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Max Q
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The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:21 am

This seems to be one aircraft that’s rarely discussed here

Not the most exotic in Av history but it was in AF service for many years

Curious to know peoples opinions on this machine, particularly those who have worked on or flown it
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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flyingturtle
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:53 am

Max Q wrote:
This seems to be one aircraft that’s rarely discussed here

Not the most exotic in Av history but it was in AF service for many years

Curious to know peoples opinions on this machine, particularly those who have worked on or flown it


The most remarkable thing, IMO, is that this plane was lengthened - because it often hit the max payload in terms of weight, but rarely the maximum in volume.

I wonder how this hasn't been spotted during development...
Reading accident reports is what calms me down
 
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747classic
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:11 am

C-141 History :

The Starlifter (C-141A) was the result of a USAF Specific Operational Requitrement (SOR182), issued in May 1960, for an aircraft capable of carrying a max payload of over 60.000 lbs over 3500 Nm.
At March 13th 1962 the design of Lockheed was declared the winner.
The basic lay-out was the high wing lay out of it's C-130 Hercules, also inhertited from the Hercules were the basic fuselage cross-section and the twin wheel nose undercarriage.
The definitive contract was signed in May 1962
F/F December 17th 1963
First USAF delivery October 1964
Declared operational : April 23th 1965.
Total built : 284 Military and 1 (civil )

The standard C-141A has played a major role in the airlift of personnel, equipment and supplies to, from and wihin Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war.

However, during the US airlift operation during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when C-141A's flew 421 missions , despite the fact that most European staging points were denied to MAC transports, the need was clearly demonstrated for providing these aircraft with air refuelling capacity and an increase in airlift volume. Budgetairy limitations, parcullary stiff in the post-Vietnam era, precluded the acquisition of a new aircraft.
Lockheed and the USAF were able to devise a scheme to fulfil at minimum costs these two requirements.
By inserting a 13 ft 4 inch fuselage plug fwd of the wing and a 10 ft plug aft of the wing, usable volume was by nearly 75% to 11399 cu ft + addition of an air refuelling boom receptacle, the C-141B was created.
The contract was awarded in 1976.
F/F C-141B at March 24th 1977
First production C-141B accepted in December 04 1979.
Last edited by 747classic on Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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hk144
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:16 am

flyingturtle wrote:
Max Q wrote:
This seems to be one aircraft that’s rarely discussed here

Not the most exotic in Av history but it was in AF service for many years

Curious to know peoples opinions on this machine, particularly those who have worked on or flown it


The most remarkable thing, IMO, is that this plane was lengthened - because it often hit the max payload in terms of weight, but rarely the maximum in volume.

I wonder how this hasn't been spotted during development...


I think you mean that the aircraft often maxed out in volume before weight, hence the extension.
 
VSMUT
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:49 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
Max Q wrote:
This seems to be one aircraft that’s rarely discussed here

Not the most exotic in Av history but it was in AF service for many years

Curious to know peoples opinions on this machine, particularly those who have worked on or flown it


The most remarkable thing, IMO, is that this plane was lengthened - because it often hit the max payload in terms of weight, but rarely the maximum in volume.

I wonder how this hasn't been spotted during development...


You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.
 
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flyingturtle
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:49 pm

VSMUT wrote:

You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.


I know they were lengthened after production. But I can't understand why the designers didn't think of cargo volume during the design... as in "aluminum is cheap, air is free..."

The lengthening didn't require an engine upgrade, did it?
Reading accident reports is what calms me down
 
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N328KF
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 1:49 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
Max Q wrote:
This seems to be one aircraft that’s rarely discussed here

Not the most exotic in Av history but it was in AF service for many years

Curious to know peoples opinions on this machine, particularly those who have worked on or flown it


The most remarkable thing, IMO, is that this plane was lengthened - because it often hit the max payload in terms of weight, but rarely the maximum in volume.

I wonder how this hasn't been spotted during development...


