Colossal cargo haulers at the Air Mobility Command Museum


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Flying Jeep

Yes, that’s an entire Jeep inside this Waco CG-4 glider. This specific aircraft was restored at the museum using original blueprints.

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C-47

No cargo aircraft is more legendary than the C-47. 

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War hero

This specific example, painstakingly restored at the museum, dropped paratroopers on D-Day, flew wounded soldiers back to England, and more.  

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Un-cargo

There are a few non-cargo aircraft at the museum, like this immaculate B-17. 

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Bomb bay

For short-range missions, the B-17 could carry up to 8,000 pounds of bombs.

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Ball turret

The iconic B-17 ball-turret is so tiny.

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Inside

Imagine being squeezed in there for hours at a time, all while being under fire thousands of feet up.

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Rear compartment

The B-17 is really so much smaller than you’d think.

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Chop chop

This intermeshing-rotor HH-43B Huskie is one of the few helicopters at the museum. 

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Hello there

It was used for air rescue in the 1960s.

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Original tower

The original control tower from the adjacent Dover Air Force Base stands at the museum. In the air, you can see a C-17 Globemaster III, which was doing a series of training exercises while I was touring.

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Starlifter

The C-141 was a jet-powered replacement for aging propeller-driven cargo aircraft. It first few in 1963 and some planes remained in service until 2006. 

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Local

This example was the last C-141 stationed here at Dover and was retired to the museum in 1996. The C-17 replaced the C-141.

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Heavy lifter

C-141s could carry over 70,000 pounds of cargo.

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Early airlifter

This C-141A is actually the first built and first flew in December 1963. You can see its replacement flying above.

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Shorty

Later Starlifter models were stretched while keeping the same overall design.

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And Pointy

The aptly named Delta Dart is one of the few fighter aircraft at the museum. This example, stationed at Dover AFB in the early 70s, was the last interceptor aircraft here.

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C-130

Arguably the most successful post-WWII cargo aircraft, the C-130 first flew in 1954. They’re still in service and in production.

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Cockpit

This example is the “E” variant, and served with the Air Force from 1969 to 2004.

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E for extended

The 130E has external fuel tanks on the wings and more powerful engines, among other changes, for better range and performance.

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Cargo+

In addition to cargo, the C-130 has been developed into a variety of variants, including gunships, command and control centers, refueling tankers, reconnaissance and more.

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Old to new

If you want to see what a new model of this aircraft looks like, I toured a modern J variant, along with a ton of other aircraft, at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

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Boxcar

Before the C-130 there was the C-119 Boxcar. This C variant, under restoration, first flew in 1950.

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TV star

This aircraft, in addition to service during the Korean War, also spent several years as a firefighting tanker. It even appeared in a 1985 episode of MacGyver.

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Attacker

This is an A-26 Invader, which is a light bomber and ground attack aircraft. It was restored here at the museum.

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Long range fighter

The F-101 Voodoo was initially designed for long-range bomber escort, but was developed into a fighter-bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

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Provider

You’d be forgiven thinking this was a 2-engine version of the C-130. It’s actually a C-123 Provider, which pre-dates the C-130 by several years. It first flew in 1949. 

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Pistons and turbines

This K variant has two small J85 turbojets to aid with takeoff or when it needed additional power during flight.  

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Movie G

The museum’s other Flying Boxcar is the later G variant. This example was flown by the Royal Canadian Air Force, then as a fire bomber and later in the Steven Spielberg movie Always.

It was restored by the museum.

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Caribou

This is a C-7A Caribou, designed and built by de Havilland Canada. This example served in the Vietnam War.

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Cargomaster

This low-slung aircraft is the C-133B Cargomaster, which flew from the mid-50s to the early 70s.

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Tall boy

I wish I could have gone inside this one. It’s a C-124A Globemaster II, an early post-war transport and cargo aircraft. They were replaced by the C-141. This is the only surviving A variant.

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Work in progress

Many of the aircraft at the museum were restored on site. Sharp-eyed viewers will have figured out this is not a B-29, but a KB-50J or the later tanker variant of the B-50 (which was developed from the B-29). The turbojets are the giveaway. This is the first B-50 converted to a KB-50.

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Stratofreighter

Developed from the KB-50, the KC-97 played dual roles as a cargo aircraft and an in-flight gas station. The jet engines, a later addition, allowed it to more easily refuel faster aircraft.

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Boom!

To keep up with much faster aircraft, like the B-52, the KC-97 would climb higher and connect with the aircraft. Both would then descend to increase speed beyond what the KC-97’s propellers could deliver on their own. Adding jet engines certainly sounds like a safer fix.

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Galaxy

The C-5 is one of the largest production aircraft ever and one of the largest planes in any museum anywhere.

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Rear loading door

You can roll on and roll off cargo as big and as heavy as M-1 Abrams main battle tanks.

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Can it fit?

The Wright brother’s first powered flight was shorter than the C-5’s cargo hold. You could fit 6 buses in here.

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Upper deck

The cockpit, crew rest area, galley, and additional seating are all on the upper deck.

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Forward loading door

The entire nose pivots upwards to allow full access to the cargo hold.

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Small but many

Each of the C-5s tires aren’t particularly large, but there are 28 of them to evenly distribute the weight of the aircraft and its cargo.

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Turbofans

Older C-5s were powered by the revolutionary GE TF39 turbofan, which was designed specifically for the Galaxy. It was developed into the successful CF6 line of engines which was used in a variety of passenger aircraft like the Boeing 747, 767, Airbus 300 series and more. Incidentally, Boeing initially designed the aircraft that would become the 747 to compete for the military contract that the Lockheed C-5 won.

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Still in service

The remaining 52 C-5s have all been converted to the C-5M spec, which features a variety of upgrades including more powerful and fuel efficient engines, new avionics, frame upgrades and more. It’s expected to remain in service with the Air Force until the 2040s. Most cargo-hauling jobs are handled by the smaller, but far more efficient and newer C-17.

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