Fairchild C-119 "Boxcar", Background Information

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There was very little literature on the Fairchild C-119s and no reference books on the individual C-119 individual histories. So I started this page in an attempt to learn a little more about 'the Dollar Nineteen'; when I started Wikipedia wasn't there yet.
Meanwhile the invitation to send contributions for sharing first hand experiences on these airplanes still stands.

Chuck Lunsford, radio operator on the 'Flying Spam Can' during the 1950s, offered the following:
"The C-82 Packet was the original design concept for an aircraft to be a heavy cargo lifter, rather than a converted airliner, was done by North American Aviation during WW II. North American built a few, but the contract for the rest was let to Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, beginning in 1946.
C-82s had Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines, with some sort of three-bladed props. The aircraft was seriously underpowered, and they lost a few because of that. It was also structurally weak. Booms would fall off, and it was possible to retract the landing gear on the ground. It was a good idea, but North American's design left a lot to be desired. Many of the men I know who flew them were about half afraid of their C-82s.

C-82A N9701F (c/n 10184) was used by TWA in the 1960s, to ferry engines around Europe.
In Oct.2006 N9701F found a new home with the Hagerstown Aviation Museum (in Maryland).

It's former USAF serial was 45-57814.
It is seen here at Greybull,WY in 1994 on H&P's ramp. Photo: R.Leeuw
Ken Swartz came across N9701F at the Hagerstown Aviaton Museum in Oct.2018, see the
Kenneth I. Swartz gallery on my website

The first 'Flying Boxcar' was designated the XC-82B, and looked like a C-119. They decided to solve the power problems in the new airplane, so it had P&W 4360s with big 4-bladed props -- I don't know which prop manufacturer. The Air Force thought it was enough of a departure from the C-82, so the new airplane was given it's own designation - C-119. Still officially named Packet, the new design would carry the unofficial nick-name Flying Boxcar for the rest of its days. The Air Force ordered 55 of them in 1948-49, designated C-119B models. More modifications came little by little. The booms were weak in the B model, so they added dorsal fins, reworked the horizontal and vertical stabilizers (although they never made the rudders big enough in any C-119, except the single H model-a C model reworked to compete for the contract eventually won by Lockheed with the C-130 Hercules), and the B models went to Korea for that war.
The next model was the C model of which the most C-119s were built in 1950, '51 and '52. These had P&W 4360s, with Hamilton Standard props, most reversible, some not. The Hamiltons sometimes went into reverse when they were not supposed to.

"53-8145 was photographed by Ed Travis, taken at Rhein-Main shortly after they got the new airplanes, and before the whole wing was moved to Dreux."
"The Lt. sitting in the doorway is Gilbert "Pineapple" Aio from Hawaii and the Lt. standing is Ben Farmer from Louisana."

"John Traficante, the new Crew Chief/flight engineer, to whom 8145 was given, had just polished it and as you see, it's brand new. He told me that he got half of it polished, and the aircraft was scheduled on a mission to Dharahn, Saudi Arabia, and Traf told me he had to listen to the pilot bitch about 8145 wanting to fly sideways all the way there and back, because of more drag on one side than the other. They had to crank in some rudder trim to offset it.
Note the detached clamshell doors of the airplane in the background. They must have been dropping equipment that day."

A good many of the last ones built as C models, were modified in the field as F models. This consisted of dual nosewheel tire to replace the old single one that shimmied very badly, ventral fins under the tail, and some other minor internal modifications. C-119F models were originally slated to get the 4360 engines, and it's thought that some of them did -- the rest got the Wright R-3350 variants with Aeroproducts 4 bladed props, but those F models modified in the field retained the 4360s and the Hamilton Standards, and were unofficially called "CF" models by the crews.
At this time, General Le May decreed that all SAC reciprocating engines should be the same, and he chose the R-4360, which was then on most of the SAC aircraft. No P&Ws for Fairchild (or Kaiser-Frazer), so the rest of the F models then on the assembly line and the G models that were built in 1953 - The 53-32xx and 53-78xx numbered aircraft all were fitted with Wright 3350s and Aeroproducts 4-bladed props. All remaining C-119s were eventually modified to be G models. The Aeroproducts were good props, producing a tremendous amount of thrust and they didn't go into reverse at the wrong time, but they had a deadly fault -- they were prone to overspeed -- run away with the engine !"

A little bit more on the names "Packet" and "Flying Boxcar", from the book "Fairchild Aircraft 1926-1987" (by Kent A.Mitchell) the following:
However, the first C-119 actually was a C-82 modification. To test the new powerplant installation and the new nose configuration, the 137th C-82A was pulled off the production line and sent to Fairchild's experimental shop. That airplane carried the constructor's number 10139 and the Air Force tail number 45-57769.
First designated XC-82B, then XC-119A and eventually just C-119A, the airplane was still called a Packet, whereas production C-119s would be known as Flying Boxcars, making the well established nickname official.

53-7844, being converted to a C-119K, before it was painted in desert camouflage and sent to Ethiopia.
A great many of the tops of USAF reserve 119s were painted white after they came back to the USA.

Photo via Richard Miller of Fairchild.

"53-7844 was a former 12th Troop Carrier Sq. airplane -- I liked flying in that one. The callsign just flowed off the tongue when radio calls were made -- Air Force 3-7844" -- easy to say in ICAO English. A picture of the finished C-119K 7844 in Ethiopian paint is seen here." (Chuck Lunsford).

"When the need arose in Vietnam for a 3rd gun ship, 56 C-119s were pulled out of mothballs in Tucson in 1968 and converted to AC-119G and AC-119K models, they still had 3350s, and Aeroproducts 4-bladed props, and went to Vietnam and were flown with those props until there were several runaway overspeeds, that caused the loss of one Shadow and one Stinger. The Shadows had to keep the Aeroproducts propellers because they did not have the extra help of the two jet engines carried by the Stingers, however the Air Force converted the AC-K Stingers to Hamilton Standard 3-bladed props that gave less thrust, but were not prone to overspeed and runaway with the engine. As a result, whenever the civil owners of 119s could get the 3-bladed props, they installed them.
That is why N15501 is sporting 3 blades (see below), instead of 4, in Tenerife. The aircraft looks to me like it has been extensively refurbished, probably at Fox's expense, and I might speculate that the three bladed props were part of the deal. Don't know for sure, I'm just guessing. There was a military C-119L, that had different 3-bladed props, but there were only a few and the props were the only modifications. There is one, 53-8087 on display at Ft. Bragg. Those C-119K modifications sold to other countries retained the Aeroproducts 4 bladed props.
I flew about 3,000 hours in G models, and I know of only one prop overspeed in the 12th Squadron. The pilot of 53-8152 was Lt. Harry Dawley, and he landed it safely on a beach at Caraffa De Catanzaro, on the boot of Italy. For more see below. The 10th Sq., had one on 53-8141, "The Twin Fan Spam Can," on which I was the white knuckle radio operator, but they got it feathered and on the ground safely at Athens. The 11th Sq. had one on take off with an ambulance aboard, also at Athens, and the resulting gear-up crash-landing wrote off the airplane."

"Those 51-26xx and 51-82xx tail numbers were originally built as C models -- the 12th had a few of them. They were converted to F models in the field but still retained the R-4360s, were referred to as "CF" models, and were replaced in '54 and '55 with New G models -- if they were converted to Gs with the 3350s and Aeroproducts props, it was after they were sold."

Flight Engineer Traficante applied the "Mach Nix" nose art to C-119G "Super G" 53-8145; he wrote me: "At that time the Super "G" Constellation, Lockheed's new fast 4 engine super airplane inspired my naming my airplane. I named her "Mach Nix" with the "Super G" over the nose art. "Super G" for the Constellation and "Mach" for the speed of sound and "Nix" in the German expression "MOX NIX" (who cares)."
Thanks John !

I received following message in Jan.2006: "Hi, I was in the 317th TCW and was on a few flights from Germany; the birds that we had were 53-3150 and up to ???. I do remember that they were G- models and we got 53 but one was destroyed on the ramp when it caught a C-21 power plant. I was in Maintenance Control and also ran the Electric Shop from 1955-1958,"

Serials from the publication "United Stated Air Force Serials 1946 to 1977" by the Merseyside Aviation Society (1977):
  • 48-0319/0355 C-119B-FA (37) c/n 10301/10337
  • 49-0101/0109 C-119B-FA (09) c/n 10338/10346
  • 49-0110/0118 C-119C-FA (09) c/n 10347/10355
  • 49-0119/0124 C-119C-FA (06) c/n 10356/10361
  • 49-0125/0139 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10362/10376
  • 49-0140/0154 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10377/10391
  • 49-0155/0169 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10392/10406
  • 49-0170/0184 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10407/10421
  • 49-0185/0199 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10422/10436
  • 50-0119/0131 C-119C-FA (13) c/n 10437/10449
  • 50-0132/0146 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10450/10464
  • 50-0147/0161 C-119C-FA (15) c/n 10465/10479
  • 50-0162/0171 C-119C-FA (10) c/n 10480/10489
  • 51-2532/2556 C-119C-FA (25) c/n 10490/10514
  • 51-2557/2584 C-119C-FA (28) c/n 10515/10542
  • >
  • 51-2585 YC-119H-FA (01) c/n 10574 "Skyvan"
  • 51-2586 C-119F-FA (01) c/n 10575
  • 51-2587/2617 C-119C-FA (31) c/n 10576/10606
  • 51-2618/2661 C-119C-FA (44) c/n 10607/10650
  • 51-2662/2667 C-119F-FA (06) c/n 10651/10656
  • 51-2668/2686 C-119F-FA (19) c/n 10657/10675
  • 51-2687/2689 C-119F-FA (03) c/n 10676/10678 batch was cancelled
  • 51-2690/2717 C-119F-FA (28) c/n 10679/10705
  • 51-7968/8052 C-119F-FA (85) c/n 10707/10734, 10739/10758, 10706, 10760/10772, 10822, 10857/10858, 10873/10874, 10913/10930 conversions to C-119J
  • 51-8053/8097 C-119G-FA (45) c/n 10931/10941, 10958/10991
  • 51-8098/8168 C-119F-KM (71) c/n 101/171 --Built by Kaiser-Frazer-- Conversions to C-119J
  • 51-8233/8273 C-119C-FA (41) c/n 10781/10821 Assembled by Kaiser-Frazer from Fairchild components. Most cvtd to C-119G standard
  • 51-17365/17367 C-119-FA (3) c/n 10777/10779 MDAP aircraft for Italy
  • 52-5840/5954 C-119G-FA (115) c/n 10999/11208, 11037/11074, 11087/11100, 11206/11207, 11103/11115, 11124/11141 resp.
  • 52-9981/9982 C-119G-FA (02) c/n 11142/11143 (52-9982 to AC-119K)
  • 53-3136/3222 C-119G-FA (87) c/n 11147/11205, 11208/11223, 11227/11238. Conversions to AC-119G and AC-119K
  • 53-4637/4662 C-119G-FA (26) c/n 11101/11102, 11224/11226, 11241/11244, 11262/11265, 11285/11288, 11299/11302, 11309/11313 MDAP for India
  • 53-7826/7884 C-119G-FA (59) c/n 11239/11240, 11245/11261, 11266/11284, 11289/11298, 11303/11308, 11314/11318 conversion to AC-119G and AC-119K
  • 53-8069/8156 C-119G-FA (88) c/n 172/259 --Built by Kaiser-Frazer --

131700 was one of a batch of 58 Fairchild R4Q-2 Packets (c/n 10829/10856 and 10875/10904), redesignated C-119F in 1962.
'700' is seen here at Naval Air Station Glenview, IL at some unknown date. It was decommissioned and stored at Davis-Monthan's MASDC as 4C0029.
This C-119F was entered into the civil register as N3267U for Comutair, Gering, NE. It was reported stored at Nairobi, Kenya in 1996. That was the end of its flying career, because by end-2003 it was dismantled and trucked to Namibia for use in the movie "The Last Flight of the Phoenix". Click this link for more details on C-119s in this movie.