The lengthening was done for a use case that didn't exist at design: transporting Minuteman missiles.
“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:04 pm

Lengthening it also added AAR capability. Nickel Grass was a significant driver in the program.
 
VSMUT
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:26 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
VSMUT wrote:

You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.


I know they were lengthened after production. But I can't understand why the designers didn't think of cargo volume during the design... as in "aluminum is cheap, air is free..."

The lengthening didn't require an engine upgrade, did it?


Likely because the payload it was designed for was different from the payload it ended up carrying. One good bet (among many other factors) is that heavy military vehicles grew in size. So while a C-141A was a good platform for hauling heavy vehicles when it entered service, by 1977 the vehicles didn't fit any more, and as a consequence the aircraft didn't match the typical payload of pallets and paratroopers.

Probably also worth pointing out that the C-5 entered service 5 years after the C-141A, which would also explain where the more dense cargo went.
 
Ozair
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:42 pm

flyingturtle wrote:

I know they were lengthened after production. But I can't understand why the designers didn't think of cargo volume during the design... as in "aluminum is cheap, air is free..."

The C-141 was a jet and the sole reason it came into existence was to replace/supplement a turbo prop fleet of transports with jet speed. It had less range and payload than the C-133 but was a hell of a lot faster than the C-124.

VSMUT wrote:
Likely because the payload it was designed for was different from the payload it ended up carrying. One good bet (among many other factors) is that heavy military vehicles grew in size. So while a C-141A was a good platform for hauling heavy vehicles when it entered service, by 1977 the vehicles didn't fit any more, and as a consequence the aircraft didn't match the typical payload of pallets and paratroopers.

The C-141 was never really a heavy vehicle transporter. It was sized for M113 but that was about it. Troops and pallets were its bread and butter role.

Image
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:04 am

N328KF wrote:
The lengthening was done for a use case that didn't exist at design: transporting Minuteman missiles.

That is the first I've heard of that.

The original C-141A was designed from the outset to carry a complete LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its container.
Maybe we are somehow at cross-purposes here?


VSMUT wrote:
You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.
Another example were the RAF Hercules C.3 (IIRC extended by Marshall's of Cambridge)
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
VSMUT
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:55 am

Ozair wrote:
The C-141 was never really a heavy vehicle transporter. It was sized for M113 but that was about it. Troops and pallets were its bread and butter role.


When the C-141 was developed, the US military was flirting with the concept of air mobile warfare. The M50 Ontos, M56 Scorpion and M551 Sheridan, possibly some of the self-propelled guns of the time. Those all fit onto the C-141 and C-130, the Sheridan was designed specifically for it. Airborne forces, including their tanks and APCs, were supposed to be airlifted quickly across the Atlantic on C-141s (among others) in case the Soviet Union ever declared war. The Vietnam war proved how useless those light vehicles were, so they quickly got replaced with more traditional equipment.
 
GDB
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:20 am

SheikhDjibouti wrote:
N328KF wrote:
The lengthening was done for a use case that didn't exist at design: transporting Minuteman missiles.

That is the first I've heard of that.

The original C-141A was designed from the outset to carry a complete LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its container.
Maybe we are somehow at cross-purposes here?


VSMUT wrote:
You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.
Another example were the RAF Hercules C.3 (IIRC extended by Marshall's of Cambridge)


Yes, Lockheed did the first one, the next 29 were done at Marshalls.
 
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747classic
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:40 am

SheikhDjibouti wrote:
N328KF wrote:
The lengthening was done for a use case that didn't exist at design: transporting Minuteman missiles.

That is the first I've heard of that.

The original C-141A was designed from the outset to carry a complete LGM-30 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its container.
Maybe we are somehow at cross-purposes here?


VSMUT wrote:
You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.
Another example were the RAF Hercules C.3 (IIRC extended by Marshall's of Cambridge)


A few C-141A's were completed with strengthened airframes to enable them to carry the Minuteman ICBM.
However the weight of the missile in its special container (86.207 lb) exceeded by more than a third the payload of the standard C-141A (62.717 lbs) and the modified Starlifters were restricted to a manoeuvering load factor of 2.25 g instead of the 2.5 load standard for MAC aircraft.

