In 1994 I combined family holidays (Black Hills, Mt.Rushmore, Badlands Nat'l Park, Sturgis Biker Festival, Yellowstone Nat'l Park) with a visit to Hawkins & Powers, located rather remotely at Greybull, Wyoming.
As I came unannounced, my request to photograph H&P's aircraft, was frowned upon. But a quick clarification of my interest was smilingly ("a bit weird" could be read in their eyes, I thought) accepted. With a "sure, go ahead, mind the snakes out there..", I was allowed on the ramp and in the desert storage area.
This Consolidated PBY4 Privateer is a real dinosaur ! Who could have believed this product of the 1940s would still be around in the 21st Century... active !|
Hawkins and Powers have 5 still on active duty. This one here is N7962C (c/n 59882), Tanker 126.
The PBY4-2 Privateer was a development from the World War II bomber B-24 Liberator and was intended for long-range coastal patrols. It had a range of 4.500 kms, cruising speed 225 km/h and saw service with the U.S.Navy and the French Navy. Some 736 were produced and first entered service in 1945. Crews nicknamed it "Two-by-Four".
The Privateer was also used for "spy-flights" during the Cold War. In fact, when in April 1950 Russian MiG-15 fighters shot down a PBY4-2 over the Baltic Sea, it was the first victim in a war of "electronic surveillance" that would last 30 years.
Joe McAdams, who flew PBY4s for H&P (Tanker 126 during the 1974 fire season and PB4Y Tanker 127 during the 1975 season), volunteered the following information on the engines: "The PB4Y Privateer originally had Pratt and Whitney R-1830 engines, but all the tankers operated by H&P were converted to Wright R-2600's for fire suppression. This was an "in house " modification designed by Gene Powers. The R-2600 engines were the same used on the North American "Mitchell" B-25.."
N130HP (c/n 3146) is a Lockheed C-130A Hercules, formerly operated by the US Air Force as 56-0538. Even though it's over 30 years old, it's the most
modern equipment with Hawkins & Powers (and with most airtanker companies).|
Tanker 130 sat here on the ramp to get some maintenance done; the pilot was anxious to get back to his station of contract as his family had just flown over to spend some time with him and now he was back in Wyoming ! Airtanker crews will spend months away from home, as far away as Alaska, to cover the dry season on contract to (e.g.) US Forest Service (USFS).
Tanker 130 and its 3-crew met its fate on June 17th, 2002 while fighting a fire at Walker,Nevada; for more details: Tanker 130 down !!!
Lockheed C-130A Hercules N133FF (c/n 3143) is used as spareparts supply source. In later years it were the tyres (to keep it down in gale force winds ?) which
identified this Herc as they took of the tail and the registration with it. With the USAF it was registered as 56-0535.|
Have a look at a photo Ralph Pettersen sent me, taken in May 2003.
Another former Navy patrol aircraft popular with the airtanker industry is the Lockheed Neptune. As you can see H & P have quite a few lined up as spare in
their backyard (a bit of desert, where I was still a bit jumpy because of that snake warning they'd given me previously..!).|
The Lockheed P-2V (redesignated P-2 in 1962) was used in large numbers by the US Navy during the first half of the Cold War, to fight the threat of Russian submarines. Some 1200 flew with various air forces, including the Dutch Navy (Marine Luchtvaart Dienst aka MLD), which is my 'backyard'.
The range of the Neptune, which was produced in many variants, was 5900 km at a cruising speed of some 600 km/h (using the 2 Westinghouse J34 jet engines next to the 2 Wright R-3350 piston engines !).
Another former USAF transport: N97KC (c/n 17000) is a Boeing Stratotanker and flew with the USAF as 53-0218. |
What a year 1953 was: production in full swing of the Fairchild C-119, Boeing Stratocruiser, Douglas C-124 Globemaster, Lockheed Constellation, Convair C-131 Samaritan, Douglas C-118 (DC-6) Liftmaster.... !
The C-97(Model 367) was named Stratofreighter or Stratotanker; the commercial version (Model 377) was called Stratocruiser.
At one time it served as a roadside restaurant, "The Flight 97 Restaurant" in McMinnville, Oregon. They brought it back to airworthiness and flew it to Greybull. Only to be stored again.
While H & P only operated 1 Strat, they show quite a few for spare here, parked in the desert !|
Boeing took the lower fuselage (and the wings) of the Boeing B-29 bomber and redesigned the upper fuselage and thus came the Boeing C-97 into being. The USAF intended to transport tanks, howitzer guns, 2.5 ton trucks, etc with this one and needed volume in the upper lobe of the fuselage. The standard powerplant became Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major engines, rated 3.500 hp. But later these Stratofreighters (widely in use with the Air National Guard) were refitted with extra General Electric J47-GE-25 jet engines.This was because it was slow compared to most and since it was decided to convert them into tankers (KC-97 Stratotankers), it had to match the speed of the planes on the receiving end !
It was the last piston-engined plane built by Boeing.
