Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II
C-124 Globemaster II
Role Heavy-lift military transport aircraft
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 27 November 1949
Introduction 1950
Retired 1974 (USAF)
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Air National Guard
United States Air Force Reserve
Produced 1949-1955
Number built 448 (9 surviving)
Developed from C-74 Globemaster
Developed into Douglas C-132 (Unbuilt)

The Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, nicknamed "Old Shakey", was a heavy-lift cargo aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California.

The C-124 was the primary heavy-lift transport for United States Air Force Military Air Transport Service (MATS) during the 1950s and early 1960s until the C-141 Starlifter entered service. It served in MATS, later Military Airlift Command (MAC), gained units of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard until 1974.


Design and development

The C-124 was developed from 1947 to 1949 by Douglas Aircraft from a prototype created from World War II-design Douglas C-74 Globemaster and based on lessons learned in the Berlin Airlift. The aircraft was powered by four large Pratt & Whitney R-4360 piston engines producing 3,800 hp (2,800 kW) each. The C-124's design featured two large clamshell doors and a hydraulically-actuated ramp in the nose as well as a cargo elevator under the aft fuselage. The C-124 was capable of carrying 68,500 lb (31,100 kg) of cargo, and the 77 ft (23 m) cargo bay featured two overhead hoists, each capable of lifting 8,000 lb (3,600 kg). As a cargo hauler, it could carry tanks, guns, trucks and other heavy equipment, while in its passenger-carrying role it could carry 200 fully equipped troops on its double decks or 127 litter patients and their attendants. It was the only aircraft of its time capable of transporting heavy equipment such as tanks and bulldozers without disassembly.

The C-124 first flew on 27 November 1949, with the C-124A being delivered from May 1950.[1] The C-124C was next, featuring more powerful engines, and an APS-42 weather radar fitted in a "thimble"-like structure on the nose. Wingtip-mounted combustion heaters were added to heat the cabin, and enable wing and tail surface deicing. The C-124As were later equipped with these improvements.

One C-124C, 52-1069, c/n 43978, was used as a JC-124C [2], for testing the 15,000 shp (11,000 kW) Pratt & Whitney XT57 (PT5) turboprop, which was installed in the nose.[3][4]

Operational history

An early C-124A during the Korean War.

First deliveries of the 448 production aircraft began in May 1950 and continued until 1955. The C-124 was operational during the Korean War, and was also used to assist supply operations for Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. They performed heavy lift cargo operations for the US military worldwide, including flights to Southeast Asia, Africa and elsewhere. From 1959 to 1961 they transported Thor missiles across the Atlantic to England. The C-124 was also used extensively during the Vietnam War transporting materiel from the U.S. to Vietnam. Until the C-5A became operational, the C-124, and its sister C-133 were the only aircraft available that could transport very large loads.

The United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) was the initial operator of the C-124 Globemaster, with 50 in service from 1950 through 1962. Four squadrons operated the type, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Strategic Support Squadrons. Their primary duty was to transport nuclear weapons between air bases and to provide airlift of personnel and equipment during exercises and overseas deployments.

The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) was the primary operator until January 1966, when the organization was retitled Military Airlift Command (MAC). Within a few years following the formation of MAC, the last remaining examples were transferred to the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) and the Air National Guard (ANG), said transfers being complete by 1970. The first ANG unit to receive the C-124C, the 165th Tactical Airlift Group (now known as the 165th Airlift Wing) of the Georgia Air National Guard was the last Air Force unit to retire their aircraft (AF Serial No. 52-1066 and 53-0044) in September 1974.[5]


The experimental YC-124B-DL powered by four Pratt & Whitney YT-34-P-6 turboprops.
Prototype re-built from a C-74 with a new fuselage and powered by four 3,500 hp R-4360-39 engines, it was later re-engined and re-designated YC-124A.
Prototype YC-124 re-engined with four 3,800 hp R-4360-35A engines.
Douglas Model 1129A, production version with four 3,500 hp R-4360-20WA engines; 204-built, most retrofitted later with nose-radar and combustion heaters in wingtip fairings.
Douglas Model 1182E was a turboprop variant of the C-124A with four Pratt & Whitney YT34-P-6 turboprops, originally proposed as a tanker it was used for trials on the operation of turboprop aircraft.
Douglas Model 1317, same as C-124A but with four 3,800 hp R-4360-63A engines, nose radar, wingtip combustion heaters and increased fuel capacity; 243 built.


