Last week, the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, UK held an official handover ceremony for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, XV202, in the presence of Air Marshal Baz North of the Royal Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Ian Corbitt (Retired), Sir Michael Marshall, Chairman of Marshals as well as several former Hercules airmen. Though the museum has actually been in possession of the plane for some time, the official hand-over transferred the ownership to the museum and was occasioned by the museum receiving the aircraft’s log book or “Form 700” as it’s referred to within the RAF. The information contained within the log book includes the craft’s service history and details of each flight including flight times. According to the RAF Museum, the usual procedure within the RAF is to destroy the information shortly after an aircraft is surplussed, a policy which leaves us incredulous.
The Hercules was originally designed after experience in the Korean War revealed a need for a more capable transport aircraft. Lockheed’s design employed a high tail which allowed for an unobstructed rear loading ramp where vehicles could be driven aboard and also used for cargo dropping. The C-130 could lift its load into the air in 1/5th of the runway length that contemporary cargo carriers required and the plane was gone on to become one of the most successful aircraft designs in the history of military aircraft. In continuous production from 1954 to the present, the plane is now produced as the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. C-130s are operated by more than 60 countries, and its unique capabilities of have seen it become the backbone of the RAF’s transport and logistical arms. The Hercules can operate from short unprepared airstrips, but also possesses the endurance to mount long-range strategic lifts if required. RAF C-130s were based on the UNited States’ C-130E, but are fitted with British Avionics, a roller conveyor system in the floor and four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops.
In RAF service as a troop carrier, the Hercules can carry 92 fully armed men, while for airborne operations 64 paratroopers can be dispatched in two simultaneous “sticks” through the plane’s side doors. Alternatively, 40 paratroops can jump from the rear loading ramp. As an air ambulance, the aircraft can accommodate 74 stretchers. Freight loads that can be parachuted from the aircraft include. 16 x 1 ton containers or 4 x 8,000 pound platforms or 2 x 16,000 pound platforms or 1 x platform of 30,000 pounds plus. The RAF performed a stretch on 31 of their C-130s by adding 15 feet to the fuselage, providing 37% more Cargo space.
The museum’s Hercules, XV202 served in RAF from 1967 to 2011 when it was retired. There are still many C-130Ks serving in the RAF, that are being replaced on a one for one basis with the current Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. RAF Museum Director, Peter Dye is enthusiastic about the C-130 in their collection, stating: “The Royal Air Force Museum is delighted that it has been able to acquire an example of this iconic and ubiquitous aircraft. Hercules XV202 will allow us not only to celebrate the achievements of this hugely important type, but also to tell the story of those thousands of individuals who operated and supported the aircraft – from the frontline to industry. We share Marshall Aerospace’s pride in their contribution to the Royal Air Force, and the Hercules in particular, and are delighted that they have been able to help us to make this official handover the significant and memorable occasion it deserves. Today also provides an opportunity to recognise just how much the Royal Air Force’s Hercules fleet, and those associated with it since 1967, have contributed to all three Services, the nation and the international community – it is a record of faultless service, dedication, sacrifice and professionalism.”
Here’s a great short prepared by the RAF Museum with interviews of RAF airmen who’ve flown the C-130, it’s well worth a look!