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C-130 Hercules

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The Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop aircraft, is the workhorse of the United States military forces. Capable of landing and taking off from short, rough dirt runways, it is a people and cargo hauler and is used in a wide variety of other roles, such as gunships, weather watchers, tankers, firefighters and aerial ambulances. There are more than 40 versions of the Hercules, and it is widely used by more than 50 nations.

United States Air Force C-130 Hercules
Larger version

The KC-130 tanker is equipped with a removable 136.26 hectoliter (3600 gallon) stainless steel fuel tank that is carried inside the cargo compartment providing additional fuel when required. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue aerial refueling pods each transfer up to 1135 liters (300 gallons) per minute to two aircraft simultaneously allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations (a typical tanker formation of four aircraft in less than 30 minutes).

Deliveries of the C-130A to the U.S. military began in December 1956 and the first B models came on board in April 1959. The newest is the J model, but the H model also remains in production.

Variants of the C-130 include

  • AC-130 gunship
  • DC-130 and GC-130 drone control
  • EC-130 Commando Solo command and control, and electronic warfare
  • HC-130 special operations refueling, long-range surveillance, search and rescue
  • JC-130 and NC-130 space and missile operations
  • KC-130 tactical refueling tanker
  • LC-130 Arctic & Antarctic support
  • MC-130 special operations
  • PC-130 maritime patrol
  • RC-130 reconnaissance
  • SC-130 search and rescue
  • VC-130 VIP transport
  • WC-130 weather reconnaissance

General Characteristics

  • Primary Function: Global airlift
  • Contractor: Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company, Marietta, Georgia
  • Power Plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, each 4,300 horsepower
  • Thrust: Horsepower each engine: AC-130A, 3,750 hp; AC-130H, 4,910 hp
  • Length: 97 feet 9 inches (29.3 meters)
  • Height: 38 feet 3 inches (11.4 meters)
  • Wingspan: 132 feet 7 inches (39.7 meters)
  • Speed: 374 mph (Mach 0.57, 604.4 km/h) at 20,000 feet
  • Ceiling: 33,000 feet with 100,000 pounds (45,000 kg) payload
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kg)
  • Range: 2,350 miles (2,050 nautical miles, 3,770 km) with maximum payload; 2,500 miles (2,174 nautical miles, 4,000 km) with 25,000 pounds (11,250 kg) cargo; 5,200 miles (4,522 nautical miles, 8,320 km) with no cargo
  • Unit Cost: Average $44.1 million
  • Crew: Five: two pilots, navigator, flight engineer, loadmaster
  • Capacity: Up to 92 troops or 64 paratroops or 74 litter patients or five standard freight pallets or a 136 hectoliter (3600 gallon) stainless steel fuel tank



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HC-130 Hercules

... 2,500 miles (2,174 nautical miles, 4,000 km) with 25,000 pounds (11,250 kg) cargo; 5,200 miles (4,522 nautical miles, 8,320 km) with no cargo Unit Cost: Average $44.1 ...