C-119 "Flying Boxcar"
Manufacturer: Fairchild
Production period/total: 1948 through 1953, 1 converted from XC-82B, 1,051 bought.

45-57769 (originally a XC-82B, but modified to approximate production standards, became the one C-119A in the inventory.
48-0319 through 355 (C-119B)
49-101 through 118 (C-119B), 119 through 199 (C-119C)
50-119 through 171 (C-119C)
51-2532 through 2661, 8233 through 8273 (C-119C) and 2586 (YC-119F), 2668 through 2686 (2687 through 2689 ordered but never delivered), 2707 through 2717, 7968 through 8052, 2690 through 2706, 2662 through 2667 (all C-119F), 8098 through 8168 (Kaiser-Frazer -built C-119F), and 8053 through 8097 (Fairchild-built C-119G)
52-5840 through 5954, 6000 through 6058, 9981 and 9982 (all C-119G)
53-3136 through 3222, 4637 through 4662, 7826 through 7884, 8069 through 8156 (all C-119G)

C-119C 51-2566 (c/n 10524) preserved at Warner-Robins AFB Museum (Photo: R.Leeuw 23Jul01)

Franz A. Vajda contributed the following information:
"I have only the production for FY1953: Fairchild built 41 C-models, 120 F-models and 11 G-models
Kaiser produced 55 F-models.
Until the 30June1952 Fairchild produced 262 aircraft were accepted, C-models, only 1 F-model in this batch. And 4 Kaiser-built C-119s.
The program at this date produced following totals: 303 C-models, 121 F-models, 308 G-models and 71 Kaiser F-model airplanes.
Thus from 1st July 1953 only G-models types were built."
Source- United States Statistical Digests FY1953 / Air Force Almanach / Mitchell: Fairchild Aircraft 1926-1987 (a.o.).

XC-119A: modified XC-82B, became C-119A, later EC-119A
EC-119A: C-119A converted to electronics testbed
C-119B: Initial production model, with two 3.500 horsepower R-4360-20 engines, 14 inch wider fuselage, four-bladed propellers, and strengthened airframe. 55 built.
C-119C: Same as C-119B, but tailpiane extensions outboard of booms omitted, dorsal fins added.
YC-119D: Projected version with three-wheel main undercarriage members and detachable fuselage pod. Initially designated YC-128A
YC-119E: Project only, same as YC-119D, but two 3.500 horsepower, R3350 engines. Was designated YC-128B -- see comment below by Wayne, on the engines used --
YC-119F: As C-119C, but with two 3.500 horsepower, R-3350-85 engines. One built.
C-119F: Production model, retrofitted ventral fins, total of 141 built
C-119F-KM: C-119F's built by Kaise-Frazer, 71 built with KM suffix
C-119G: As C-119F, but with Aeroproducts propellers, not Hamilton Standard, and some equipment changes. Many were later retrofitted with Hamilton airscrews. 480 built.
AC-119G: Original "Shadow" gunship conversion of C-119G, with four 7.62 mm waist guns, flare launcher and armor protection, crew of ten, 26 converted (52-5898, 5905, 5907, 5925 5927 5938 5942 53 3136 3145 3170, 3178, 3189,3192, 3205, 7833, 7848, 7851, 7852, 8114, 8115, 8123, 8131, 8155).
YC-119H: Called "Skyvan," it was a converted C-119G with a longer wingspan (148 feet, nearly 40 percent greater area), fuel in two underwing tanks, modified tail surface with extended plan tailplane and two 3.500 horsepower R-3350-85 engines. One converted (51-2585)
C-119J: Total of 62 C-119F and G models converted with a modified rear fuselage incorporating an in-flight openable door. ("They could be opened in flight, but it was really not much of a success. The door was very small, and paratroops could be injured jumping from the paratroop doors."- Lunsford).
EC-119J: A C-119J conversion used for satellite tracking. At least four were converted (two of which are 52-5884 and 5896)
MC-119J: Designation given to C-119F and -G models equipped for medical evacuation missions
YC-119K: One C-119G re-engined with two 3.700 R-3350-999TC1 8-EA2 and two 2.850 pounds thrust J85-GE- 17 underwing jet engine pods
C-119K: Five C-119G converted to YC-119K standards and fitted with anti-skid braking systems. Among those converted were 52-5932, 53-3142, 3160
AC-119K: Called "Stinger," these 26 converted C-119G were first converted to AC-119G standards, then with the addition of two 2,850-pound thrust underwingjet engine pods, two additional 20mm cannons, improved radar and navigational equipment. Also, many were fitted with three-blade Hamilton Standard propellers. Converted were 52-5864,5889,5910,5911, 5926, 5935, 5940, 5945, 9982, 53-3154, 3156, 3187, 3197, 3211, 7826, 7830, 7831, 7839, 7850, 7854, 7877, 7879, 7883, 8121, 8145, 8148.
C-119L: Twenty-two C-119Gs were upgraded to this final configuration
XC-120 Packplane: a weird, though logical experiment (C-119B 48-0330)

Wayne King wrote the following comment on the engines used on YC-119F ('As C-119C, but with two 3.500 horsepower, R-3350-85 engines'):
"...the C-119C-F models were equipped with R-4360 Pratt and Whitney 28-cylinder engines. I do not know which dash number engines these were, but the least powerful of the 4360's produced about 3,000 hp.
If the YC-119F was equipped with two R-3350-85 engines, it would have been severely underpowered since these engines were rated at only 2,500 hp each. See this Wikipedia article for a table of R-3350 models:
Your article says the engines on the YC-119F were rated at 3,500 hp, which would have been in the proper power range for the application. The R-3350-89A was rated at 3,500 hp. While I don't know for certain, I believe the engine used on the YC-119F was the -89A, just as I saw on all the -G models that I serviced at Dreux.
The 'Y' designation indicates that the YC-119F was a prototype and the -85 engine may have been used in resizing the engine nacelles for the later installation of the -89A."

I was stationed at Dreux-Senonches (frequently misspelled Senoches) AB for 3 years beginning in March, 1956.  I was an A/C Reciprocating Engine Mechanic and worked in the Engine Buildup shop.  I estimate that I built or supervised the building of as many as 280 engines during that time.  A few of them were P&W R-2800 models for the C-123 birds, while the majority were Wright R-3350-89A Turbo-Compound models for the C-119G.  Every C-119 engine that I worked on had an ID tag with that label.

Various websites, including yours, mistakenly identify the 3350's on the 119 as the -85 model.  I think this came about due to some sloppy editing on some website, which will go nameless, where a description of the C-82 was followed by a similar description of the C-119.  
Evidently, the author did a copy and paste and then replaced "2800" with "3350" leaving the "-85".

One author, on another site, even claimed these engines did not have superchargers.  It is true they did not have turbo-superchargers as used on the B-29, but they were equipped with internal, gear driven two-stage, two-speed superchargers just like the B-29 and the Super G Connie.  The turbines in the exhaust were geared to the crankshaft through fluid couplings and provided an additional total of 450 horsepower at takeoff power."

In nov.2005 Charles Dillner wrote me:
"I was a polehandler on the project that used the "J" models with the "beavertail". We were at Charleston AFB in 1955 and ended up in Okinawa late '55 to early 1956. Our A/C was 51-8050. We lived near the base in Charleston and remember the C-119 that crashed on takeoff in the summer of 1956. We left on a training mission the next day. These "J" models were also used in the Pacific in the late 50's and early 60's in the Discover Project.
Wright Patterson AFB Museum has one of the "J" models from our Wing on static display, aircraft 51-8037.
A pole handler helped deploy the poles, ropes and hooks from a C-119J to catch the packages released from balloons that had traveled over Russia during the Cold War. This was the "Moby Dick Project". The book which has a very good description of this work is "The Moby Dick Project" by Curtis Peebles published in 1991 by Smithsonian Institution Press. "
Chuck Dillner

C-119L 53-8087 at Ft. Bragg. Photographer unknown, via Chuck Lunsford.
The C-119L was only a regular -G model, with 3 bladed props. All C-119s from the very first one, Air Force or Marine (Navy), had removable clamshell doors.

Walt Chapman has this to say on 53-8087, another -L model:
The C119 53-8084 that is at Little Rock is an "L" model and was flown there by my brother, who was a pilot in our unit. We took the remaining C119's that our unit had to the bone yard. This was in 1975. I am retired and was a flight engineer in our unit during the time we had the C119. The 130th TAW in Charleston,WV. The C119L was a converted C119G with a "Connie" 3 bladed prop that replaced the 4 bladed prop. This was done in middle to late 1973. The C119L 53-8087 at Ft. Bragg also came from our unit and when they received it from us it was black. During the early 70's it was gone for a few months at Hurlbert Field and was a test bed for Stealth Technology and was painted with this "special" $300 a gallon paint when it came back from it's "TDY". I flew 087 to England in 1971 for a three week mission with a "Benson" Aux fuel tank that was in the cargo compartment plumbed into the main fuel manifold. Our unit had C119C's from 1963 to around 1968 when we got the C119G's. Our unit was the last unit to fly the C119 on September 26,1975 we flew the last one's to the bone yard. We then got C130E's and when we got our H's the E's went to Little Rock.

Statistics: For C-119C
Crew: 5
Cruising speed: 250 mph
Service ceiling: 31.800 feet
Range: 2.018 miles

Physical characteristics:
Wingspan: 109 feet, 4 inches
Length: 86 feet, 6 inches
Height: 26 feet, 6 inches
Empty weight: 39.942 pounds
Gross weight: 73.150 pounds
Maximum payload: 30.000 pounds (67 passengers)

data sheet (Acrobat Reader document).

In May 2006 I received following email:
"Here is a little tidbit....during the Lebanon crisis in 1958 I was sent to Port Lyautey in French Morrocco and every single Boxcar available from Miami and Cherry Point was involved in that airlift!
Port Lyautey was our base to fly out of and do the maintenance; I was a mechanic, just a corporal at the time.
I believe we had 35 planes on the ground at one time during that and our checks were not as extensive as they would have been back home but we kept them flying and never lost a single one! I love talking about those days...
I was only a kid then and now im pushing 70 so sorry if I got to rambling on, just one other thing: these nicknames like Packet and such, never heard of them in real life! Our nickname for the R4Q2 was the "shuddering shithouse"... affectionally of course... ;-)
I flew both ways over there and it took 25 hours with two long range tanks in the belly, plus a stop at Newfoundland and then to the Azores, ah for the good old days!!"

