Lockheed's L-100 freighters are the civil equivalents of the venerable military C-130 Hercules, and have proven to be of great utility, particularly in undeveloped countries.
Lockheed initiated design of the Hercules in response to a 1951 US Air Force requirement for a turboprop powered freighter. This resulted in the C-130 Hercules, which first flew in prototype form on August 23 1954. Design features included the high mounted wing, four Allison 501/T56 turboprops and the rear loading freight ramp. The USAF ordered the C-130 into series production in September 1952, and since that time more than 2500 have been built.
The C-130's appeal to freight operators led Lockheed to develop a civil version. The first commercial versions were based on the C-130E model, and a demilitarised demonstrator first flew in April 1964. This initial civil development, the L-100 (L-382), was awarded civil certification in February 1965. This model was soon followed up by the series L-100 (L-382B), which introduced an improved freight handling system.
Sales of these initial versions were slow, leading Lockheed to develop the 2.54m (8ft 4in) stretched L-100-20 (L-382E), which offered better freight capacity and operating economics. The L-100-20 was certificated in October 1968, but was soon followed by the even longer L-100-30 (L-382G). The -30 was 2.03m (6ft 8in) longer than the -20, first flew in August 1970, and was delivered from December that year. Most civil Hercules sales have been of the L-100-30 variant. Although basically a civil aircraft, several L-100s are in service with military operators, e.g. in Algeria, Gabon and Kuwait. The last L-100 was built in 1992, while the last military Allison 501/T56 powered C-130 was delivered in 1996.
The L-100J would be a commercial derivative of the new generation C-130J Hercules II. Improvements would include new 3425kW (4591shp) Rolls-Royce (Allison) AE-2100D3 advanced turboprop engines driving six blade props, two crew EFIS flightdeck and significantly lower maintenance and operating costs. The C-130J first flew on April 5 1996, while US FAA civil certification was awarded in September 1998. The L-100J would be based on the stretched fuselage C-130J-30, but in 2000 the program was frozen as Lockheed martin focussed on the military variants.
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