Fairchild C-119 “Flying Boxcar”

C119 Boxcar
C119 Hatch
PRODUCTION

The Fairchild C119 Flying Boxcar was produced at the Fairchild aircraft plant in Hagerstown, MD.  Some C119s were built by the Kaiser-Frazer Corp. in Willow Run, MI starting in 1951.  The aircraft was in production from 1949-1955.   1,112 C119s were built by Fairchild, and 71 by Kaiser.

45 aircraft were built for the RCAF.  Our airplane was originally built for the USAF but delivery was not taken.  It was instead immediately transferred to the Canadians in 1952. Each C119 cost approximately $259, 171.

Our C119 came off of the production line as an F model.  It was upgraded to a G model by the Canadians in 1957.  The G is an F but with different propellers.  The -F had Hamilton Standard props, the G had Aeroproducts.  (see more in the Prop section)

The USAF modified their -G model aircraft for use as gunships during the Vietnam War.  The gunship is a side firing aircraft that would

fly a “pylon turn” around a target thereby keeping the target in sight and under fire at all times.  All of the armament was mounted on the port side of the aircraft.

The Boxcar did not have a great reputation for reliability. It was known to suffer from landing gear failures, propeller stress cracking, engine mount failures, propeller assembly oil leaks, poor single engine performance, and tail boom failure. The C119 was described as “thousands of rivets flying in loose formation.”

USE

The USN operated R4Qs as air logistical support to the fleet and other Naval units in the European and Mediterranean areas.

The RCAF used C119s from 1952 to 1967 for transport operations, air resupply, paratroop ops, and medical evacuation.  The aircraft were also used in the Arctic regions for the resupply of military bases, weather stations, and radar sites, and it was used to support survey and scientific expeditions.

Our airplane was a part of the UN peacekeeping force in effect during the 1956 Israel and Egypt hostilities.  The RCAF provided 16 C119s and their crews.

The USMC used the C119 for heavy lift transport.  The USAF used the airplane in many capacities already mentioned.  It was also used for aerial recovery of high altitude balloon borne instrument scientific packages.  It was further used for the aerial recovery of film cannister space capsules during the Corona spy satellite program.

The last C119 was phased out of the US military in 1975 while flying with the Air National Guard.

The Flying Boxcar also played a significant role in the Korean War.  In particular, it was instrumental in the successful evacuation of US troops during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.  C119 aerial resupply was normally done at a speed of 115 knots (normal cruise speed is 165) and at an altitude of 600-800ft above the ground into a 500ft drop zone.  Air resupply was critical in Korea due to inadequate roads, poor weather, and rough terrain.

A C119 crew could empty an airplane in 3.5 seconds using extraction parachutes.  Most Korean drop zones required in trail formations.  A 9 plane in trail formation could drop 50 tons in 3.5 minutes.

ODDS & ENDS

The FAA shows our aircraft was originally built as an -F model. The nose on our plane was originally a small standard production nose.  When radar was installed sometime between August 1956 and August 1957 it was retrofitted with the big nose it now has.  The radar was the AN/APS42 search radar used for navigation, weather avoidance, and aircraft identification.

Emergency egress is through the cockpit floor hatch.  The external door is slaved to the floor hatch – opening the floor hatch opens the external door causing it fall away from the aircraft.

Our C119 was delivered to us in June to the museum in 1992.  The original acquisition agreement with the US Forest Service Fire and Aviation called for a flyable airplane.  The aircraft was flown in but then stripped of all airworthy equipment.  The Boxcar crew has taken this unflyable airplane and is turning it into something historic and beautiful.

SPECS

Electrical: 28v DC system with a 24v battery and 2 28v DC engine driven generators.  DC power is converted to 115v AC thru inverters.  A 28v auxiliary power unit driven by an internal combustion motor is used to activate the electrical system when the engines are not running.

Fuel:

2 inboard wing fuel tanks  just outside of the fuselage – 426 gal each

2 outboard wing fuel tanks just outside of the engines – 833 gal each

2 aux tanks in the cabin (when installed) – 504 gal each

Typical fuel burn – 241 gal/hour/engine

Propellers

Hamilton- Standard or Aeroproducts props were used.  Our aircraft had Aeroproduct props : full feathering, constant speed, and reversible.

Our props are square tipped.  This allows for greater structural strength and a broader blade than rounded props.  Round tip props cause greater drag at high tip speeds.  Aeroproducts props were prone to uncommanded changes to fine pitch resulting in engine overspeed leading to possible engine failure or blade failure.

CREW & PERSONNEL

5 seats in the cockpit : 2 pilots, 1 navigator, 1 radio operator, and a flight technician in the folding jump seat.  In the cabin, a troop capacity of 42 (or 62 if center row seats installed) or 35 litters.

ENGINES

The Pratt and Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major.  28 cylinder radial, supercharged, 3,500 HP each.

The Wright R-3350 was used on Kaiser built airplanes. 18 cylinder radial, water injection, 2200-3500 HP depending on the model of 4360 used.

Oil tank capacity each engine: 60 gal.

CARGO/WEIGHTS/PERFORMANCE

Cargo compartment – 353 sq ft of floor space, 3,150 cu ft of volume

30,000 lb payload (payload amounts vary from one model C119 to another.)

The C119-F had a max takeoff weight of 72,000 lbs.  The -G had a max takeoff of 68,300 lbs.

Comparison

C47                                                                               C119

18,200 empty weight                                           39,000 empty weight

10,000 lb payload                                                 30,000 lb payload

150 cruise speed                                                   162 cruise speed

24,000 ft ceiling                                                     21,600 ft ceiling

1,600 mile range                                                     1,700 mile range