appears a natural disaster may have gotten the best of this particular C-130.

C-130 Is The Longest Continually Produced Aircraft

44. Out of all production military aircraft, the C-130 represents the longest continually produced family of aircraft. The C-130 has been in production since 1954. This aircraft has been in production long enough that the company who makes it: Lockheed Martin holds a Guinness World Record for the longest production run for a military aircraft. With that being said the company has also made over 2,400 of these massive aircrafts.

C-130 Is The United States Main Tactical Airlifter

43. The C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medevac, and cargo transport aircraft. It is the main tactical airlifter for the United States – as well as many other nations. Some of these other nations use this aircraft as their main transportation vehicle, while others have found multiple uses for this massive aircraft. One thing that is for sure is that all nations have found a need for these aircraft.

U.S. Use Various C-130 Variants

42. Main versions of the C-130 that are currently in use by the Air Force are the C-130E, C-130H, C-130J and C-130J-30. The main differences between these different variations are the engine sizes. The C-130E has four Allison T56-A-7 turboprops; 4,200 prop shaft horsepower, the C-130H has four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops; 4,591prop shaft horsepower, and the C-130J has four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops; 4,700 horsepower. The C-130J-30 also adds an additional 15ft of cargo space.

C-130 Used In 10 Active Missions

41. Its latest and possibly greatest variation – the C-130J Hercules – is currently in use in more than 10 active missions worldwide. Those missions include military reconnaissance, military cargo movement, military air support. They are also finding many other uses for these massive aircraft. For example Antarctic expedition trips, civilian cargo transport or even air mobile communications stations. There is no denying the multiple abilities of these aircraft.

Countries Ordered 300 New C-130Js

40. The Unites States Air Force, as well as those in Italy, Canada, Norway and Denmark are under contract for more than 300 new C-130Js. Even with the increased price of the C-130Js Nations come to understand the undeniable and irreplicable uses of these massive cargo aircraft. Whether they use them for military support missions or cargo transport for civilian use. These aircraft are extremely versatile.

A C-130 Was Found In Antarctica

39. In 1971, a ski-equipped LC-130 crashed in Antarctica on takeoff. It was buried in an icy valley for 17 years before the Navy decided to pull it out and repair the damage. It later was put back into service. The primary mission of the LC-130 is supporting the scientific community in Antarctica by transporting cargo and personnel from the McMurdo Station to field stations and camps, including the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station.

C-130 Has A Maximum Takeoff Of 55,000 Pounds

38. The C-130 has a maximum takeoff weight of 155,000 pounds, which is just about the same weight as a space shuttle. Let’s think about that for a minute. 155,000 pounds is similar to 2 fully loaded tractor trailers or 2 and a half bulldozers. 155,000 pounds is even more than one of the heaviest military tanks in history as the M1A2 Abrams tank comes in at around 130,000 pounds.

More Than 40,000 Pounds Of Cargo And Supplies

37. More than 40,000 pounds of cargo and supplies can be carried in the C-130. That’s about the same weight as three elephants combined. In order to carry that much weight, this aircraft relies on the technology of its 4 turboprops that increase in horsepower with the C-130J coming in at 18,800 horsepower. Just to give you an idea of how much that really is. The average tug boat only has up to 3,400 horsepower.

EC-130E Commando Solo Hercules Has Unique Features

36. A special variation of the C-130, the EC-130E Commando Solo Hercules, transmitted radio and TV broadcasts several hours a night over Iraq. This was a part of psychological warfare campaigns prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The EC-130E is part of an Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center known as (ABCCC 3). The USC-48 ABCCC III capsule, which fits into the aircraft cargo compartment, measures 40 feet long, weighs approximately 20,000 pounds and costs $9 million each.

C-130J Has Better Range And More Thrust Compared To Its Predecessors

35. The new C-130J, compared to its predecessors, has one-third better range, 25 percent more thrust, and 15 percent better fuel efficiency than A-H models. This could be contributed to the more advanced technologies used in the upgraded Rolls Royce turboprops that are used in the C-130J. The previous models used four Allison turboprops that were not as technologically advanced.

C-130J Hercules Has A Max Speed Of 417mph

34. The C-130J Hercules has a max speed of 417 mph at 22,000 feet of altitude. The original C-130 could make it up to about 366 mph. The main reason for this speed increase is due to the upgraded Rolls Royce Turbo Props that increase the overall horsepower between 400 more than the C-130H and 2,000 more horsepower than the C-130E.

C-130J-30 Is The Variant With The Largest Payload Capacity

33. 44,000 pounds of payload is how much the C-130J-30 can carry – the most of any C-130. variation. The rest carry 40,000 pounds or 42,000 pounds. The C-130J-30 is able to do this by utilizing four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops; 4,700 horsepower instead of the four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops in the C-130H or four Allison T56-A-7 turboprops in the C-130E. The C-130J-30 also adds an extra 15ft of cargo space to the cargo area.

C-130J Costs $48.5 Million Per Unit

32. According to the Air Force’s most recent stats, the C-130J costs $48.5 million per unit. That is up from around the original $11.5 million of the C-130E.With that being said, the higher price is not slowing down orders. The State Department released a statement of approval for a Foreign military sale of $2.2 Billion Dollars to Egypt. Now that is impressive.

C-130 Hercules Has Logged Over One Million Flight Hours

31. The C-130 Hercules has logged over two million flight hours flying special missions like combat missions and humanitarian duty. This aircraft has been in production long enough to log over two million flight miles which has given the manufacturing company Lockheed Martin the Guinness World Record For Longest production run for a military aircraft. Some Guinness records are not as impressive, but this one definitely is impressive.

