One morning in 1974, I was board and was looking through a file cabinet of old safety/ accident reports. There was a roll of 16mm film labeled C-121J, Atsugi, Wheels Up.
Put it on the projector - saw a C-121J carrying the TE designation - VW-1. That was the Navy weather squadron/ typhoon hunters for the Western Pacific based on Guam, which had been consolidated in 1971 into VQ-1 when USAF took over the typhoon hunter missing.
The film showed three passes over/ close to the camera which was close to the control tower. The main gear was down and locked. The nose gear was at 45 degrees. The next two passes the plane came in nose high and hit the runway HARD with the main gear. The nose gear gear did not move. On the C-121J/ Super Constellation - the nose gear is long and the cockpit high in the air. I was sure the landing was going to be a horrible mess if the nose gear would not retract.
The next pass shown on the film the plane came in low and slow with the main gear extended. The film camera was now tower high so the view was good..
The mains were set down in the Rwy 01 numbers, nose held high. A JMSDF fire truck was quickly on the runway following the plane. USN fire trucks followed as the plane crossed the next intersection. Soon a great number of ambulances were following the aircraft and on parallel ramps.
The pilots kept the nose high. As the plane got even with the tower, the nose lifted higher and the Connie triple tail contacted the runway. The plane rolled to near the end of the runway.
The final shot sequence was people rushing up and throwing ropes over the rear of the fuselage and tying them to heavy GSE gear. Some mattresses were placed and other ropes tightened. As the camera zoomed out, there was a large truck covered with mattresses driven nose first under the fuselage to hold the weight. It was about even with the leading edge of the wings.
From the back of the aircraft, the door was opened, and passengers were being helped out. It was obvious that the pax were dependent wives dressed in their finery headed for an overnight R&R shopping trip to Japan from Guam. The film ended.
A couple days later I talked to one of the squadron senior C-121 flight engineers. He told me that he was working on a VQ-1 Connie that day. Was called to the tower and they worked through all troubleshooting in the book for getting the nose gear to either extend or retract. Some proposed a tail-dragger landing. NATOPS was extremely pessimistic about survival chances in a landing of the Connie with the nose gear frozen into position. With the mains extended the fuselage would almost certainly break forward of the main wing spar when weight caused the nose gear to fail, or more likely tip to one side. A no main gear landing was also likely to fracture the fuselage if the nose gear did not break quickly.
There were something like 90 dependents on the aircraft, about 1/3 under age 12. The 'best chance' was to strap all the small kids in tight in the most forward seats. The adults stood as far forward in the main cabin as possible, a few feet in front of the main spar.
As the aircraft slowed to a point below 100 knots, the first group of twelve dependents walked to the very rear of the cabin. Then the next group. The more matronly ladies first. The Connie can be very delicate about balance on the ground in low fuel, empty load conditions. When the weight started to rotate the fuselage aft. The crew told the ladies to freeze. One military crew member moved back until contact was made with the ground. Then approx. 400 lbs of weight was moved aft.
There was absolutely ZERO braking applied. The aircraft neared the north overrun and stopped.
Two days later the JMSDF facility at Atsugi had the skin damage and the lower portions of the outside vertical stabilizers repaired. At the time I was in the squadron about ten years after the Gooney Bird Connie landing PR-00/ B/N 131654 was still flying.
Also the current version of NATOPS (1974) noted under procedures for a no-nose gear landing, that one successful emergency landing had been made in a C-121J by rotating the aircraft aft until the rear empennage contacted the runway. It was noted that the successful landing was attributed to a 'highly mobile cargo' that was able to carefully shift the COG aft in a dynamic activity.
Not all who wander are lost.