23 August 1954

The first prototype Lockheed YC-130 Hercules takes of fromm the Lockheed Air terminal, Burbank, California, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)
The first prototype Lockheed YC-130 Hercules, 53-3397, takes of from the Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

23 August 1954: The first of two Lockheed YC-130 Hercules four-engine transport prototypes, 53-3397, made its first flight from the Lockheed Air Terminal at Burbank, California, to Edwards Air Force Base. The flight crew consisted of test pilots Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer, with Jack G. Real (a future Lockheed vice president) and Dick Stanton as flight engineers. From a standing start, the YC-130 was airborne in 855 feet (261 meters), The flight lasted 1 hour, 1 minute.

The C-130 was designed as a basic tactical transport, capable of carrying 72 soldiers or 64 paratroopers. All production aircraft have been built at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, plant.

Lockheed YC-130 53-3397 during its first flight, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

The first production model, the C-130A Hercules, was 97.8 feet (29.81 meters) long with a wingspan of 132.6 feet (40.42 meters), and height of 38.1 feet (11.61 meters). Total wing area was 1,745.5 square feet (162.16 square meters). The transport’s empty weight was 59,164 pounds (26,836 kilograms) and takeoff weight, 122,245 pounds (55,449 kilograms).

The C 130 has a rear loading ramp for vehicles, and there is a large cargo door on the left side of the fuselage, forward of the wing, The transport’s cargo compartment volume is 3,708 cubic feet (105.0 cubic meters). It could carry 35,000 pounds (15,876 kilograms) of cargo.

Lockheed YC-130 53-3397 during its first flight, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

The C-130A was equipped with four Allison T56-A-1A turboshaft engines, driving three-bladed propellers. The engines produced 3,094 shaft horsepower at 13,820 r.p.m. (continuous), and 3,460 horsepower, Military Power (30-minute limit) or Takeoff ( 5-minute limit).

The C-130A had a cruise speed of 286 knots (329 miles per hour/530 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 326 knots (375 miles per hour/604 kilometers per hour) at 24,200 feet (7,376 meters). Its range with a 35,000 pound ( kilogram) payload was 1,835 nautical miles (2,112 statute miles/3,398 kilometers). The initial rate of climb at Sea Level was 4,320 feet per minute (21.95 meters per second). The combat ceiling was 38,700 feet (11,796 meters).

Lockheed YC-130 Hercules prototype, 53-3397. (SDA&SM)
Lockheed C-130A-LM Hercules 55-031, circa 1957. The radome has been added and the tip of the vertical fin squared off. (U.S. Air Force)

In addition to its basic role as a transport, the C-130 has also been used as an aerial tanker, a command-and-control aircraft, weather reconnaissance, search and rescue and tactical gunship. It has even been used as a bomber, carrying huge “Daisy Cutters” to clear large areas of jungle for use as helicopter landing zones, or, more recently, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast “mother of all bombs.” The aircraft has been so versatile that it has served in every type of mission. Over 40 variants have been built by Lockheed, including civilian transports. It is in service worldwide.

The latest version is the Lockheed C-130J Hercules. After 64 years, the C-130 is still in production, longer than any other aircraft type.

YC-130 53-3397 was scrapped at Indianapolis in 1962.

Lockheed C-130J Hercules transports under construction at Lockheed's Marietta, Georgia plant. (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed C-130J Hercules transports under construction at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia plant. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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10 thoughts on “23 August 1954

  1. Wonderful airplane !!! Flew it as a Loadmaster from April 1966 to November 1969. 2200 hours in it. Vietnam and everywhere else in the world. Worked at Delta Airlines with the L100 the civilian version of the C130 after the Air Force. Could not have made my life any happier.
    Roger

  2. Great airplane and have been a passenger in it since the 50s and around the world. Only regret is that I was never able to jump from it. It was really a safe aircraft and always got us where we were going. Air America flew some great missions in it. I liked their movable country insignias as they would go from country to country. It was always a neat operations when the Air America’s C-130 landed at Long Tieng, Laos (Gen VP base sometimes referred as the CIA Secret Operating Base or LS-20A) and he made the turn at the end of the runway with supplies being pushed out on rails of the back end of the aircraft and as soon as the turn was made he made an immediate take off just in the case the enemy had rockets that they would send in. It was the neatest operations I had seen of the C-130

  3. Loved the C-130, as an AIR CARGO specialist in Taiwan and Vietnam, loaded MANY of these! From A model to E, best aircraft EVER, can always tell when one is flying above, very distinctive sound!! John,USAF- 1967-1970

  4. Spent 5 years in the C-130. 1968-1972, the last three in the AC-130A, Ubon Thailand all of 1970. Made the move from Rickenbacker to Hurlbert in ’71,

  5. Flew 17 models of the C-130 by virtue of being assigned as a depot acceptance pilot and pilot in the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patt. Flew the first C-130A on one of those post-depot acceptance flights. Tested two piece tires for the C-130 at WP. Tires were a big problem in SEA. We had a carcass and a tread. If the tread was damaged, you could deflate the carcass and pull off the old tread, put on a new one and re-inflate the tire and be on your way. Proved the concept but without high usage rates the tires would be too expensive. Also, did some of the early testing to use engine bleed air to provide breathable oxygen. The concept was refined and built into later new aircraft. It also laid the ground work for these walk around oxygen generators you see in public today.

    1. Flew all versions beginning with the “A” at Ardmore AFB, and the A was my favorite. It flew better, had the best power to weight ratio, went higher, went into much shorter fields, but was by far the loudest and “dirtiest” to fly in. We had to quit flying the “Four Horsemen” demonstrations when our squadron (774th) got the “B” models as the change in hydraulic pressure for the ailerons, as well as the change to Hamilton Standard props changed the handling characteristics quite a bit. The “kitchen” and bunks were nice however! The DC-130 drone launcher had a great rate of climb when you fired up the drones and they also provided extra help when you had to shut down one (or two) of the props. Wonderful bird!

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