Channing Ball (Sgt-ret.) wrote me the following in March 2007:
"Back in 1955-57 I was stationed at Cherry Point with VMR-153 transport squadron. I was a mechanic and crew chief on the C-119 and flew the Marines of Camp Lejeune all over to Cuba, Puerto Rico and Porta Prince.
We flew Relief missions for hurricane victims in Texas and Mexico.
In 1956 we took 6 planes with long range fueltanks (fastened down in the cargo bay) and flew to Morocco in North Africa, stopping in the Azores for fuel. We left Cherry Point, flew to Newfoundland, refueled, then started that looooooooong flight (I think 24hrs !). We looked down and saw ice bergs; those big engines never missed a beat."
"I remember one close call we had in a C-119.
We had delivered supplies to the Marines at Vieques Island,PR; we picked up a jeep and a weapons carrier. So we taxied to the end of the short dirt runway and started taking off. The pilot was supposed to use the water/alcohol injector, but didn't !
Well, we got down near the end of the runway and we were still on the ground... In a split second the co-pilot hit the throttle and pulled back on the controls, we mowed down some small trees and brush but finally got airborne!
That was the only near mishap we had in 3 years."

The Story
The twin booms enclosed a clam-shell door, which allowed for equipment to be loaded straight in, or vehicles could be driven up a ramp.
The high-wing, twin boom design also meant that the cargo compartment had no obstructions - it was maximized for cargo.
The Boxcar, which some also called the "Packet," was a real workhorse. It performed a variety of missions, ranging from the true transport of people and cargo from one point to another to ground attack. It performed satellite surveillance, medevac, glider tug, and airdrop, and was used by Special Forces for their unique mission. The Boxcar flew with many flags, not just that of the U.S. Air Force. It also flew in the Marine Corps and Navy, and in the service of other countries, including Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Taiwan, and South Vietnam.
Source of the above: "The "C"-Planes by Bill Holder & Scott Vadnais

Another Fairchild R4Q-2 / C-119F Packet, 131688.
Photo: Official US Photo, Released (NAS Glenview,IL)

There are still quite a few of these C-119s around, but not many airworthy: C-119 Census at OldProps.
Here is a bit more about N15501 and the movie "Flight of the Phoenix".

Doug sent me this shot of N15501 while being prepared at Greybull,WY by Hawkins and Powers for the long haul ferry flight to Namibia, to play a part in that movie. Note the 3-blade props.
N15501 was seen at Accra on 31Mar03, returning to "homeplate" Greybull.

Ralph remembered his days on the Boxcar: " I started flying the C-119F in 1954 at Charleston, SC. At that time the max gross weight was 72.300 lbs, later reduced to 68.000 lb. These aircraft had Hamilton Standard props, later Aeroproducts. The Ham Standard was a pain, as we had to feel each blade for bumps before flight. They were converted to -J models and we went to catching parachutes and we went overseas to catch camera parachutes.
The Ham Standard steel blades were hollow and tended to delaminate causing the blade to fail. So we looked for delamination bumps. The cameras were dropped from high altitude balloons and we caught them coming down by intercepting the parachutes."

Thanks Ralph !

Click on the photo for a larger image
N13745/82  (c)  R.Leeuw
C-119B N13745 (c/n 10304) is seen preserved at Lancaster-Fox Field,CA in May1997, still wearing its Tanker 82 colours of its service days with Hemet Valley Flying Service.
N13745 was former USAF 48-0322, no.3 of the first C-119 batch to be delivered to the USAF.

Chuck Lunsford brought a mystery to my attention:
The mystery of the last batch of aircraft built by Kaiser-Frazer at the old Ford Motor Company B-24 plant at Willow Run, near Detroit.....
"I believe it concerned 71 aircraft, ending with the serial number 51-8168. We had many of those aircraft in the 10th, 11th and 12th Troop Carrier Squadrons, delivered to the 60th Troop Carrier Wing at Dreux/Senoches Air Base in France, in the fall of 1955, during the move of the 60th from Rhine-Main Air Base, Frankfurt AM, Germany.
But.... When they were delivered to the 60th they were brand-new airplanes, with a total of about 150 hours on the airframes -- but now they had 1953 tail numbers, with the same last four numbers they had in 1951 !!
They also carried no ID for Kaiser-Frazer, anywhere on the aircraft. They said Fairchild....
My theory is this: They were counted twice ! The 1951 C-119FA Kaiser airplanes are the same as the 1953 C-119Gs ! The mystery is where were they from 1951 until they showed up in 1955? If you look at Joe Baugher's listings, he shows them both in 1951 (Kaiser-Frazer C-119F-KM Flying Boxcar, 51-8098/8168)and again in 1953 (Kaiser-Frazer C-119G Flying Boxcar, 53-8069/8156).
If you note his listing of the 51-8233/8273 contract, you will see they were built as -C models and carried the R-4360 engines. These aircraft were sent to the 12th Squadron at Rhine-Main in 1952; they were converted in the field to -F models and were called "CF" models. They were built AFTER the 51-8198/8168 from Kaiser -- You still with me?? OK -- now guess which airplanes replaced those -CF models -- in 1955. That's right: they were replaced with the 53-8098/8168 Kaisers which I flew from '56 to '59 at Dreux.
Here's what I think happened. Kaiser-Frazer was going bankrupt at the time, so Fairchild (or the government or somebody ??) repossessed the airplanes, and held them until all the legal wrangling was finished. After that, they were modified to -G models, given new 1953 numbers, and put out into the field.
Concluding: because of the two different year designations, they got counted twice. That would account for some sources listing 1184 C-119s built, and other sources saying it was 1051 (or thereabouts).
I have not been able to find any records on this -- when Fairchild and Hiller merged, I guess somebody tossed all the Fairchild records in the trash can. Nobody I can find knows, including Richard Miller who worked for Fairchild for 30 years. He was not around when the C-119s were built.
It would be nice to find further proof or confirmation."
Please read the follow up in C-119 Kaiser-Frazer mystery

"I was assigned to 314 TCS in June 1953. We were waiting for our new aircraft from Kaiser to be delivered. We had no aircraft for 6 weeks, no one knew why...
Our pilots were at the factory waiting for transfer to our squadron; finally they arrived with the new C-119G models, my aircraft was 53-8081.
I have traced the history of this arcraft. We were very proud of our new aircraft, but it was a trying time to train the new floight crews.
Thanks for your website."
Victor James, LEX. KY

Photo taken by Ralph of 53-7877: "photo was taken '54/'55. I was in the 745TCS, 456TCW at Charleston AFB, SC. We spent most of our time dropping troops and heavy equipment at Pope AFB or Fort Campbell. Then our aircraft were convereted to J's for operation "Drag Net".

Paul Toutant (SSGT USAF / ADC retired USNR, P3 flight engineer) wrote me in July 2005: "From Aug. 1955 to Aug. 1958 I was a crew chief / flight engineer on C-119's in Neubiberg (Munich) Germany and Evereux, France, in the 41st Troop Carrier Squadron. In March 1957 the squadron was moved to France. We were part of the 317 Troop Carrier Wing.
The plane that I crewed was sn 53-8121, which I brought back to the States when they were replaced by C-130's. I brought 2 planes back to the States: one going to Enid (?) OK and the other to Portland, OR.
I also flew on C-47's and B-25's, some of the last ones in the USAF. Sure do miss aviating..."

Thanks Paul!

More on props and engines, by Chuck Lunsford:
The C-119 had two different engines. The original XC-82B, the C-119B, of which only 55 were built, and the C-119C all had P&W R-4360 engines, with Hamilton Standard 4 bladed props -- most were reversible.
When the F models were built, they were supposed to have the PW 4360, but that is when SAC got priority for those engines, and Fairchild had to change to Wright R-3350 turbo-compound variants, and the Aeroproducts 4 bladed propellers. There was a shortage of 3350s at that time - 1951 - and some of the production was delayed, most notably the Kaiser-Frazer sub-contract airplanes which were built in Detroit.
Added to all of this confusion is that all C-119s were eventually converted to G models in the form of modifications, including the engines and props. To my knowledge, the only C-119s built from the start as G models were the 53-78-- series. I believe the last C models built with the PW 4360 were the 51-82-- series. They were modified to F models in the field, but retained the PW 4360s, and were referred to un-officially, as CF models. However, pilot logs for flying time in those aircraft say the aircraft was officially a C model.
I know several crew chiefs and flight engineers who flew both the CF and the G models. One of the things they didn't like was the Aeroproducts 4 bladed props. They required constant attention. The over-speed, runaway problem continued to plague the C-119s, even up to and including Vietnam, where there were several losses. The Air Force then went to three bladed props on the AC-119K aircraft, but not on the AC-119G. The reason given to me was the 3 bladed props gave less thrust, but the 2 additional jets on the AC-Ks compensated for that. The AC-Gs were so weight-critical at takeoff they could not afford the loss of thrust, so stayed with the 4 bladed Aeroproducts props.

How the AC-119 Gunship came about

Harry Dunn (USAF Col. Retired) wrote me the following:
"I thought you might enjoy where/how the AC-119 came into being. After my tour of 3 years at Dreux,France (preceeded by a year at Phalsbourg AB - flying the VERTOL H-21 helo), I ended up being sent to school and spent several years at Wright-Patterson working on the CH/HH-3/E "Jolly Green Giant") Next, I was sent to Air Force Systems Command - Aero Division, in charge of transport, helos and Vstol aircraft programs.
Before I was shipped to Vietnam, we received a note from USAF Headquarters that the the old Navy twin engine Grumman S-2 Tracker (not the greatest idea!!) was to follow up the C-47 Gunship. After visiting Grumman, my boss wanted to know what we thought about it. We would have had to pay Grumman to take them out of the desert, and pay for them. But we (AFSC Gen.Schriever, Col. Geo Kirsh and me) concluded that we had more than enough C-119G models in storage, which were far more solid and real steady birds for the job. Also we could have AFLC do the clean up and conversion... This way we could save a bunch of money. My friends at W-Pat fully agreed with me, because of the C-119's stability and flight performance. My boss, Col. Geo Kirsh (former director of Edwards AFB), concurred and he talked to Gen. Schiever - who in turn told USAF that we had a much better solution, which could be accomplished in-house.
Lt Harry Dunn - probably at Ramstein,Germany The result was that the equipment, which had been designed by the guys at W-Patt - with improvements and more powerful guns - was installed on the Fairchild C-119Gs, while at the same time they were working on the C-130 conversions.
I was in SVN first during the 1968 "TET" offensive and was there a few months later, May I think, for 2-3 weeks to help 7th AF generate a ROC for a new FAC aircraft. The AC-119G, and later -Ks, started ariving in Vietnam about the time I was heading back to AFSC (probably in late 1968 or early 1969. And that is a short story of how and when the AC-119 was born ! Hope this fills in a little of its history."

