The C-141 Starlifter is manufactured by Lockheed-Georgia Co. (now Lockheed Martin) and entered service for the United States Air Force in 1964 though it didn’t actually begin operations until 1965. In 1979, the U.S. Army took delivery of its first C-141. The aircraft has been primarily used for long range troop and equipment transportation and for evacuating wounded personnel from combat areas to safe zones that have medical care. The Starlifter’s 93′ long cargo bay can accommodate 168 paratroopers or 208 ground troopers. It has served in many areas including South America, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. In 1973, the C-141 evacuated more than 500 American military men held prisoner by the North Vietnamese. The Starlifter has also been used in numerous civilian relief missions both in the United States and around the world.
There were three main variations of the C-141: A, B, and C. The C-141A was manufactured from 1963 through 1967 and served primarily as a cargo and troop transport. The C-141B’s main difference from the A-model was its additional length of 23′ 4″. This added length increased its cargo capacity by one-third and enabled it to carry enough weight to meet its maximum cargo load, which greatly increased its efficiency. It also provided additional room to carry more troops, paratroopers, and wounded personnel. Some of the C-141B Starlifter aircraft were fitted with night flying navigational equipment and enhanced defensive systems. These modified C-141B aircraft were specially designed for use by the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. The C-141C Starlifter version boasted a suite of advanced avionics, including a glass cockpit.
Beginning with the ‘B’ version of the C-141, modifications enabled it to completely refuel from an air tanker in less than 30 minutes, giving it a virtually unlimited operating range. The aircraft is still used today by American military forces in support of emergency medical evacuations and airlift operations.
Speed: 500 mph
Range: 2,935 miles
Length: 168′, 4″
Wingspan: 160 feet
Height: 39′, 3″
Maximum weight: 323,100 lbs
Empty weight: 144,492 lb
Engine(s): Four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofan engines
Rate of climb: 2,600′ per minute
Crew: 5or 6