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Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

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C-124 Globemaster II

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First flight

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Primary users

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United States Air National Guard
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Number built

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Developed from

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Developed into

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The Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, nicknamed "Old Shaky", was a heavy-lift cargo aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California.

The C-124 was the primary heavy-lift transport for United States Air Force Military Air Transport Service (MATS) during the 1950s and early 1960s, until the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter entered service. It served in MATS-gained, later Military Airlift Command (MAC)-gained, units of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard until 1974.

Design and development

Douglas Aircraft developed the C-124 from 1947 to 1949, from a prototype they created from a World War II–design Douglas C-74 Globemaster, and based on lessons learned during the Berlin Airlift. The aircraft was powered by four large Pratt & Whitney R-4360 piston engines producing Script error: No such module "convert". each. The C-124's design featured two large clamshell doors and a hydraulically actuated ramp in the nose as well as a cargo elevator under the aft fuselage. The C-124 was capable of carrying Script error: No such module "convert". of cargo, and the Script error: No such module "convert". cargo bay featured two overhead hoists, each capable of lifting Script error: No such module "convert".. As a cargo hauler, it could carry tanks, guns, trucks and other heavy equipment, while in its passenger-carrying role it could carry 200 fully equipped troops on its double decks or 127 litter patients and their attendants. It was the only aircraft of its time capable of transporting heavy equipment such as tanks and bulldozers without disassembly.

The C-124 first flew on 27 November 1949, with the C-124A being delivered from May 1950.[1] The C-124C was next, featuring more powerful engines, and an APS-42 weather radar fitted in a "thimble"-like structure on the nose. Wingtip-mounted combustion heaters were added to heat the cabin, and enable wing and tail surface deicing. The C-124As were later equipped with these improvements.

One C-124C, 52-1069, c/n 43978, was used as a JC-124C,[2] for testing the Script error: No such module "convert". Pratt & Whitney XT57 (PT5) turboprop, which was installed in the nose.[3][4]

Operational history

File:Phoenix 2011 c124 globemaster.JPG
Nose and front door of a C124.

First deliveries of the 448 production aircraft began in May 1950 and continued until 1955. The C-124 was operational during the Korean War, and was also used to assist supply operations for Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. They performed heavy lift cargo operations for the US military worldwide, including flights to Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere. From 1959 to 1961 they transported Thor missiles across the Atlantic to England. The C-124 was also used extensively during the Vietnam War transporting materiel from the U.S. to Vietnam. Until the C-5A became operational, the C-124, and its sister C-133 Cargomaster were the only aircraft available that could transport very large loads.

The United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC) was the initial operator of the C-124 Globemaster, with 50 in service from 1950 through 1962. Four squadrons operated the type, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Strategic Support Squadrons. Their primary duty was to transport nuclear weapons between air bases and to provide airlift of SAC personnel and equipment during exercises and overseas deployments.

The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) was the primary operator until January 1966, when the organization was retitled Military Airlift Command (MAC). Within a few years following the formation of MAC, the last remaining examples of the C-124 were transferred to the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) and the Air National Guard (ANG), said transfers being complete by 1970. The first ANG unit to receive the C-124C, the 165th Tactical Airlift Group (now known as the 165th Airlift Wing) of the Georgia Air National Guard, was the last Air Force unit to retire their aircraft (AF Serial No. 52-1066 and 53-0044) in September 1974.[5]


File:YC-124 Globemaster II 1954.jpg
The experimental YC-124B-DL powered by four Pratt & Whitney YT-34-P-6 turboprops.
Prototype rebuilt from a C-74 with a new fuselage and powered by four 3,500 hp R-4360-39 engines, it was later re-engined and redesignated YC-124A.
Prototype YC-124 re-engined with four 3,800 hp R-4360-35A engines.
Douglas Model 1129A, production version with four 3,500 hp R-4360-20WA engines; 204 built, most retrofitted later with nose-radar and combustion heaters in wingtip fairings.
Douglas Model 1182E was a turboprop variant of the C-124A with four Pratt & Whitney YT34-P-6 turboprops; originally proposed as a tanker, it was used for trials on the operation of turboprop aircraft.
Douglas Model 1317, same as C-124A but with four 3,800 hp R-4360-63A engines, nose radar, wingtip combustion heaters and increased fuel capacity; 243 built.