Thanks Harry !
AC-119 Gunship info at www.hurlburt.af.mil/basewide/airpark/c119/index.shtml
AC-119 in Vietnam at airwarvietnam.com/ac119.htm
71st Special Operations Sqdn in Vietnam www.atterburybakalarairmuseum.org/71st_vietnam.htm
Gunships on www.ais.org/~schnars/aero/gunships.htm
Lee Meyers wrote me in June 2005:
"As a former jumper in the 101st., from 1958 to 1961, I jumped out of a lot of C-119s. They were a lot of fun to unass. The crew chiefs would stand between the doors when they were open with a fire ax to prevent anyone from takeing them out with them when we jumped!
I remember the runups at the very end of the runway and on departures the floor of the aircraft vibrated so badly, it would hurt your feet a little so we would lift them up and hold them there until they backed off on the power...
The C-119 and C-123 were our primary aircraft until we started getting A-model C130s in 1959 and we continued to use all three models. I did on one occasion get to jump out of a C124.
What times!"

Thanks Lee!

Joel F.Jackson sent me these newspaper clippings relating to a C-119 crash in Tennessee in 1951: one and two
Aad van der Voet provided the following info:
"The C-119C over Parkersburg was 49-0192, flown by Kenneth T. Christensen. The aircraft went out of control and disintegrated in flight, 12 miles SE of Jackson,TN.
The date has been confirmed as June 4th, 1951 and 49-0192 is c/n 10429."

Aviation Safety Network

Bonnie Aguilar wrote me in June 2009:
My father was a farmer and farm families eat a late 'supper'.  We were sitting at the dining table when my mother asked us to be quiet.  She asked if we heard that airplane?  No, we didn't.  She told us she heard a plane.. then the sound of the engine died! 
The next morning we heard about the plane that crashed on Mr. Wilson's farm which was about 5 miles away. 
That afternoon some of my friends and I walked over to look and we picked up papers along the way.  Several people were looking around but NOT ONE military person was on location!  No yellow tape. 
I stood on an engine that had made a large crater.  There was a lot of wreckage but no large pieces were left of the plane.  The papers we found were probably flight papers.  We laid them on the ground by the engine because there was no official to leave them with.  It was a sad scene and a sad day when we were told that four had lost their lives.


Jack Williamson wrote me with the following-
"I'm not sure how many years H&P flew the C-119, but I joined them in 1979 and flew a few hours in Tankers T-133, T-140, and as primary I was assigned to T-137. During 1980 I flew T-139, T-137 and T-136 as primary. In 1981 I was assigned to T-136 and flew a few flights in T-138.
T-137 was configured with the jet pod on top as were all the C-119s in fire service. I flew C-119s for another operator until 1986.
As is the case with all airplanes, the C-119 had its peculiarities but they were honest ones and readily visable to an experienced pilot during his first walk around inspection.
  • 1. The aileron to wing area ratio was very large. Thus it had the fastest roll rate of any of the heavy tankers I flew
  • 2. With the jet pod the power to weight ratio especially empty was high, thus we could out climb any other tanker and most of the lead planes.
  • 3. The flap area was too small, thus diving into canyons was a no no. Small flaps equal poor speed control in a dive.
  • 4. Large cockpit, lots of windows equal good visability ofer a fire.
  • 5. The wing spar center section was weak so no high "G" pull ups, and required daily inspection.
  • 6. The R-3350 engine and the R4360 engine needed a gentle knowledgeable touch at the controls or it would bite you.With 14000 hours operating those engines as a flight engineer and capt. I knew how to keep them running.
    I flew as tankers the DC-6, DC-7, PB4Y, S-2, C-119 The C-119 flew like a fighter and was by far my favorite in a steep short canyon.
    When an airplane was crippled it was normally stripped of all usable components, most certainly the J-33 engine. H&P swapped parts and engines from airplane to airplane at regular intervals, no one ever tried to keep track of them.
    As is the case with most airplanes, if it were maintained properly, and flown by a knowledgeable crew, by the book it would perform for you."
    Thanks Jack!
  • Duane Delk wrote me in Sep.2005:
    In the USAF I flew as a Flight Engineer on KC-97G's/C-97G, C-124 A&C and C-141 A&B. I flew as a Flt Mech on B-25J's and C-119C, F&G's.
    The C-119 was interesting. I flew C-119C's out of MacDill AFB,FL in the mid 50's. SAC used them for support aircraft. We either had 4 or 6 of them, I can't remember exactly. The only tail numbers that I remember were 49-185 and 49-140. We got 185 from Hayes Aircraft in Birmingham,AL out of what was called IRAN: Inspect and Repair As Necessary. It was in pretty good shape. 49-140 came straight from Vietnam. It had been on loan to the French and it was in horrible shape.
    Duane Delk
    (Sadly, Duane passed away on 11Jan2010. See A Career On Vintage Prop Transports)

    "A memorial plaque was found by me recently, it had on the reverse side of the tombstone (bearing the name DICKINSON [HARRY & BERNICE] at Riverside Cemetery, Spencer, Iowa) written the following-
    "In memory of our son: Robert H. DICKINSON 1934-1955 who died in the service of his country. Bob was a flight engineer on a C 119 Flying Boxcar which crashed in the sea of Japan March 1955. His body was never recovered"
    Any clues on further info on this? I've found some additional info in a Spencer newspaper from a letter describing the accident when memorial services were held 18 March 1955.
    "Bob was flying as the serial engineer on a flight that departed from Ashiya (Japan) at 3:08 P.M. March 1. He was flying with our operational officer, a pilot who has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the C-119 type aircraft. The plane was 18 miles north of the Japanese coast when the propeller on the right engine failed. The aircraft began descending rapidly toward the water.
    At approximately 3:20 pm the order was given to abandon the aircraft. The crewmembers parachuted from the failing aircraft into the Japan Sea. The Air-Sea Rescue was immediately dispatched to the scene of the accident and with the aid of many Japanese fishing boats in area an intense search has been conducted. Several survivors were picked up by Japanese fishing boats"
    Raymond Russell

    Hank Redding sent me the following in August 2010:
    "I have so much time in that bird, having flown C-119s for two years at Ashiya AFB in Japan and about seven or eight more years in the U.S.
    And I know about that crash, I can give you about all the info you can stand about it. I have a friend from Ashiya who supplied the accident report on it and covers everything. Acft no, time, eng. times, prop times all the crew members names including Dickinson (Eng.) who was mentioned on the plaque in Iowa.. Major Andrews was the A/C-IP on board and also the Sqd. Ops officer.
    Personally, I never had a prop go into reverse, but some of the guys sure did!"

    52-5886 which crashed
    Here is the actual aircraft that crashed with Major Andrews; he's praying -as a goodwill gesture- that the airplane will be airworthy to fly..?  Needless to say that things went bad and the aircraft crashed and some lives were lost. (Photo provided by Bob Renes)

    Basic Information:
    Aircraft 886 from the 36th TCS at took off from runway 12 at Ashiya at approximately 3:08 pm on March 1, 1955 on a routine flight to Kadena and as the last aircraft in a squadron exercise.  A few minutes and approximately 18 miles northwest of Ashiya, at 8,000 feet, the right prop regulator failed, causing first an over-speed condition, and then a change to somewhere between feather and reverse pitch.  All attempts to correct the condition failed.  The resultant drag made the aircraft uncontrollable, so the crew bailed out and the aircraft crashed into the sea.  Two crewmen apparently went down with the plane and one drowned after a successful bailout.  The rest were rescued by Japanese fishing boats.

    As a result of this crash, all G-Model C-119s in the world (all with Aero Products propellers and electric regulators) were grounded for several weeks, until a temporary fix was installed.  It simply blocked reverse pitch. After that, we flew without reverse for four or five months.  Eventually, the manufacturer found the cause and devised a permanent fix. There were no more such problems.

    Statistical Information:
    Aircraft Type:  C-119-G
    Aircraft Tail Number:  52-5886
    Aircraft Total Time:  527:10 hours
    Engine Type:  Wright Turbo-Compound R-3350-85
    Left Engine Total Time:  308:0 hours
    Left Engine Time Since Major Overhaul:  1.00 hour
    Left Propeller Time Since Major Overhaul:  198:15 hours
    Left Propeller Regulator Time Since Major Overhaul:  1 hour
    Right Engine Total Time:  312.0 hours
    Right Engine Time Since Major Overhaul:  1 hour
    Right Propeller Time Since Major Overhaul:  Unk.
    Right Propeller Regulator Time Since Major Overhaul:  1 hour

    Crew Information:
    Senior Pilot (AC/IP):  Maj. Philip P. Andrews
    Pilot:  1/Lt. John J. Higgins
    Copilot:  Capt. Harold W. Gilbert
    Navigator:  2/Lt. Julius B. Cooper
    Flight Engineer:  A/2C Robert H. Dickinson
    Radio Operator:  A/2C Robert Sullivan
    Crew Chief:  S/Sgt. Edwin G. Magnor

    Event Description:
    The 9th periodic inspection was completed on 886 on the evening of 2-28-55.  Both engines and both propeller regulators had been replaced. During final checks, the crew chief was told that there had been a failure of one prop to reverse, but the particular regulator was not specified.
    By 8:00 am on 3-1-55, the aircraft had been declared as 'in commission'.  Shortly, Phil Andrews and another pilot test hopped the aircraft and noted a couple of small discrepancies.  Those were cleared and, around 2:00 pm, the crew prepared for the flight to Kadena.  At the hot spot however, they found oil pressures too high and taxied back for the adjustment.  Shortly after 3:00 pm, the crew took off for Kadena.

    I’m not absolutely certain, but I’m pretty sure that Phil told me that he was in the left seat.

    In the climb to the assigned cruise altitude of 10,000 feet, the right engine rpm increased somewhat.  Phil adjusted it, but less than a half minute later, it increased again, and all efforts to control it, including reducing the MP to 30 inches, and slamming the propeller control into feather position, failed.  Engine rpm surged and pegged the tach, then slowed to 3,400.  At the surge, the aircraft snapped violently into a yaw to the right.  Phil regained some control by cutting power on the left engine, but the descent rate was very high.  He was able to reduce the right engine speed to 2,500 only by reducing the airspeed from 160 to 85 knots.  Experimenting with higher airspeeds, but only to 110 knots, caused the rpm to return to 3,400.

    Phil ordered the crew to bail out at something under 5,000 feet. 
    Magnor, Dickinson, and Sullivan went back to the cargo compartment for their parachutes.  Cooper, Higgins, and Gilbert went through the cockpit escape chute, and Magnor went out the left back door.  When he jumped, he thought that Dickinson and Sullivan were right behind him.  Phil slid his seat to the side, held the yoke hard over, and held full rudder as long as he felt prudent.  At what he thought was the last minute, he looked around and saw no more crew members, so he released the controls and dove head first through the escape chute, pulling his D-ring as he went through.  He didn’t make a full swing before his feet hit the water.