C-130J Holds The Record For Highest Altitude Landing

30. A C-130J in the India Air Force holds the record for highest altitude landing of any aircraft in its class. Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip is the highest airstrip in the world.

The C-130 Is The Largest Aircraft To Land On An Aircraft Carrier

29. Another record the C-130 holds involves the ocean. The C-130 is the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier.

MC-130 Dropped The GBU-43 Bomb

28. The GBU-43 is the largest conventional bomb ever dropped in combat. It was dropped by a MC-130.

Airbus A-400M Uses The C-130 Engine Test Bed

27. Airbus A-400M, a similar but newer and more advanced style of cargo plane, used the C-130 as an engine test bed.

C-130 Has Flown Over 100 Different Styles Of Missions

26. Lockheed claims the C-130 has flown over 100 different styles of missions in its six-decade plus lifetime.

C-130J-30 Variation Added 15 Feet To The Overall Length

25. The C-130J-30 is a variation of the C-130 that added 15 feet to the overall length of the aircraft. Normally, six full sized pallets fit in the C-130, but eight pallets fit in the C-130J-30.

C-130 Has Many Nicknames

24. Unofficial nicknames for the C-130 are Herk, Herky Bird, Slick, Fat Albert.

The C-130 Has Unique Fold-down Ramp

23. The C-130 uses a unique fold-down ramp in its rear that allows vehicles to be driven into the cargo bay.

HC-130J Combat King Is A Fixed-wing Personnel Recovery Craft

22. The Air Force’s only fixed-wing personnel recovery craft is the HC-130J Combat King. The Combat King is outfitted specifically to avoid early detection.

Active C-130s Operate Out Of Four Locations

21. Active duty locations for the C-130 are: Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and Yokota AB, Japan.

C-130 Has Updated Engines

20. The original engines in the C-130 were four Allison T56-A-11 or -9 turboprop engines with three blades on the propeller. Now, the C-130J has Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprop engines with six blades.

C-130A Was The Original Production Design

19. The initial production design was labeled the C-130A. It was submitted in 1951 and not a whole lot about the bones of the aircraft has changed since then.

C-130 Received A New Navigation System

18. A state of the art navigation system is a part of the most recent C-130 upgrade. It now includes a dual inertial system as well as GPS.

The Korean War Illustrated the Necessity To Build A New Cargo Aircraft

17. The Korean War made the Air Force recognize it had no aircraft capable of airlifting combat troops over medium distances to short, undeveloped airfields.

Willis Hawkins Made The Layout Of The C-130

16. Willis Hawkins created the layout of the C-130. Hawkins was also responsible for the Corona satellite, Polaris missile, and M1 Abrams tank.

C-130’s Official Proposal Was 110 Pages

15. The C-130’s official proposal was 110 pages. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s official proposal was 2,500 pages.

The Cargo Was Designed Around The M551 Sheridan Tank

14. The cargo bay was designed around the M551 Sheridan tank. Willis Hawkins drew a circle around the tank and started the plane’s design from that width and depth.

C-130 Has A Long Ramp

13. “The basic C-130, aft of the cockpit and before the ramp, is the length of a railroad boxcar,” Lockheed Martin historian Jeff Rhodes says.

The C-130 Entered Combat In 1956

12. The C-130 entered combat in 1956 and the first combat loss came in 1958. A C-130A-II was shot down over Armenia during a recon mission.

C-130 Has Operated In Many Commands

11. The C-130 has seen time with the U.S. Air Force, serving in the Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command.

C-130 Has Had Successful and Failed Rescue Missions

10. The 1976 Israeli Raid on Entebbe was a successful rescue mission for the C-130. The 1980 Iranian Hostage rescue mission was a failed rescue mission for the C-130.

C-130 Has A Range Of About 2,000 Miles

9. 92 troops can be accommodated inside of the C-130. At max capacity, the C-130 has a range of about 2,000 miles.

C-130 Prototype Was The YC-130

8. The prototype YC-130’s first flight was on Aug. 23, 1954. It took off in only 800 feet of runway at Lockheed’s Burbank, California plant.

C-130Bs Dropped A lot Of Bombs In Vietnam

7. In 1968, C-130Bs dropped a pair of 10,000-pound bombs in Vietnam in order to clear landing zones for helicopters.

Pilots Love The C-130

6. The C-130 is a thrill to fly, according to pilots. “We’ve been accused of making a pilot’s airplane,” Lockheed Martin C-130 Chief Experimental Test Pilot, Wayne Roberts said.

C-130 Has A Massive Wingspan

5. The wingspan of a C-130 is 132 feet 7 inches wide. That’s as long as two bowling lanes.

C-130J Holds 74 Medical Litters

4. The C-130J holds 74 medical litters. The C-130J-30 holds 128 medical litters.

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Every Pilot Has A Heads-up Display

3. Each pilot has a heads-up display which includes: global digital map unit, portable mission display, GPS landing system sensor unit, and a LCD multifunctional flight control interface.

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C-130 Flew Out Of Different Countries During Vietnam

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2. During the Vietnam War, C-130 crews and pilots would consistently rotate in and out of South Vietnam from the Philippines, Taiwan, Okinawa, and Japan.

Marietta Was The First Production Site Of The C-130

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1. In June of 2017, over half of Lockheed Martin’s 5,000 employees at it’s Marietta, Ga. location worked on a C-130 Hercules. Marietta was the first production site of the C-130.