As Boeing 377 it became quite successful with civil operators (first flown in 1947). Pan American was the first to accept the Stratocruiser. To name some other operators: British Overseas Airways Corporation, Northwest Airlines, American Overseas Airlines and United Air Lines.
C-119G 53-8150 (c/n 253) was entered in the FAA Register as N37636 for Hawkins & Powers. H&P specialises in airtankers and
the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar (a nickname by the crews, that stuck and later became officially accepted) was a bit underpowered for this task. So on this one there was probably never an attempt to convert it to an airtanker, but it could help as a spares supply to other aircraft in use and now it sits on the ramp as part of a rather basic museum.|
The Flying Boxcar was used with the USAF for transport, medical evacuation, para drops and as a gunship ("Shadow" or "Stinger") in Vietnam. It was also delivered to the US Navy, US Marines and air forces of Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Taiwan and South Vietnam.
Another Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, but the identity is a mystery to me. The paintjob and titles on the fuselage make this a former Royal Canadian Air Force example. On the nose vaguely 06 can be seen. Anyone with the identity of this aircraft ?|
For a larger picture, click Mystery C-119.
Aad van der Voet has this to say (Nov.2008) on 22106:
Here's another one.... it too has 06 on the nose ! Maybe it's not relevant to the RCAF serial ?|
This one is parked at the entry of the H&P office building, wouldn't you like to have one of these in your front garden or would the wife object ? Please email me, if you think you can identify this one.
If you want to have a look at a larger photo, click on mystery no.2
Over a number of years I have written and sent emails to H&P for identification of certain aircraft but was always ignored. Later I learned that staff was told to keep stumm to any such inquiries. This has led me to believe H&P wanted to hide the fact they swapped parts around or how they maintained their aircaft in isolated Greybull.
Both, the C-119 ' 06' and the bare metal Beech 18, enjoy a prolonged existence as photos of Oct.2013 show on my page Greybull Log Report. For a further update see my visit in Oct.2014 (but alas no solution to the identification).
This seems a straight forward shot of N5216R "Tanker 136" seen with the Museum display on H&P's ramp at Greybull in 1994. Except it isn't, I'll explain further down...|
The real N5216R sits as Tanker 137 at a disused museum at Battle Mountain,NV.
For the identity of this Tanker 136 (H&P moved parts around on these aircraft like there was no tomorrow) I have Cyril Defever to thank as he noticed on a slide of mine (which we traded) that there was a registration visible under Tanker 136's tailnumber: N3935 ! So this is C-119G c/n 10824 (ex RCAF 22113).
Walt Redmond wrote me in Sep.2005:"I've been to Greybull four times - '79, '89, '98, and '99. I shot every large aircraft on the field during my '89 and '98 visits. The museum N5216R T136 I saw in '98 is indeed c/n 10824 N3935. Although they added a radome to the aircraft that I had photographed in '89!"
Joe McAdams offered me the following on the engine pods on top of the fuselage:|
"The C-119's you show were used as tankers. In addition to the Wright 3350 radial engines, H&P installed a J-34 (or J-35, I'm not sure which) from a P2V-7 Neptune on top of the center section of the fuselage. It burned the same Avgas the reciprocating engines used, and was started prior to a drop. We had eight or ten of these aircraft when I was flying for H&P (1974 7 1975), and did the jet pod modification in house, as well."
This Fairchild C-82 Packet was a forerunner of the C-119 Flying Boxcar. Production was initiated in 1944 and all 219 except 2 were produced by Fairchild (the other 2 by North American). It was used as a troop transport, medical evacuation and glider towing. Production was completed in 1948.
It had a crew of 5, cruising speed of 190 mph (304 km/h) and a range of almost 700 kms.
N9701F was used by TWA in the 1960s, to ferry engines around Europe.
It is seen here included with the museum on H&P's ramp.
In Oct.2006 it was bought at an auction and flown (!) to Hagerstown,MD to become part of the Hagerstown Aviation Museum; it arrived on Oct. 15th and the purchase was made for usd 140.250,-
In an attempt to solve the mysteries, I have compiled a list of various logs and hope people will contribute info that will lead to all registrations accounted with a construction number, click HERE !.|
Ralph Pettersen sent me some photos taken in May 2003 of (un)identified airframes at Greybull.
Here are some taken in 1983 at Greybull by Fred de Ruiter
--> Gateway to my C-119 pages <--
Background info on Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar|
More on HP's inventory and fate of most of the aircraft on my Greybull's Log Report page, including a number of images of the newly established 'aerial firefighting aviation museum'.
Ed Brewer sent me, alongside some photos, a request for information on Campbell Airstrip, in Anchorage, Alaska:
Chuck Lunsford wrote a book about his days as a radio operator onboard the C-119:|
Both books can be bought through Amazon.com
|Another writer, Larry E. Fletcher (ex USAF Captain), used his personal experience to write a novel about the C-119 Gunship in Vietnam: "Shadows of Saigon, Air Commandos in SE Asia".|
Here's the USAF Museum's file on the C-119 "Flying Boxcar"