    At the first sight of parachutes, a couple of Japanese fishing boats headed for the scene. The first boat picked up Magnor first, about ten minutes after he hit the water.  Soon afterward, they picked up Higgins, but, although Magnor applied artificial respiration for more than 30 minutes, Higgins didn’t survive.  During that time, the boat crew picked up Andrews, then Gilbert.  Meanwhile, another boat had picked up Cooper.  The fishermen searched for another half hour for others, but found no one.  About 45 minutes into the trip back to Ashiya, they saw an SA-16, and they waved but were not seen.  About a half hour later, they saw a crash boat, and even hoisted a chute on the mast, but were again not seen.  The fishermen dropped the crew off at the crash boat dock, and the airman on duty called the hospital.  An ambulance and a doctor arrived, and they were all transported to the hospital.

    My research and conversations with Phil and Ed convince me that it was only Phil’s superior piloting skills that allowed anyone to survive.
    At the time of the crash, Phil was the 36th Operations Officer.  Later, he was squadron commander.  He was a consummate pilot, and was universally liked and respected.  I have never heard one adverse comment about him.

    Incidentally, Phil passed away on 14FEB09. 
    He continued to fly C-119s after Ashiya, almost continuously for totals of 11 years and 6,000 hours.  He stopped counting after shutting down the 26th engine in flight. 
    He retired from the Air Force after, I think, 24 years.  After Air Force retirement, he was the chief pilot and flew both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft for a state pest control department for the last 20 years or so before he retired again to spend time with his wife, his children, his dog, and his fishing boat in Cape Coral, Florida.

    My squadron (37th TCS) was right next to the 36th, but I asked a friend of mine, Bob Renes who was at Ashiya during the same time, if he could furnish any info and he suppied the above report.

    I have been trying to track down my old aircraft that was assigned to me  (842) but haven't been sucessful so far. They were scattered all over...
    Hank Redding, L/Col USAF (Ret.) Ex A/C Commander

    Note from the webmaster on fate '842' - assuming this is 52-5842, by Joe Baugher's website I learned the following; "52- 5842 (c/n 11001) to Indian AF in 1963".

    Ian MacFarlane sent me these Belgian Ar Force C-119 photos and he remembers them well. His memory was triggered due to an exchange on Classic-Propliner Yahoo forum on C-119 names; he wrote-
    " I remember the Belgian Air Force used to call their C-119's Packets or Charlie One Nineteen.
    We used to see them regularly at Newcastle and previously RAF Ouston on their trooping flights for "Operation Over Tyne" (which it is still called today) at the Otterburn Ranges in Northumberland, England.
    In the latter days of its service we used to provide a handling service (Ground Power usually) at Newcastle to the BAF and they referred to them as Packets or Charlie One Nineteen and certainly used the latter on the R/T to I/D their type when on initial call. Also telex messages never mentioned anything other than Packet or C-119 - Boxcar was never ever used, it was the same in Diplomatic Clearances to ATC. If we had crews from both the C-119 and DC-6A in the office at the same time and you asked who is flying what - it was alway the Packet or Charlie One Nineteen.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but some of the C-119's appeared to be fitted with a two stroke type engine and only used only for Engine starting, anyone remember this?"
    C-119 OT-CBK "CP-31 - was at RAF Ouston (still used by the Army!) which is located about 5 miles north west of Newcastle Airport, it was hard to get good sharp photographs of taxying aircraft due to my camera having a manual focus and the fastest shutter speed being 1/300 - the C-119's used to taxi past at quite a speed as it was quite some distance to the main runway."
    C-119 OT-CEH "CP-46 - this photograph was taken from the Aero Club garden as you can see by the small fence, note the other C-119 to the left of CP-46 was parked along side a DC-6A."
    OT-CAQ Belgian AF C-119 C-119G OT-CAQ / CP-17 (10679), NCL 03Apr73.
    Ian wrote: "I actually managed to photograph about 30 different Belgian C-119's at Newcastle/RAF Ouston.
    Ouston used to be good for taxi photographs as you could stand at a small fence/gate and help your self; the Domestic site was at the other side if the airfield and no one ever came around and to use the main runway this taxiway had to be used. On rare occassions aircraft used one of the shorter runways which meant no photographs. I have seen DC-4/6's land on the shorter runways only."

    CP-30 Belgian AF C-119 C-119G OT-CBJ / CP-30 (10998), NCL 01Aug69.

    Forty-six C-119s were delivered to the Belgian Air Force from 1952 onwards, initially C-119F's (1951 serials), and later C-119G's.
    Eight of the C-119F's were passed to the Norwegian Air Force during June-Sep. 1956 and the remaining ten were converted to 'G' standard in 1959, with some reserialling.
    The C-119G's CP-19 to CP-40 were delivered between 10Aug53 and 20Mar54 with CP-41 to CP-46 following ex-USAF in Feb58.
    All aircraft served with 15 Wing only, amassing some 154,157 flying hours until retired during 1972-73. Most went into storage at Koksijde, but CP-29 and CP-37 were believed to be sold to Ethiopia and CP-46 went to the Brussels Museum.
    (Source: Belgian Military Aviation 1945 - 1977, by Paul A.Jackson; Midland Counties Publications, 1977)

    Chuck Lunsford wrote this about the various C-82 / C-119 names....
    " The official name of the C-82 was "Packet." The first few C-82s were built by North American and they designed it, but Fairchild took over the contract and tooled up to built 200-plus C-82As. The C-82 had its shortcomings, so a 'redesign' was done, and the result was the XC-82B, still called a Packet.
    The new design was such a great and radical departure from the C-82 that the Air Force gave it a new designation: C-119A. The XC-82B and the C-119A were the same, one-off airplane, tail number 45-7769, pulled from the C-82 line and re-worked.
    It gets counted as two different airplanes, but it was the same one.

    When a contract was let to build 55 of the new C-119s in 1946, they were designated C-119B. Fairchild insisted it was just a redesigned C-82 Packet and they never changed the name. The official name of the C-119 was also "Packet," same as the C-82. Both the C-82 and the C-119, all the way to the last C-119G off the assembly line, 53-7884, were officially named Packet.
    C-119Js got a beaver-tail with an open-in-flight cargo door, C-119Ks got small jets under the wings, and C-119Ls got 3-bladed props--all still called Packet, including the C models and F models.
    There were no D or E model other than design submissions. All C-119s were eventually modified to G models. There was a one-off C-119H, a C model pulled off the assembly line and extensively modified to compete for the contract ultimately won by Lockheed with the C-130.
    A derivitive of the name was given to the XC-120, a re-worked C-82 that had removable pods, and was also a one-off. There were a total of 1,112 C-119s built from 1947 to 1953. In the late '60s, 52 C-119 Packets were pulled out of mothballs and sent to St. Augustine and modified to AC-119G 'Shadow' and AC-119K 'Stinger' gun ships, but those were only nicknames, as was the term "Flying Boxcar," which was applied to both the C-82 and C-119 because their cargo compartments were just about the same size as a railroad boxcar...
    All Flying Boxcars, Dollar-Nineteens, Charlie one one niners, Shadows Stingers, etc., manufactured by North American, Fairchild and Kaiser-Frazer.... were Packets."

    Jim Fowler wrote me in Mar.2006:
    "I came upon your web page recently and thought I could add a few facts I didn't see...
    I am a former member of the 456th Troop Carrier Wing. I first went to the Wing in May 1953. We were stationed at Miami IAP and the Wing had recently changed from the 435 TCW to the 456 TCW and our aircraft had been upgraded to C-119F models (they had Wright Cyclone R-3350 turbo compound engines and Hamilton Standard 24260 propellers. The C-119s of the 456th TCW started with serial numbers 51-803? to 51-8159.
    Later that summer we transferred to Charleston AFB,SC where we were an active Troop Carrier Wing. Again later we started training for our future role as a Aerial Recovery unit for a project we, in the lower ranks, were not officially informed of...
    During the next few years our aircraft were modified for the new project; there were engine modifications, hydraulic systems to handle the recovery poles, winch reels for the recovery of parachutes and their packages, long range fuel tanks were added and special rear doors to replace the old style clamshell doors. The new doors were called beavertail doors and were flight operable: lifting up in flight, then the bottom door surface raised into the upper part of the door, allowing recovery procedure.
    It was said at the time that we had air-to-ground, air-to-water and air-to-air recovery capability.
    We had good pilots but there were mishaps such as getting too close to a parachute and catching it with an engine and prop rather than the poles... This caused damage to the engine and the props, not to mention a minor laundry problem to those onboard!
    The 456th TCW had 3 Squadrons and during project operations each squadron had a detachment. These were the 744th (with a red nosecone band), the 745th (had a green nosecone band) and the 746th squadron (with the distinctive blue nosecone band). The one and only Blue Nosed Mules was stationed at NAS Kodiak, Alaska.
    You can look up most project information on the web using the keyword Operation Genetrix."
    Jim Fowler
    (ex member 746th TCS)

    Found this website on Genetrix, WS-461L, and Chaika: Cold War Balloons and Balloon Fighters, with lots of details and also a drawing of a C-119F with Beavertail modification, as used by 456 TCW for recovering Genetrix payloads.
    This is a small quote of that page: "After a series of test and development flights had been performed, under the codenames Grandson and Grayback, the first operational flights, codenamed Genetrix, were undertaken shortly after the New Year, 1956. The Genetrix balloons were far larger than any weather balloon and larger than anything tried during the war. Each was 100 feet (30 m) in diameter or more, at altitude. While the silvery plastic envelope made the craft highly visible in good weather, it also made them hard to track with radar. At their planned cruising altitude of 72,000 ft (22,153 m), they would be essentially invulnerable to Soviet defenses. Operational balloons would be launched from bases in Turkey and Germany, as well as from USN aircraft carriers and would be able to fly for 5 to 7 days, more than enough time to transit the Soviet Union. When they returned to friendly airspace, a coded radio signal would cut the gondola loose, to descend by parachute. A specially modified C-119F transport plane would then snag the payload at 20,000 feet and reel it in until handlers could wrestle it into the cargo hold of the aircraft."

    This photo is an Official Canadian Dept of Defense photograph, released for use.
    It shows Fairchild CC-119F Flying Boxcar 22110 of 435 Sqdn making an airdrop from, what I thought, an unusual hatch...
    I thought airdropping was limited to the cargohold's sidedoors or the (removed) clamshell doors and had not come across photos depicting this kind of action; I have John Lameck to thank for forwarding this photo to me.
    http://www.airforce.forces.gc.ca, thru the main page, to History, and then to Historical aircraft.
    CC-119F 22110 Btw... did the Canadians use any nicknames for the CC-119 ???