Length difference between C-141A and C-141B
Image

Original uploaded by William G. Holder, USAF - U.S. Defenseimagery.mil photo no. DF-SC-83-00094
Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
 
Max Q
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:03 am

Iirc one airframe in the overall fleet was not stretched and was retained by NASA operationally for some time after the AF ended their use
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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zanl188
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:43 am

Max Q wrote:
Iirc one airframe in the overall fleet was not stretched and was retained by NASA operationally for some time after the AF ended their use


IIRC there were 4 that never got stretched: 12775, 12776, 12777, and the commercial demonstrator that went to NASA.
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:41 am

747classic wrote:
A few C-141A's were completed with strengthened airframes to enable them to carry the Minuteman ICBM.
However the weight of the missile in its special container (86.207 lb) exceeded by more than a third the payload of the standard C-141A (62.717 lbs) and the modified Starlifters were restricted to a manoeuvering load factor of 2.25 g instead of the 2.5 load standard for MAC aircraft.

Just to state the screamingly obvious; lengthening the fuselage to create the C-141B did nothing to help in this respect.

In fact.. unless Lockheed sprinkled some angel dust on the whole project, the C-141B must have had a higher OEW, and therefore a lower payload max. Could it be that SAC "lost" the ability to transport Minutemans with the extended C-141B? (aside from using C-5s instead). :scratchchin:
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
GDB
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:45 am

VSMUT wrote:
flyingturtle wrote:
Max Q wrote:
This seems to be one aircraft that’s rarely discussed here

Not the most exotic in Av history but it was in AF service for many years

Curious to know peoples opinions on this machine, particularly those who have worked on or flown it


The most remarkable thing, IMO, is that this plane was lengthened - because it often hit the max payload in terms of weight, but rarely the maximum in volume.

I wonder how this hasn't been spotted during development...


You mean they were extended after they had been built ;) Not too many types can boast of that achievement. I know some Tu-204s were shortened.


The BAC 1-11 at the Brooklands Museum was built as a series 400, then being a company demonstrator/prototype was stretched to be a -500. Then back to the original -400 fuselage length for a -475 (-400 fuselage, with -500 wings and engines.
https://www.planespotters.net/airframe/ ... bac/ro1voz
 
aviatorcraig
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:44 pm

Max Q wrote:
Iirc one airframe in the overall fleet was not stretched and was retained by NASA operationally for some time after the AF ended their use


I remember seeing the NASA example at Moffett Field in the early eighties. It operated as an airborne observatory.
According to NASA historical summary, the aircraft operated with them until 1995. Does anyone know of it's eventual fate, i.e. where it was broken up?
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Moose135
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Tue Aug 04, 2020 6:09 pm

aviatorcraig wrote:
I remember seeing the NASA example at Moffett Field in the early eighties. It operated as an airborne observatory.
According to NASA historical summary, the aircraft operated with them until 1995. Does anyone know of it's eventual fate, i.e. where it was broken up?


They tried to sell it about just two years ago, but didn't get any takers:

https://www.avgeekery.com/nasa-put-thei ... bought-it/

Here's a cached look at the GSA auction page:
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/ ... clnk&gl=us

From this screen shot of Google Maps, it looks like it is still at Moffett.

Image
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
Raptormodeller
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:10 pm

Yeah they looked (and still do) really good.
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Max Q
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:45 pm

What’s puzzling to me is the KC135 and its variants entered service in 1957 and is still going strong


The C141’s service entry was eight years later in 1965 yet it was retired much sooner


Why such a relatively short life for the Starlifter ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:52 pm

The 135 flew little (SIOP alert) while the 141 flew a lot. Different missions. It also had loads of corrosion and structural problems. The tanker was also re-engined and had avionics mods which kept it up to date. Once the Buddha came along, it was obsolete, mostly because of its limited cargo box limitations. The last few years it mostly flew medevac missions.
 
