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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Fairchild Model 110 Flying Boxcar (C-119)

C-119G N5216R photographed at Battle Mountain, NV, in October 2017. The aircraft is painted as N5215R and wears the jetpod from N3559, now on display at Dover AFB. The aircaft was dismantled in 2019 and transported to California as part of the Rolling Boxcar project.

The C-119 developed from the C-82 Packet, the first purpose-designed cargo transport to enter service with the United States military. Originally designated XC-82B, the C-119 used the same basic configuration as the earlier aircraft, but featured a repositioned cockpit and wider cabin and more powerful engines. This allowed the C-119 to carry bigger, heavier loads than its predecessor.

The United States Air Force ordered a large number of C-119s, and in 1950, against the backdrop of the start of the Korean War, placed a second-source production contract for 200 aircraft with the Kaiser-Frazer Automotive company. This was in part politically-motivated, designed to ensure Kaiser-Frazer’s Detroit factory, originally built by Ford to produce B-24 Liberators, continued to be available for aircraft production. A year later, funding issues led the Air Force to change plans, switching manufacture of the first 41 of the second-source production contract to Fairchild, although final assembly of the aircraft was still carried out by Kaiser-Frazer. The C-119 saw extensive service in both the Korean and Vietnam wars and remained in United States military service well into the 1970s. It became a staple of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, with examples being supplied to Belgium, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Italy, South Vietnam and Taiwan. The C-119 also notched up one commercial sale, to Canada.

The final military operator of the Flying Boxcar was Taiwan, which retired its last C-119s in December 1998. The type saw limited civilian use, mainly on Forestry Service and Bureau of Land Management contracts in the United States. The last active C-119 was N15501, a former Royal Canadian Air Force C-119G, but this is now up for sale with the rest of Hans Lauridsen’s collection.

First flight: Nov 47 (c/n 10139, 45-57769)

Production: 1,189 comprising 1,030 at Hagerstown, MD, and 159 by Kaiser-Frazer at Ypsilanti-Willow Run, MI. (Kaiser-Frazer-built aircraft have three-digit construction numbers.)

First delivery: Dec 49, to the US Air Force

Last delivery: Nov 55, to the US Air Force

Variants: XC-82B/XC-119A - prototype, converted on the production line from a C-82A and powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney R-4360-4 Wasp Major radials (1 built, subsequently modified as an electronics test-bed under the deisgnation EC-119A);

C-119B - initial production version with strengthened airframe and wider fuselage, powered by R-4360-20s (55 built);

C-119C - C-119B with detail changes to tail-fins (303 built);

C-119F - C-119C, powered by Wright R-3350-85 Cyclones (248 built, including 71 by Kaiser-Frazer);

C-119G - C-119F with detail changes (484 built);

YC-119H Skyvan - C-119C with redesigned wing, underwing fuel tanks and revised tail (1 built)

R4Q-1 - C-119C optimised for US Marine Corps (39 built);

R4Q-2 - C-119F optimised for US Marine Corps (58 built).

Conversions included: AC-119G Shadow - gunship development of C-119G featuring 4 7.62mm guns and armour protection (26 converted);

C-119J - development of C-119F/G with modified rear fuselage and flight-openable door for paratroop delivery (62 converted);

C-119K - C-119G with uprated Cyclones and addition of 2 General Electric J85 turbojets (6 converted);

AC-119K Stinger - gunship development of C-119K (26 converted from C-119G);

C-119L - C-119G re-engined with R-3350-89 engines (22 converted);

XC-120 Packplane - C-119B modified with detachable cargo pod (1 converted).

In addition, many earlier versions were brought up to C-119G standard.

Fairchild C-119 survivors
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