    Chuck Lunsford wrote me the following in explanation: "that Canadian airplane is dropping 'para-tainers.' Full name was parachute containers, and they were bundles hung from a rail that went from back to front in the center of the cargo compartment. A winding motor would pull them toward the front where they would drop off the rail and fall through the hatch.
    The paratainer hatch was in the floor just behind the forward bulkhead. The doors in the cargo floor were opened manually inward, and the outer doors electrically or hydraulically. The switch to open them was on the forward bulkhead in the cargo compartment. Nobody knows much about dropping paratainers--I never did it, nor did anyone else I'm in contact with. We don't know if the pilot actuated the automatic drop mechanism, or if it was done by crew chief or loadmaster in the cargo compartment.
    The order to drop would have been given by the pilot, but whether he had a switch, or just turned on a green light (or maybe he shouted down the flight-deck ladder) nobody knows. The only other picture I have ever seen of a 119 dropping paratainers was a C-119B/C doing it in Korea while simultaneously dropping troops. Unfortunately, I lost that picture. There may have been some safety reason we never used them, but we never did, not even in the big maneuvers where we were dropping food and gasoline to the mudsloggers of the U.S. Army. For those, we removed the clamshells, and all the drops were 'push it out the back'. "


    Bill Reid wrote me in May 2006:
    "The system for the para-drop from the bottom doors of the C119 was called a monarail drop. A very unreliable system, so it was not used often. The captain would notify the loadmaster over the intercom and use the light system at the same time.
    I was on one monorail drop in six years of flying as a Flight Engineer. It was for an air force day airshow. We were supposed to do the drop over the runway in front of the crowd. Instead the the system jammed up and we dropped across a highway and a trailer park!!
    Thank goodness no damage was done and no one was hurt on the ground.
    The aircraft was 22131 and the date July 1st, 1961."

    Chuck also relayed the following anecdote:
    " There is a funny story about the paratainer doors.  A radio operator (not me) got hold of some bad food in Beirut, and during the flight home, had to use the primitive toilet. It was stinking up the airplane, so the pilot told him to go down and throw it out of the airplane... 
    They were 9,000 feet over the Med, and in Beirut, the officers had bought some some of contraband--brocade I think, but whatever it was, they weren't supposed to bring it back to Dreux.  They opened the inner paratainer doors and stowed it there, out of sight, laying on the closed outer doors.  Well, when the radio operator tried to throw the contents of the honeybucket out a paratroop door, the slipstream blew it back in his face.  He was covered in it, and the pilots made him sign off watch and sit in the cargo compartment!! 
    The crew chief was very upset that this RO had gotten crap all over his clean airplane, and he made him clean it up.  He was using a broom, and inadvertently hit the paratainer door switch with the handle of the broom... 
    So the U. S. Air Force bombed the Med with some very expensive contraband! "

    In May 2006 Andre Swygert made me aware of a posting on the HistoryChannel.com bulletinboard by John M Hays, which I here reproduce in part:
    "I missed the opening few seconds of the segment of Mail Call tonight, about the way combat cargo hits the DZ. There were all sorts of whistles, gongs, etc., demonstrated as to how cargo gets right down on target.
    Then following was a segment on the "Dollar Nineteen". I was assigned to the 921st TAG of the 433 TCW at Kelly AFB, TX. Our unit was equipped with C-119s, the newest manufactured about 1953.
    The C-119 had a hard time hitting a 40 acre target with cargo using the drag (out) chutes that extracted the cargo over the DZ. Our unit's senior loadmaster (do not remember his name) noticed a long ago feature on the plane that had long ago been abandoned.....the "paratainer" gear.
    The C-119 had a power cable system on which were hung paratainers (about the size of a 15 gallon grease drum) with a small cargo chute attached. There was about a 4'x 4' "bombbay" door toward the front of the cargo deck. The system was probably last used during Korean hostilities. When the plane passed over the DZ, the door was opened, the paratainer system cable was put in motion and the containers dropped out the door in the floor. The problem was that only about 4000 lbs. of cargo could be suspended on the cable and the containers' opening was pretty variable, the chute pins being pulled by a static line, rather than the chute being pulled out by the line.
    Our loadmaster came up with the idea of rerouting the cable with a few new pulleys. And wrap that cable around cargo pallets to be dropped with the chutes being pulled out the packing as they exited the plane. It worked! We could hit within a few feet, instead a few hundred yards o the DZ target. I don't recall who came up with the idea of calling it "Sling Shot," but that was the system's ultimate identity. It worked like a charm.
    Some of us in the PIO were drafted to document the process and accuracy with still and motion pictures.... sometimes being suspended over the back door of the plane in cargo nets with no room for a parachute ourselves.
    After a year or so, Sling Shot became SOP in the Reserve units flying Dollar Nineteens. It was more accurate from 500' than a C-130 making a ground level parachute extraction approach....but the C-130 didn't have the old paratainer hardware.
    Ultimately the 433rd was awarded a Loening Trophy as the best AFRes unit and we all got some kind of ribbon to wear.
    The next year we flunked the Operational Readiness Inspection when the aircrews on our night drop assumed the red flares marked the DZ at old Hondo AFB. It seems that the flares marked an 18 wheeler with a load of watermelons and a flat tire. Another trucker with a similar load had stopped to help his buddy...
    Our three plane formation was perfect! They crushed every melon and bent severely both truck beds and smashed the cabs with the simulated "heavy loads" they deposited on that Texas Farm to Market road about 10 miles from the DZ..."
    John M Hays.
    His posting 28Jan05

    More HERE...

    In May 2006 Jim Reed wrote me:
    " I was advised of your website by Chuck Lundsford and came upon the shot of the C-119 that bellied in at Athens...
    We had a very similar crash at Evreux, with 12-602, a CF model of the 782nd TCS, 465th TCWg.
    On Takeoff from Evreux there were indications of an engine failing, I believe on the right engine, with backfiring and smoke coming from the engine, as reported by the tower. The pilot in the left seat retarded the throttle somewhat and put both hands on the yoke to start a turn to downwind to return for landing. No one had their hands on the throttles and they had failed to put the friction lock on. The throttle on the good engine vibrated back to idle and the next thing the pilot knew was that the airspeed was 80 knots and they were headed for a field off the end of the runway !!
    As in the crash at Athens the weight of the wings and engine collapsed the cargo compartment, more seriously than the Athens accident even and the airplane was totalled. Fortunately there were no passengers in the cargo compartment and there were no injuries to the crew. The only injuries were to careers..."
    Jim Reed
    C-119 Flt. Test and Instructor Pilot
    782nd TCSq. Toul/Evreux '55-'58

    Click on the 2 thumbnails for larger images:

    (c) Courtesey Jim Reed  (c) Courtesy Jim Reed

    Jim writes about these photos:
    "The one airborne is a 782nd TC SQ. night 3 ship formation, west of Evreux, probably around mid 1955.
    The other is of Ed Jones, 782nd TC Squadron, Maintenance Officer in front of C-119 CF model at Evreux. Ed Jones is on the viewers left, behind the briefcase and standing next to Jones is, I believe, a S/Sgt White Crew Chief of that particulare C-119 (tailnumber 12-598). Next to White is a Radio Operator and I was not able to determine his name although even after 50 years he still looks very familiar."

    9c0 Courtesy Jim Reed

    "Here is the third photo of the night formation. It was still light when we took off but it got mighty dark later". -Jim

    Jim also got to fly DC-3s later, have a look here.

    In July 2006 I received following email and photos:
    "Attached are photos of a plaque recently erected by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, marking the crash of a C-119G into the top of Blue Mountain in Perry County Pennsylvania on October 26, 1956.
    I hunt deer in that area and had often heard stories about the crash. DCR errected the plaque within the last year. This area is part of the Tuscarora State Forest. The photos are of the top and bottom halves of the plaque.
    I took the photos on July 2, 2006. I had seen the plaque in May while spring gobbler hunting. I was up at our deer camp to cut grass and before leaving for home, took the photos."
    Michael L. Landis
    in memory of... Location
    Art Barry sent me this photo in Sep.2006, of the same memorial plaque, an overall view: C-119 Memorial 1956 crash

    I have found no reference of this crash on the internet; I checked http://aviation-safety.net 1956 and http://baaa-acro.com 1956

    Steve Shaffer sent me below clipping in Sep.2013, found on Facebook:
    'C119 crash Perry County PA 1956'

    Crash C-119 1956 Perry County

    And here's another link, provided by Steve:

    Jerre Divelbiss wrote me in Oct.2006 with a question:
    "I am looking for some information on a Military Plane Crash. It was on Sunday January 15th 1961 about 6 miles outside Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. The Plane was a C-119 assigned to the 433rd Troop Carrier Wing at Kelly AFB Texas (51-2639, c/n 10628). There were 5 men onboard and all were killed. The pilot was James H. Wilson, S/N A0750750. I'm looking for any information pertaining to the cause, exact location and/or photos.
    Am trying to find this information for the pilot's son, Rick Wilson.

    I found a link on Aviation-Safety.net: it identifies the Fairchild C-119C-26-FA Flying Boxcar as (military serial) 51-2639 (construction no. 10628) but offers no information on cause, exact location and does not provide photos either.
    The link does provide a further link to NewspaperARCHIVE.com but I have no idea if that would bring further information to light (one needs to register it seems).

    In Aug.2008 I got an email from 'Youngstown, OH Bob' and he included copies of several Accident Reports in this Acrobat Reader .pdf Fuile


    In July 2006 Mike Swiatecki shared this with me-
    "I flew as crewchief on a Marine Corps C-119, stationed at NAS Minneapolis in the summer of 1969 through March of 1970.
    When everything was working right, which by the way wasn't very often..., they flew great. The winter months were not kind to that aircraft. The Wright 3350 engine had a 70 gallon oil tank. Pre-heaters were used in the late fall and winter months to help warm up the area around the engines. By the time you got the pre-heaters off the aircraft and got everything else ready to go the effect of the pre-heaters was lost!
    A five horsepower APU was used to help crank the engine. All the pilots cared about was getting the engine started. The initial surge in engine RPM with those very cold temps and a 60 weight engine oil caused the inter cylinder drains and push rod tube seals to leak like sieves.
    Replacing those blown seals outside on the tarmac and washing down the tailbooms with PD-680 dry cleaning solvent on those very cold days are two of the memories I will carry to my grave about my time with the C-119...
    Still, she was a great aircraft to be in: firing up that 3350 on a -10 degree winter morning you could see, feel, hear, and smell the horsepower! Though of course the 115/145 octane avgas helped heighten all of your senses back then."

    C-119s at Minneapolis
    Bruce Bruemmer wrote me in Oct.2107: "Thought you would be interested in this. Got a kick from the narrative on your site about starting c-119s in the cold!
    I was doing historical research on the Minneapolis area, and looking at aerial photographs. For fun I switch over to the airport and was pretty interested in the image from May 1960.
    You can see the current terminal under construction (the one that was featured in the first Airport movie about 9 years later). Even more interesting were the parked planes just north of runway 11R...
    A friend thought they were P-38s, but that did not seem likely since they were not used much after WWII.
    Upon closer inspection, I decided they must be C-119s!
    I am not sure what they were doing being there in 1960, because the written histories all have Minneapolis as a between time for the Air Force wings. But having transports does make sense!"

    Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport, also known as Wold–Chamberlain Field: Wikipedia

    Adrian Reedy wrote me in Sep.2006 and also included some photos:
    '325'"I'm a retired Delta Air Lines 767 Captain, living in the Dallas Texas area. I have flown as a crewmember and passenger on many of the aircraft on Propliners while I was in the 101st Airborne Division and later with Delta.
    I was in the 101st skydiving club with a someone named Lee Meyers and was wondering if he is the same one listed on this webpage.
    I've attached several pictures from my 101st days. I knew the regiment photographer who used to give me extra copies of his pictures."