Max Q
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:08 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
The 135 flew little (SIOP alert) while the 141 flew a lot. Different missions. It also had loads of corrosion and structural problems. The tanker was also re-engined and had avionics mods which kept it up to date. Once the Buddha came along, it was obsolete, mostly because of its limited cargo box limitations. The last few years it mostly flew medevac missions.



Ok I’ll bite, Buddha ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:20 pm

C-17, short, fat, everybody bows down before it. It was the new, shiny object that promised to solve all mobility problems.
 
Max Q
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:53 pm

Understood now

The C17 seems like a pretty good aircraft but the C141 had quite a bit more range didn’t it ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


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aumaverick
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:34 pm

Max Q wrote:
Understood now

The C17 seems like a pretty good aircraft but the C141 had quite a bit more range didn’t it ?


A bit irrelevant given the AAR capabilities of both. Un-refueled distance was 500 mi +/- in favor of the Starlifter, but with a smaller payload.
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GalaxyFlyer
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:34 pm

Lockheed pushed a deal one “free” C-130 with each new build C-5M, new, not re-engined. At about the same time, a HQ AMC engineer produced a PPT briefing showing a C-5 could haul C-17 loads over C-5 distances or hail twice the load over C-17 distances. Neither were well received—Lockheed was told no more money to store C-5 tooling and the engineer was encouraged to retire.

Back to topic, the windscreen post cracking got serious and lots of C-141s were crossing the ocean at F250. Pretty expensive even for the military. Then, it would have cost $300 million to upgrade the avionics. Retirement was the easy answer. 40 years was pretty time for it.

The -17 was mod’d with a center wing tank that gave it C-141 loads with more dimensional capability over near C-5 ranges. The wing box in the -17 is loading problem for tall loads-helicopters especially but the fuel is good.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:23 pm

Max Q wrote:
What’s puzzling to me is the KC135 and its variants entered service in 1957 and is still going strong

The C141’s service entry was eight years later in 1965 yet it was retired much sooner
Why such a relatively short life for the Starlifter ?

Notwithstanding GFs most excellent responses... you should be comparing the C-141 against other transport aircraft of that era (Boeing 707s and DC-8s). Where are they now? :scratchchin:

Meanwhile the KC-135 is still going strong thanks in no small part to the CFM-56 re-engine programme, and the complexities of out-fitting a newer design with re-fuelling capabilities (cough, KC-46, cough).
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
texl1649
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:59 pm

The C model with “glass” cockpits served until the bitter end in 2004. They were good planes, but largely exhausted after Desert Storm/Iraqi Freedom etc.

http://www.amarcexperience.com/ui/index ... Itemid=101

None of them remain even at AMARG.
 
checksixx
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:47 pm

The ride inside the starlifter was crap. You'd freeze at altitude and bake when you landed (in hot areas). Hated it...thank God their gone.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:05 pm

checksixx wrote:
The ride inside the starlifter was crap. You'd freeze at altitude and bake when you landed (in hot areas). Hated it...thank God their gone.


Sometimes you could freeze and bake at the same time—frozen milk on the floor and sweating at your head.
 
bhill
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 10, 2020 7:18 pm

checksixx wrote:
The ride inside the starlifter was crap. You'd freeze at altitude and bake when you landed (in hot areas). Hated it...thank God their gone.


Damn straight...I STILL remember the 2 rides from Ft. Benning to Ft. Irwin back in the day.."digital HVAC" either frozen clouds coming out of the roof ductwork...or waves of heat. Field jacket on...field jacket off. And of course leaving from Benning they just HAD to bring along some troopers that needed some entries in their jump books for the pay. As soon at the blast door came out....so did the barf bags.....
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Nomadd
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Re: The C141 Starlifter

Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:37 pm

The last 141 I was on at McCord aborted takeoff three times for three different reasons. We finally got off when an engine started burning. I was fortunate enough to be a driver most of the times I flew, so I'd just get out of those interrogation devices they called seats and sit in the Jeep.

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