NC-130B “Hercules”

News, Plane of the Week May 23, 2017

Lockheed NC-130B “Hercules”
S/N 57-0526

Crew:   Five
Engines:   Four Allison T56-A-7 turboprops; 4,050 hp each
Wingspan:   132 ft 7 in
Length:   97 ft 9 in
Height:   38 ft 3 in
Weight:   empty: 72,892 lbs; gross: 135,000 lbs; max: 175,000 lbs
Speed:   cruise: 328 mph; max: 384 mph
Range:   2,090 miles
Service Ceiling:   41,300 ft
Armament:   None
Cost:   $22,900,000 (approximate)

The NC-130B was the second B model Hercules produced by Lockheed Corporation. The aircraft was delivered to the United States Air Force as a JC-130B in February 1959 then it was assigned to the 6515th Organizational Maintenance Squadron for flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base in November 1960. During service with the 6515th, the aircraft was used for jet-assisted take -off (JATO) testing. The aircraft was then transferred over to he 6593rd Test Squadron’s Operation Location No. 1 at Edwards AFB.

The aircraft spent seven years supporting the top secret Corona Program, and the “J” status and prefix were removed from the aircraft in October 1967. In May 1973 the aircraft was transferred to the 6593rd Test Squadron of the 6594th Test Group at Hickam Air Force Base. The aircraft was modified to preform mid-air retrieval of satellites and other objects as they floated back to Earth beneath parachutes under the “Falling Star” project and others. The NC-130B was used around the world to recover high altitude air samples.

Hill Air Force Base acquired the aircraft in January 1987 where it was assigned to the 6514th Test Squadron. The plane was used as an electronic testbed and cargo transport while at Hill Air Force Base.

The aircraft was retired in January 1994 with over 11,000 flight hours, it is now on static display at the Hill Aerospace Museum.

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