23x15px United States

United States Air Force

Air Force Logistics Command
7th Logistic Support Squadron – Robins Air Force Base, Georgia 1952-62
28th Logistics Support Squadron – Hill Air Force Base, Utah 1953-62
19th Logistic Support Squadron – Kelly Air Force Base, Texas 1952-62
Strategic Air Command
1st Strategic Support Squadron – Biggs AFB, Texas 1951-59
2d Strategic Support Squadron – Castle AFB, California
3d Strategic Support Squadron – Hunter AFB, Georgia/Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
4th Strategic Support Squadron – Rapid City AFB, South Dakota/Dyess AFB, Texas
Military Air Transport Service / Military Airlift Command
28th Military Airlift Squadron 1966-67
  • 61st Military Airlift Wing - Hickam AFB, Hawaii
6th Military Airlift Squadron 1966-68
4th Troop Carrier Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron 1951-69
7th Troop Carrier Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron 1951-69
8th Troop Carrier Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron 1951-69
15th Troop Carrier Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron 1952–67
28th Military Airlift Squadron (Hill AFB, Utah) 1967-69
3d Troop Carrier Squadron 1953–63
14th Troop Carrier Squadron 1954-63
52d Troop Carrier squadron 1953-63
53d Troop Carrier Squadron 1954-63
58th Military Airlift Squadron (Robins AFB, Georgia) 1966-67
22d Military Airlift Squadron 1966-69
  • 374th Troop Carrier Group - Tachikawa AB, Japan
22d Troop Carrier Squadron 1952-57
20th Military Airlift Squadron 1954-65
31st Military Airlift Squadron 1966-69
52d Military Airlift Squadron 1967-69 (Rhein-Main AB, Germany)
17th Military Airlift Squadron 1966-69
75th Air Transport Squadron 1960-65
6th Air Transport Squadron 1964-66
48th Air Transport Squadron 1956-65
50th Air Transport Squadron 1955-66
  • 1503 Air Transport Wing - Tachikawa AB, Japan
6th Air Transport Squadron 1958-64
22d Air Transport Squadron 1957-64
1st Air Transport Squadron 1954-60
15th Air Transport Squadron 1955-65
31st Air Transport Squadron 1952-66
20th Air Transport Squadron 1954-65
40th Air Transport Squadron 1954-60
32nd Air Transport Squadron 1953-1964
1740th Air Transport Squadron 1953-66
1741st Air Transport Squadron 1953-64
1742d Air Transport Squadron 1953-66
Air National Guard
105th Military Airlift Squadron
125th Military Airlift Squadron (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
185th Military Airlift Squadron
156th Air Transport Squadron
191st Military Airlift Squadron
133rd Military Airlift Squadron
155th Military Airlift Squadron
158th Military Airlift Squadron
183rd Military Airlift Squadron
Air Force Reserve
731st Military Airlift Squadron
336th Military Airlift Squadron
337th Military Airlift Squadron
756th Military Airlift Squadron
758 Military Airlift Squadron
79th Military Airlift Squadron
  • 916th Troop Carrier Group/Air Transport Group/Military Airlift Group - Carswell AFB, Texas 1963-72
77th Troop Carrier Squadron/Air Transport Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron
  • 917th Troop Carrier Group/Air Transport Group/Military Airlift Group - Barksdale AFB, Louisiana 1963-72
78th Troop Carrier Squadron/Air Transport Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron
700th Air Transport Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron
73d Military Airlift Squadron
303d Troop Carrier Squadron/Air Transport Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron
  • 936th Troop Carrier Group/Air Transport Group/Military Airlift Group - Richards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri 1963-74
304th Troop Carrier Squadron/Air Transport Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron
  • 937 Troop Carrier Group/Air Transport Group/Military Airlift Group - Tinker AFB, Oklahoma 1963-72
305th Troop Carrier Squadron/Air Transport Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron
  • 945th Troop Carrier Group/Military Airlift Group – Hill AFB, Utah 1965–1973
733d Troop Carrier Squadron/Military Airlift Squadron

Accidents and incidents

| |name=Airy Transit }} 700 SW of Ireland. The aircraft was intact when it touched down on the ocean. All hands exited the aircraft wearing life preservers and climbed into the inflated 5-man life rafts. The rafts were equipped with cold-weather gear, food, water, flares, and Gibson Girl hand crank emergency radios. Shortly after the men were in the life rafts, a B-29 pilot out of Ireland spotted the rafts and the flares that the men had ignited. Their location was reported and the pilot left the scene when his fuel was getting low. No other United States or Allied planes or ships made it to the ditch site for over 19 hours, until Sunday, 25 March 1951. When the ships arrived all they found were some charred crates and a partially deflated life raft. Ships and planes continued searching for the next several days but not a single body was found. The men of C-124 #49-0244 had disappeared. There is circumstantial evidence that the airmen may have been "snatched" by the Soviet Union for their intelligence value, but their fate remains a mystery.[6][7] See 1951 Atlantic C-124 disappearance.