    101st parachute Club - Armed Forces Day at Stead AFB"The Stead AFB (Reno Nevada) picture shows me as second from the right with (I think) Lee at the end on my left. It is scanned from an old newspaper and not very good qualilty, so I may be mistaken."

    Tailgate jump with Ft.campbell in the background

    Jacob Chakko wrote me in Oct.2006:
    "I am a retired Gp Capt Jacob Chakko of the Indian Air Force. I immigrated to the USA in 1969 and worked for Stewart-Davis Inc (S-D Inc) and was at one time their Chief Engineer in Long Beach. The President and the VP of S-D Inc at that time were Herb Steward and Dan Thompson.
    I was also instrumental in modifying a PBY Amphibian as a 'water bomber', fighting fires in LA and we had modified about 7 such aircraft to do this.
    We had a major contract with the IAF to give them support for the Packet C-119G aircraft with J-34-3400 Westinghouse engines as Jet Packs (like the C-82 that PanAm had at that time with the Westinghouse 1600s).
    Before that, while I was in the IAF, I was responsible for installing an Orpheus jet Engine on the C-119G Packets and this was a major success; S-D had a major part supporting this effort too."
    Regards from:
    Jacob K. Chakko,
    Bangalore, India.

    Jacob further wrote to me:
    "Not much info has been 'webbed' regarding Steward-Davis Inc in Long Beach,CA. They were really a fantastic outfit and I had the great honor and privilege of working with them both within the IAF in India, and later from within S-D Inc working with India.Memoirs, an interesting read!
    I have written my MEMOIRS which has been published here, it refers to many interesting episodes.
    I am now 82, going on 83.
    Steward-Davis Inc fell on some bad times later on about the late 1970s, early 80s and since we did not pursue very high tech situations, I guess we fell by the wayside. But while we were active, I am sure we contributed to the progress that the US can and will always be proud of. You can get some info on the Internet, but I am sure my book could also be of interest.
    Herb Steward passed away 2 years ago at 84 in LA. Dan Thompson the VP is still alive and lives in LA and is 88.
    A picture herewith of the Orpheus Jet Packet C119G in the IAF flying on the Jet alone, with the propellors feathered !
    It is a really a sight for those who have have been able to see it. It is not flying straight and level, but will do a very long powered glide. And this picture is one that has adorned many a flight office in the IAF."
    C-119 with Orpheus Jet
    Click on the thumbnail for a larger image
    Gliding on the Jet
    Jacob Chakko

    Kindest regards to you. Jacob Chakko.

    Two more photos of the book, which was kindly send to me by Grp Captain Jacob Chakko
    powerful take off from HAL Airfield, Bangalore   Indian Air Force C-119 at Ladakh

    Franz A. Vajda sent me following information in April 2010:

    Indian Air Force C-119Gs (Total 79)

    End 1954: 26 received - 53-4637 to 4662 - Indian IK441 to 466, to 12° sqn
    July 1960: 29 received - mixed - Indian BK502 to 530 to 19° sqn
    May 1963: 24 received - mixed - Indian K962 to 985, both sqns
    Used until 1985
    [Source: ? ]

    Chris Le Fave wrote me in Oct.2006 with following request:
    "I am researching a wreck site that I recently visited. The wreck is of C-119G, sn 53-3195/ cn 11208 which crashed on 30Sep1966.
    I have not been able to locate a whole lot of information as to markings or plane history. So far your website has been the most helpful.
    I am doing a painting as a memorial to the crew and would like to make it as accurate as possible. The crew was out of March Field,CA.
    Can you help me locate squadron markings or photos of the plane itself or at least point me in the right direction?
    The plane went into the side of Pleasant View Ridge above Wrightwood, CA.
    Anything would be appreciated."
    Thank you,

    In Aug.2008 I got an email from 'Youngstown, OH Bob' and he included copies of several Accident Reports in this Acrobat Reader .pdf File among which a report on 53-3195.

    Chuck Lunsford forwarded me this unsettling photograph of C-119G Flying Boxcar 53-8152.
    53-8152 crash

    The photo was taken by Harry Dawley who also wrote the following (and check the link to that pdf file for more details):
    "I remember that the Air Force initially tried to prove that we had not handled the situation correctly and that the Prop could not do what we claimed it had done... Fortunately further tests proved that it could and that we had in fact done a good job and they awarded us The Air Medal.
    As I remember it, the pilot, crewchief and I had two significant discussions and decisions.
    The first was when we knew we could not reach the coast unless we reduced the drag created by the wind milling prop turning the engine. We figured that by cutting off the oil the engine would freeze and the prop shaft might break. The unknown was what the prop might do next...
    The second big decision was once we barely reached the coast and got the passengers out, whether we would jump also or ditch it in the water or land it on the beach. We could distinguish the dark land, the white beach and the dark water. The Pilot, crew chief and I decided we would go for the beach.
    It turned out that the beach had a much steeper slope than we had hoped and we turned into the water right after hitting the beach. The picture was taken that same evening. At least one of us must have had some influence above because we later found that if we had hit about 500 feet further down the beach, there was a big washout, and we probably would have not survived!
    As you can see in the picture, the plane was still pretty much intact, but the next morning when we returned to the site, the tide had pretty much destroyed the plane. I had a picture of that also, but cannot find it."

    Crash report 53-8152 on Acrobat Reader pdf format

    Chuck Lunsford added the following comment:
    "That makes three of the 12th airplanes in question as to what eventually happened to them. 8152, 8156 and 8140.

    Photo; Harry Dawley Collection
    8152 in better days...
    Photo: Harry Dawley Collection, via Chuck Lunsford

    Joe Baugher's list says they went to the Italian Air Force, but I know 8140 crashed in Texas, 8152 was probably written off (but see below), and I have pictures of 8156 attached to a guard unit in New England. I'm beginning to wonder if all my research about the Kaisers was right...
    It's possible that 8152 was salvaged, and maybe 8156 went to the Italians after New England, but there's no question about 8140--I've been in contact with the engineer who had to bail out of it in 1962."

    Chuck added:
    "I flew with Dawley several times, a good guy and fun to fly with. Hardesty came after I left and I did not know him. Nor did I know the radio operator or the engineer.
    Although this happened only 8 months after I left, there had been a lot of changes in the personnel of the squadron. We had no radio operators who were Staff Sergeants when I left--he was probably a transfer who had been promoted long before they froze the promotions for radio operators. All of us mustered out of the Air Force with the same 2 stripes of Airman Second Class we had when we got there... I flew 8152 a lot, but not with that engineer."

    So what happened to 53-8152 ???
    Chuck contacted a fellow author, Jerry McAuliffe; he wrote:
    About C-119G 53-8152; the aircraft was towed to higher ground, the engine was repaired and ground towing damage was repaired too. It was flown off a nearby road.
    The aircraft damage occurred while towing off the beach, not upon landing.
    This info was provided by Gen. Jack Watkins, Cmdr 322d Air Div, during a personal visit about 3 years ago. He fought hard to have the accident reclassified as a ground accident, not a flying accident, to maintain a 322nd flying safety record; HQs USAFE agreed and changed the report prior to submission to the HQs USAF!
    So an aircraft accident report might not be found!
    Met Gen.Watkins again during the 317th TCWg Reunion Dinner here in town on 08Sep06; he is now 95 years old and a very sharp gentleman. He flew combat in P-40s in Egypt 1942 with the 79th Ftr Gp. I presented him with a copy of my book."
    Jerry McAuliffe

    So the rumor of it being towed off the beach, repaired and flown out of there, is true. If nothing else happened to 53-8152, then it could have been ferried to the USA in 1962, sent to AMARC, where it could then have been sold or given (e.g. under the NATO agreement to the Italian Air Force).

    C-119 wreck Then Chuck sent me this photo, with has the caption: "View looking North-Eastalonf the beach, distance from photographer to aircraft 300 feet. Wreckage in the foreground had been torn loose from the nose section of the aircraft by the sea action and washed ashore during hight tide. Left propellor had been removed prior to this photograph."
    This casts doubt again on the possibility of it ever been repaired; the damage must have been extensive and the aircraft was classified as "destroyed on the ground", as the crew landed it intact.
    And this is the scene "morning after"...The morning after...
    Chuck wrote me in Dec.2006: "...here's a better picture in color of the remains of 8152 taken the next morning, March 6th, 1960, which also shows the crew.
    Harry Dawley found the actual print in his records and I cleaned it up with my software. He is on the left, Hardesty the pilot next, and the flight engineer next. He does not remember who the guy on the right is--possibly the radio operator, who bailed out the night before."

    "I noticed the subject of engine water-injection (actually a mixture of alcohol and water injected directly into the cylinders on take off) has been little adressed and somewhat underexposed..
    I think each R4Q carried 100 gallons and about 4 to 5 gals would be used on each takeoff; the pilot would flip a toggle switch, the water went in and away you went!
    Well I recall one where it didn't...
    Once upon a time...: it was early 1960's and our squadron lost an engine in Guantanamo Bay (Cuba!). I was one of mechanics "chosen" to go down there and change that engine; it promised to be a simple job, would take about 4 days.
    Off we went. We brought an engine on an L-stand and a spare L-stand for the old engine, plus about 8 or 9 guys.
    Things went well: we changed the engine, did a couple of test hops and some 10 hours flying around the airfield. At no time during these procedures the water-injection system was used; we did not need it, being empty.
    Now sun rises on the 4th day and we are ready to fly this big bird home....
    I clearly recall that day: we took off with the ocean on our right and a sort of small mountain in front of us. To improve our take off, the pilot flipped the switch for the water injection and... we saw the left engine go on fire!!! Smoke pouring out everywhere... people on the ground knew this plane was going to crash!
    Meanwhile, back in the cargo bay: we were on fire, so we grabbed harnesses and chutes and were lined up at the clamshell door waiting for the word 'jump'....
    This would have been a disaster, because the shutes would never have opened in time, we never got over one thousand feet and at least 12 hundred was needed for that type of shute.
    We could see a runway right in front of us, on the other side of that mountain, but the pilot did not want to land there, because that was the Cuban side (or maybe the runway wasn't long enough to take off again later); in any event, the pilot kept a cool head.
    He considered that all he saw was smoke, but the instuments gave no fire warninglights; he reduced that engine to 15 hundred rpm and slowly turned to fly out over the water on one engine.
    Boy, that must have been the longest 10 or 15 minutes !!
    After the landing we talked about what happened. We found oil all the way out to the end of the boom and I suppose the heat from the turbines caused all the smoke, but we never did have a fire.
    We spent 7 days trying to figure out what the cause was. We literally tore that engine apart, but couldn't find a thing. Cherry Point flew down a rep (I think from Pratt & Whitney, but to no avail).
    All we found was the water went to the oil tank and was vented out, it never went into the engine.
    By the 10th day or so it was decided to leave our cargo behind, because they did know it was 'water' -related and it was best to lighten the load on that that flight home.
    At homebase they found that the gasket on the power controlvalve wasn't installed correctly, was reversed in some way and instead of water going to the cylinders it went into the oil tank!
    Three near disasters that day, imagine if we had jumped or if the pilot had landed on Cuban soil (this was shortly before the Cuban missile crisis) or if the pilot had feathered that engine.. Thanks to a cool head we got back safely.
    I have relived that event many,many times in the past 45 years and I thought it a good idea to share it here,"

    Robert Vlach wrote me in Feb.2007 with this recollection:
    My father was a Crew Chief on R4Q’s during the Korean War.. Based at K-19, I think.
    Back in 1970-1971, he was sent to Vietnam. We moved onto an old air force base, next to the airport in Lincoln,Nebraska. The base was intact pretty much, but the only thing they were using, was the Housing on the base...
    My friends and I were out going through the old base. Never anyone around! We had the barracks and every other building to ourselves. Including all the old Hangars.
    Well, parked out side were around 5-7 old C-119, I believe they were painted in Canadian colors. They were all unlocked, and you know how 12 old boys can be: we had to get up inside of them !!!
    Well, for the summer of 1971, I and a group of my friends, had these planes all to ourselves. We each had our own plane
    Then one day… we got caught by the local Sheriff, playing in the planes…
    Needless to say, that ended our time in the Old Boxcars, but it was a summer I will never forget.
    Spent almost every waking minute on those old planes, all summer long…
    Just wondering what ever became of them.
    One thing I will never forget was, when we watched the original movie Flight of the Phoenix, one scene from the inside of the plane had my father's squadron name appear on it... a VMR unit, I think.

