Photo © Andrew Hunt - AirTeamImages
Photo © Chris Waser
looking at the two above pictures led me to a series of questions. mostly, they revolve around crew access to the airplane. now, the KC-135 has a modified panel from which a ladder drops to allow the crew to climb aboard the airplane. was this a design feature that was included on all new-production airplanes from boeing? were any of the -135 airframes purchsed new from boeing or were they all former airliners? i noticed that the L1 door appears to have been removed )or not installed) on the airframe. why is that? is the lower panel there because there was never supposed to be an L1 door? is the KC-135 the only model that has this option or does it include all the -135 models such as the EC and RC? what about the KC-135E which is painted in the blue and white colors. i don't see a L1 door or main deck cargo door on it. the area in which the ladder is installed, does it not interfere with avionics at all? were there any structual issues with installing crew ladder there? how does it affect the pressurization of the a/c?
now, on to the KC-10. in the picture i linked to, you can obviously see there is a L1 door on the airplane in addition to a main deck cargo door. why did the USAF decide to keep the L1 door in place on the -10 and add a drop down ladder to that door instead of makng a different location for crew access? at the rhode island airshow last year i got the chance to walk around and under a KC-10. i noticed each time that i saw one there was always a portable GSE stair attached to it instead of the crew ladder. since the ladder is made up of 4 or so sections i can understand that it's not the most stable ladder in the world, and can appreciate the ease delivered by ground stairs. were the -10 airframes new builds form mcdonnell douglas or were they purchased secondhand?
now, i also though about deployment. if the airplanes were to deploy from home base into the operating theater, who would go first? a -135 doesn't need huge access stairs to get into the airplane because it sits lower to the ground but also has it's own ladder. when flying out portable stairs into the theater i can imagine them being a hassle to move because of thier diemsions. a ground power and ground air cart are easier to move because of thier respective dimensions as well. would a -10 be held up on deployment because it required stairs that were unique to itself until they were made available in the theater?
i know i'm asking a lot, but i love the design of the KC-135, especially the R model. i like the unique attributes it has unto itself because of how it was built. if anyone can help me out, i'm all ears. and if you know any other interesting info about the airplane i'd love to hear that too.