  • 22 November 1952: A C-124A flying out of McChord Air Force Base in Washington state crashed into the Colony Glacier on Mount Garrett, 40 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska, killing all 41 passengers and 11 crew. Debris from the plane and remains of some of the victims were found by the Alaska National Guard on June 10, 2012 having apparently been uncovered due to the receding of the glacier.[8]
  • 20 December 1952: A C-124 flying out of Moses Lake, Washington (Larson AFB) and taking airmen home to Texas for the holidays as part of "Operation Sleigh Ride" crashed not long after takeoff. A total of 87 airmen were killed.[9]
  • 18 June 1953: A C-124 took off from Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. Shortly after takeoff, one of the engines failed, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. Due to a loss of airspeed, the pilot lost control and crashed into a melon patch, killing all seven crew and 122 passengers. At the time, it was the worst accident in aviation history.[10]
  • 6 April 1956: C-124 52-1078, crashed on takeoff from Travis AFB. 3 of seven crew members died in the crash. The cause of the crash was attributed to the crossing of the elevator control cables by maintenance personnel.
  • 31 August 1957: C-124C 52-1021, operated by the 1st Strategic Squadron[N 1], crashed during an instrument approach to Biggs Air Force Base in El Paso, Texas, USA, in bad weather after a flight from Hunter AFB near Savannah, Georgia, USA. 5 aircrew were killed, 10 injured.[11][12]
  • 4 September 1957, C-124A 51-5173 en route from Larson AFB, Washington crashed while attempting a landing at Binghamton Airport, Binghamton, New York. The C-124A was delivering 20 tons of equipment for Link Aviation. The crew of nine survived.[13][14]
  • 27 March 1958: C-124C 52-0981 collided in midair with a USAF Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcar, 49-0195, over farmland near Bridgeport, Texas, United States, killing all 15 on the Globemaster and all 3 on the Flying Boxcar. The two transports crossed paths over a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) navigational radio beacon during cruise flight under instrument flight rules in low visibility. The C-124 was on a north-north-easterly heading flying at its properly assigned altitude of 7,000 ft (2,100 m); the C-119 was on a southeasterly heading, and the crew had been instructed to fly at 6,000 ft (1,800 m), but their aircraft was not flying at this altitude when the collision occurred.[15][16]
  • 16 October 1958: C-124C 52-1017 crashed into a 3200 feet mountain near Cape Hallett Bay, killing 7 out of the 13 on board. Navigational errors were made during this air-drop mission over Antarctica.[17]
  • 2 January 1964: 52–0968, a C-124C flying from Wake Island Airfield to Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu disappeared over the ocean, 1,200 km west of Hawaii. Eight crew and one passenger were lost in the accident.[18]
  • 24 June 1965: A United States Air Force Douglas C-124 Globemaster II out of 442nd Wing out of the Richards-Gebaur AFB, crashed just outside of Whiteman AFB, Missouri. The aircraft burned completely except for the wingtips and tail section. All six crewmen escaped before the aircraft was destroyed by the fire. As reported by the Kansas City Star, this was only the second crash of this type; the other occurred on 19 December 1961, killing all seven crewmen.
  • 28 July 1968: A United States Air Force Douglas C-124A 51-5178 flying from Paramaribo-Zanderij to Recife, while on approach to land at Recife, flew into a 1,890 ft high hill, 50 miles (80 km) away from Recife. The 10 occupants died.[19]


File:C-124C landing at Travis AFB 1984.JPEG
C-124C 52–1000 making its last landing at Travis Air Force Base, 10 June 1984.

Specifications (C-124C Globemaster II)

Data from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920[21]

General characteristics


See also

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Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Associated Press article does not give full squadron name, but it is likely that this refers to the 1st Strategic Support Squadron, as this unit operated the C-124 and was based at Biggs AFB.
  1. ^ "C-124C." McCord Air Museum. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  2. ^ Baugher Joe. "USAF serials 1952." American Military Aircraft. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  3. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 470.
  4. ^ Connors 2010, p. 294.
  5. ^ "Douglas C-124 Globemaster II Fact Sheet." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  6. ^ Walker Aviation Museum | The Wonder of Aviation – Past, Present and Future. (23 May 2013). Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  7. ^ Prime, John Andrew (26 March 2011) "Plane's 1951 disappearance still a mystery" Air Force Times.
  8. ^ "Alaska glacier wreckage is 1950s military plane". Yahoo!!News (27 June 2012). Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Accident description 50-0100." Aviation Safety Network, 24 March 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Accident description 51-0137."Aviation Safety Network, 24 March 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  11. ^ Associated Press, "5 Airmen Die in Crash of Globemaster", The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sunday 1 September 1957, page 11.
  12. ^ "1952 USAF Serial Numbers". Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Handte, Jerry. "Co-Pilot Tells How Plane Crashed." Binghamton Press, 5 September 1957, p. 1.
  14. ^ "Accident description 51-5173." Aviation Safety Network, 21 October 2006. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  15. ^ Gero, David B. "Military Aviation Disasters: Significant Losses Since 1908". Sparkford, Yoevil, Somerset, UK: Haynes Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84425-645-7, p. 78.
  16. ^ "1949 USAF Serial Numbers". Retrieved 25 June 2010. 
  17. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-124C Globemaster II 52-1017 Cape Hallett Bay". Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Ranter, Harro and Fabian I. Lujan. "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-124C Globemaster II 52-0968 Hawaii." Aviation Safety Network, 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  19. ^ "Accident description 51-5178." Aviation Safety Network, 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Francillon 1979, pp. 468–471.

External links