    Roger Wyckof replied to this:
    "I noticed Robert Vlach's letter to you concerning his father being a Crew Chief on R4Q's during the Korean War. He mentioned that he saw the 1965 version of The Flight of the Phoenix movie and saw a Flight Board with some information about a VMR squadron.
    The R4Q-1 used in the 1965 version with Jimmy Stewart was BuNo 126580 and was in VMR-253 while I was an airborne radio operator in 253 at Iwakuni, Japan in 1958 and 1959. It was used to make a non-flying prop in the movie. It did have an operating engine and was even taxied by Stewart. I made at least one flight in 126580.
    The Flight Board was filled in for the movie flight giving the departure point and the destination. It listed Stewart's character, Townes, or Towns, as the pilot. At the top, it has VMR-253 and R4Q-1 BuNo 126580. That scene occurs approximately one hour and twenty minutes into the movie. It is when there is a discussion about somebody stealing from their drinking water supply.
    If Mr. Vlach is interested, he can obtain just about everything about The Flight of the Phoenix movies. All he needs to do is go to Simon Beck's web site www.uswarplanes.net and, under Contents on the Home Page, click on Special Feature, Flight of the Phoenix.

    Giancarlo de Astis wrote me in Feb.2007:
    I stumbled across your website on a search for Fairchild C-119 inboard wing flaps and was wondering if you know of any for sale or would have some contacts about ones for sale or being scrapped. C-119 inboard flap as furniture
    We are located in Boulder,CO. The flaps are used for functional furniture. Please reference the website www.deastisdesigns.com.
    We went to the Hawkins and Powers auction in Greybull last summer but sadly only found two unattached; there were entire C-119’s there, but they were sold to scrappers and/or museums at a price way out of our range. We are a very small business, myself and my wife, and it was difficult for us to compete on that scale.
    We are not sure how to get access to AMARC. Haveco (National Aircraft Inc.) in Tucson was scrapping a plane, but the others were sold for the movie Flight of the Phoenix, so there are no more available there either...
    Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.

    Fred Mitchell wrote me in June; while he wasn't a C-119 crewmember, he has nice C-119 recollections to share:
    "I just ran across the website... For the first time in years I remembered an incident at Addison,TX in 1962 involving a C-119 that was converted to an electronics lab and operated by Fairchild. I worked for Texas Instruments at the time and we had a hangar on the Addison airport, which back then was still very much the typical GA airport with a few hangars and a coffee shop. The other corporate tenant besides TI was Collins Radio. The Fairchild C-119 was there because TI was developing some electronics for a Fairchild reconaissance drone. I was on a different project, so had little to do with that operation, but was just a witness to this story. This airplane had no jets, which has a bearing on the story.
    One afternoon the C-119 took off and immediately began a return to the pattern. We noticed that one engine was smoking and the downwind speed seemed painfully slow... There was no control tower in those days, barely a Unicom, but there was no other pattern traffic. Right at touchdown the port engine exhaust flamed up. I'm pretty sure the electronics guys were hitting the ground through the open rear doors before the ship stopped rolling, but the fire (oil, I'm sure) went out by itself. The airport "emergency equipment" (a fuel truck!) came rolling out to meet the airplane as it stopped on the runway.
    A big A-frame crane was borrowed from Collins, and the C-119 was positioned on the ramp in front of the TI hangar. A replacement engine was flown in by another C-119 and the engine change was done in the open, on the spot. I would swear that those were R-4360s, but after all it has been 45 years! I do remember hearing that 14 gallons of oil disappeared during that very abbreviated flight.
    An amusing sidelight was watching a sort of STOL demo between the C-119 and a C-130 that was there being fitted with some spook stuff by Collins. The C-119 got the first shot and didn't look bad, but the lightweight C-130 did more of a "VTOL" than "STOL" to win hands down...
    By 1968 I was working for Varo, a night vision company, and I spent one day at Lockbourne AFB looking over an AC-119 that was a candidate for an IR searchlight, which in those days Varo built for tanks, but nothing came of it."

    Shadow gunships on standby
    Lou Ruggiero sent me these photos in Dec.2007.
    Lou wrote: "Here are 3 photos I thought you may enjoy... They are C-119G models in the Shadow Gun Ship Configeration, sitting in their reventments at Phan Rang Air Base,RVN late 1968.
    The aircraft were assigned to the 71 Special Operations Squadron, which was later replaced by the 17th SOS in June 1969."
    USAF AC-119 Gunship -Stories & Sorties-
    AC-119 on Wikipedia
    C-119 Shadow by Lou Ruggiero
    Armed and extremely dangerous

    In Dec.2007 I received following email from Bud Foster:
    I was with the 59th Weather Recon. Squadron at Kindley AFB, Bermuda, from Dec. 55 to Dec 57. In addition to our original WB-29s and later WB-50s, we had a support C-119: 49-167. SSgt Ray Story was the crew chief and the only person with 119 experience. I think it had R-4360s but I'm not sure.
    The B-29s had R-3350s and the B-50s had R-4360s engines. It seems like the C-119 was AOCP about 80% of the time and was very ineffective in support... It was eventually sent on to a reserve or guard unit at Wilmington AFS, Ohio, when we got a C-54 to replace it.
    Bud Foster
    Fort Walton Beach, FL

    I came across one reference of C-119C 49-167: it had been in an accident on 05Oct1950 in Korea.No details though and obviously repaired for further service.

    Hugo provide following photos and information in Jan.2008:

    I was a radio operator in VMR 252, stationed a Cherry Point, NC, from November 1951 to November 1953. The photo was taken on a flight from Cherry Point to Guantanamo, and we had a weapons carrier vehicle aboard. Our sister squadron at the Point, VMR 153, was also flying south and our pilot asked if they would pose for a photo, which was done. They pulled along side and pealed off when I was taking my picture. The call letters of VMR 153 were AC as reflected on the tail. The call letters on our tail were LH (love how). When I started flying in 1952 we were flying R4Q-1’s with 4360 engines. Shortly thereafter we were given R4Q-2’s powered by 3350 engines with turbines, which for a while could blow up. Consequently, we lined the cockpit and cargo area with flak curtains which curtailed our load capacity considerably.

    During my time with VMR-252, we lost one plane in Whiting Field,FL killing 42 ROTC students returning from summer training in Texas, and returning to Norfolk. The flight along with all the other ships of the squadron stopped at Whiting Field to refuel Speculation, was the the night take-off accident happened because of failure of the horizon gyro. The only survivor was the navigator, named Jerry Tuttle, from upstate NY.
    The other ship we lost was a training flight at Cherry Point. On take off the ship lost an engine, and it seemed the pilot banked on the dead engine, without enough speed or altitude and proceeded to go down.

    C-119s of VMR-252

    This one was taken in 1951 or 1952, while flying somewhere over the States.
    I think it is a very special picture of three R4Q’s in formation, with clearly visible numbers and tail markings. They are numbers 574, 738, and 579, with all showing LH on the tails which was the USMC, VMR-252 tail markings.
    S/Sgt. Hugo A. Ruiz

    Here are some images Hugo sent along:

    Hugo Ruiz

    Hugo wrote to these photos: "The photo with the clam shells open was taken in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
    The shot of a take off was in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
    And the others are photos of our squadron aircraft, while parked or taxiing and one of me after an air drop at Camp Lejeune.
    All were taken in 1952/53 and all are shots of VMR 252 aircraft."
    Roger Wyckoff wrote me in Feb.2008:
    "On checking out Hugo Ruiz's photos, I noticed one R4Q-1 that I flew on while I was with VMR-253 at Iwakuni. The one with '580' on it.
    I believe it is a R4Q-1, prior to being outfitted with the radar noses.
    580 is probably BuNo 126580, which would be the one Marine R4Q used in the making of the 1965 Flight of the Phoenix movie, starring Jimmy Stewart."
    Check out Roger Wyckoff shares photos and memories

    Larry Kraus wrote:
    "I ended up spending most of September and the begining of October of 1980 at Fox Field in Tanker 68. It was a split contract that started in Alamogordo in April and moved to West Yellowstone in July.They wanted to close the base at WYS around September 1st because of freezing conditions and crummy weather.
    I ended up going to Porterville and Fresno before ending up at Fox. Here is a picture of Tanker 81 at Silver City from a fire that we both worked out of SVC in 1980."
    N13743 Tanker 81


    Hemet 1982


    C-119s at Ramona


    N13744 Tanker 86 at Ramona

    My gateway to various C-119 pages

    External links:
    N15501 on Mojave Weblog (Feb.2005)
    C-119 crashes in Aviation Safety Net database
    David Steiner's C-119 webpage
    12th T.C. Squadron A webpage with lots of information on the C-119
    Last commercial C-119s, now in Alaska
    C-119 Census at OldProps
    C-119 information by David Steiner
    Joe Baugher's USAF Serial Number Search Results: C-119
    Joe Baugher's Navy & Serial Number Search Results: C-119

    Chuck Lunsford wrote a book about his days as a radio operator onboard the C-119:
    Click here "Departure Message"

    He also wrote a novel, featuring the C-119 Flying Boxcar, called "Boxcar Down, the Albanian Incident" Click here

    Both books can be bought through Amazon.com and are also available as eBook for Kindle!

    Charles 'Chuck' Lunsford (76) was diagnosed with liver and spine cancer; he passed away on 21Sep12.
    I will miss our regular correspondence on the C-119 and less mundane subjects. I learned much from him and shared the information on the
    C-119 Information Pages, esspecially at a time when so little on this aircraft had been published in writing.
    Rest in peace, old friend. - Ruud Leeuw, webmaster

    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".
    Update Jan.2014: the book CHARLIE CHASERS – History of USAF AC-119 “Shadow” Gunships in the Vietnam War – was published by Hellgate Press in 2013. My website is www.shadowgunships.com. Hardback, Paperback, and Ebooks are available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and from the publisher at http://hellgatepress.com.

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