 United States






Accidents and incidents

  • 20 December 1952: A C-124 flying out of Moses Lake Washington (Larson AFB) and taking Airmen home to Texas for the holidays as part of "Operation Sleigh Ride" crashed not long after takeoff. A total of 87 airmen were killed.[6]
  • 18 June 1953: A C-124 took off from Tachikawa Air Base in Japan. Shortly after takeoff, one of the engines failed, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. Due to a loss of airspeed, the pilot lost control and crashed into a rice field, killing all seven crew and 122 passengers. It is the worst accident involving a C-124. [7]
  • 4 September 1957, C-124A 51-5173 enroute from Larson AFB, Washington crashed while attempting a landing at Binghamton Airport, Binghamton, New York. The C-124A was delivering 20 tons of equipment for Link Aviation. The crew of nine survived.[8][9]
  • 2 January 1964: 52-0968, a C-124C flying from Wake Island Airfield to Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu disappeared over the ocean, 1,200 km west of Hawaii. Eight crew and one passenger were lost in the accident.[10]
  • 28 July 1968: a United States Air Force Douglas C-124C Globemaster II registration 51-5178 flying from Paramaribo-Zanderij to Recife, while on approach to land at Recife, flew into a 1,890 ft high hill, 50 miles (80 km) away from Recife. The 10 occupants died.[11]


C-124C 52-1000 making its last landing at Travis Air Force Base, 10 June 1984.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 49-0258) is currently being restored at the Air Mobility Command Museum located at Dover Air Force Base near Dover, Delaware. This is the oldest surviving C-124. In July 2005, museum volunteers reattached the aircraft's wings and clamshell doors.
  • C-124C (AF Ser. No. 51-0089) is on display at the Museum of Aviation located at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 52-0943) is on display at the Seoul Military Academy Museum at Sacheon Air Force Base in Seoul, South Korea.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 52-0994) is on display at the McChord Air Museum located at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington. This aircraft was formerly under civilian registration N86599 and located for many years at the Detroit Institute of Aeronautics. On 9 October 1986 the aircraft was flown non-stop from Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit, Michigan to McChord Air Force Base. While flying over Washington State the aircraft was joined by a Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Lockheed C-141 Starlifter of McChord's elite 62nd Military Airlift Wing. This is the last recorded flight of a C-124. The museum has been subject to restricted access since 11 September 2001.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 52-1000) is on display at the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum, at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California. The museum was given the C-124 in August 1982. The aircraft had been stored for many years outside at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland where it was used as a storage shed. Transporting the aircraft by ground to California would have been prohibitively expensive so the decision was made to fly the aircraft to the museum. Volunteers joined with members of the Air National Guard's 116th Tactical Fighter Wing from Dobbins Air Force Base to restore the C-124 to an airworthy and ferryable condition. The aircraft was then ferried from Aberdeen to Dobbins AFB in Georgia where members of the 116th TFW completed the aircraft's restoration. The aircraft was then flown cross country to Norton Air Force Base in California. After a photo session over the Golden Gate Bridge the C-124 arrived at the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum at exactly 1400 on 10 June 1984. This was the first recorded flight of a C-124 in nearly a decade.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 52-1004) is displayed at the Pima Air and Space Museum adjacent to Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 52-1066) is located at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. This aircraft is stored indoors with the clamshell doors open, allowing visitors to go inside. This was one of the last two Air National Guard C-124s to be retired in 1974. The aircraft is displayed as AF Ser. No. 51-0135.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 52-1072) is on display at the Charleston Air Force Base airpark located in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 53-0044), one of the last two Air National Guard C-124s to be retired in 1974, was located for many years on the corner of Koval Lane and Reno Avenue near McCarran International Airport in Paradise, Nevada. Numerous plans were made to use the aircraft for advertising, display, and even as a restaurant, but nothing came of this and over the years the aircraft's condition deteriorated.
  • C-124 (AF Ser. No. 53-0050) has undergone restoration at the Hill Aerospace Museum located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The aircraft was rescued from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland in 1992 where it was planned to be used for ballistics testing.

Specifications (C-124 Globemaster II)

Cockpit of C-124 on display at the McChord Air Museum, McChord AFB, WA.
Flight engineer's station of a C-124.
C-124A cargo deck.

General characteristics


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ "C-124C." McCord Air Museum. Retrieved: 28 June 2011.
  2. ^ Baugher Joe. "USAF serials 1952." American Military Aircraft. Retrieved: 3 October 2011.
  3. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 470.
  4. ^ Connors 2010, p. 294.
  5. ^ "Douglas C-124 Globemaster II Fact Sheet." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 23 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Accident description 50-0100." Aviation Safety Network, 24 March 2008. Retrieved: 3 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Accident description 51-0137."Aviation Safety Network, 24 March 2008. Retrieved: 3 October 2011.
  8. ^ Handte, Jerry. "Co-Pilot Tells How Plane Crashed." Binghamton Press, 5 September 1957, p. 1.
  9. ^ "Accident description 51-5173." Aviation Safety Network, 21 October 2006. Retrieved: 3 October 2011.
  10. ^ Ranter, Harro and Fabian I. Lujan. "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-124C Globemaster II 52-0968 Hawaii." Aviation Safety Network, 2009. Retrieved: 28 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Accident description 51-5178." Aviation Safety Network, 2009. Retrieved: 20 May 2011.

External links

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