The Herc is the best known military transport in the world, and was developed by Lockheed during the early 1950's to provide the USAF with a tactical transport. The first of two prototypes flew on August 23, 1954, and the first production C-130A flew on April 7, 1955. Delivery to the USAF began in December, 1956. Subsequent development has seen the aircraft uprated, up-weighted and stretched, along with the building of a number of special purpose versions (both military and research) to provide more than 70 variants. Over 50 countries have acquired the Hercules, as well as a number of commercial operators. The latest development, the C-130J began delivery in 1998.
The RNZAF operates five C-130H aircraft (NZ7001-NZ7005). The first three were ordered in June 1963, and delivered in April 1965, replacing the Handley Page C.Mk.3. These were the first H models to be delivered outside the USA. In 1967 two further aircraft were ordered, and they entered service with 40 Squadron in early 1969. These replaced 40 Squadron's DC.6 aircraft. The Hercules are operated world wide in a transport role. As well as providing tactical support, the aircraft have been used on VIP transport, cargo work to the Antarctic, disaster relief work in Asia and the Pacific, carried out UN operations in Africa and Bosnia, and operated with UN forces in the Gulf War. Recent international operations include support for NZ forces in East Timor, and uplifting civilians from the Solomon Islands during the coup in June 2000. The RNZAF Hercules have also had considerable success in Operation Bullseye, a cargo dropping competition, since winning the first competition in 1976.
The aircraft have been upgraded throughout their service to extend their lives. Between 1972 and 1975 all the aircraft returned to the Lockheed Georgia plant for centre-section modifications on the wings. In 1981 the aircraft returned again for outer wing panel refurbishment. The frequent low level operations in New Zealands's turbulent conditions have put considerable strain on the aircraft wings. More recently (1997-98), Project Delphi has seen the aircraft return again for modifications to install a missile approach and radar warning receiver system, chaff dispensers, and ceramic cockpit armour. All five aircraft are being modified, although only three will be fitted out with the new systems.
The aircraft currently form the bulk of the RNZAF's Fixed Wing Transport Force, following the retirement of 42 Squadron's Andovers in 1998. Along with the two 727-22QC also operated by 40 Squadron, the aircraft fly approximately 3,500 hours per annum. Now into their 4th decade the Hercules are reaching the end of their useful lives, and are expected to be replaced by around 2010 - with the C-130J currently being the preferred replacement option.
The RNZAF Hercules are:
Last Text Update:- 28 June, 2000
Last Picture Update:- 28 July, 2004
Data is for the C-130H
My first experiences in a Herc were many years ago as an Air Training Corps cadet on Camp at Hobsonville. We were bussed over to Whenuapai and taken for a ride in what seemed at the time to be the most noisy and uncomfortable aircraft I had been in. My two abiding memories are of mist forming halfway down the cargo hold (some combination of the pressurisation and the air conditioning?), and of the amazing view from the flightdeck. I've had something of a passion for this aircraft ever since!
I hadn't had a chance to renew my acquaintance at such close quarters until the NZ Warbirds held a Fly-In to celebrate their 20 anniversary in November 1998. One of the attendees was a 40 Squadron Hercules. Fortunately I got in early. As the picture to the right shows, later in the day things got rather busy! Access was from the rear and then moving forward. The picture of the ramp below was taken at the end of the day - but at least you can see the ramp! Knowing I have a 1:48 model of a Herc at home (that I really do intend to build one day) I got a few pics that could help with detailing. Hence the two views of the sides of the fuselage. Unfortunately there were a few people around and I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked to - but I think you can get a good impression of the interior.
The interior of the aircraft was rigged out to show the various roles the aircraft can carry out, and a large display board was set up. A number of personnel were on hand to talk to visitors.
The general view to the left shows the board and personal. Its tilted somewhat as I also wanted to take in the roof showing the plumbing and other bits and pieces. The view on the right is taken from almost the same point - its just looking more 'up'. Most of the interior is lines with a pale green fabric, but piping, lights, speakers and strops can readily be seen amongst some of the structural elements.
Forward on the starboard side, the aircraft was rigged with web type seating. This can be seen in the photo below left. Further forward can be seen a stretcher and part of someone's uniform. This photo gives a good impression of the general layout in the hold. Note the non slip patches and cargo rollers on the floor between the rows of seats. The attachments down the middle of the hold can better be seen in the second picture, which also shows the roof further forward. There are also tie-downs on the deck.
Stretchers were rigged on the port side at the rear. The centre right picture above shows the arrangement. Stretchers can be fitted up to five high. The people give some scale to how high this is. (The picture is taken looking aft). Depending on the configuration, the aircraft can carry 92 troops, 68 paratroops, or 74 stretcher cases with attendants.
The picture on the very right is looking forward through the access to the flight deck and the forward hatch - which can be seen to be open. Note the stowed equipment on the walls - including the mass of headset cabling.
Coming forward, the picture to the far left shows the access ladder up to the flightdeck. Alongside the steps is stowage for a variety of paperwork. At the top of the ladder to the right is seating, with a restbunk above. The hatch in the flightdeck roof is open. The other picture is looking aft, again showing the rest bunk and seating, with the open hatch above. The seating can double as a rest bunk. The stairs are to the right of the image.
The first thing you see coming up the stairs is the Navigator's position on the starboard side. As well as the instruments, there is a small table, and a swivel chair. This is shown in the pictures below.
One thing that did surprise me was the flare pistol fitted in a cage in ceiling above the Navigator's position. This is shown in the centre picture. I'm not sure why a napkin (complete with RNZAF marking) was tucked in the cage.
Here's one for the modeller's. The picture to the left is the ceiling panel in the cockpit, along with oxygen and other dangly bits. Along with the extensive instrument panel in front of the pilots, there's a lot to keep track of. The RNZAF normally operates with four up front (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Flight Engineer, and Navigator) and a loadmaster. In today's airline world that would be seen as overstaffing, but at low level all those eyes can prove useful on lookout.
The pictures above right show the general arrangement - with the Flight Engineer sitting behind and between the Pilots. This also shows the wonderful arrangement of the glazing, giving great visual coverage from up front - particularly to either side and below with windows above, and at knee level. Most of the people ahown were also visitors to the aircraft.
That was pretty much it for my look around. I had planned to go back later in the day when things got 'quieter' - my mistake. They got much, much busier. I'm obviously not the only Hercules fan out there. So until I manage to get a few more images, I'll finish this pictorial tour with the exit - the forward crew door on the port side, below the flight deck. More exterior images can be found below and in the 'Close up' section.
My thanks to the 40 Squadron personnel whom I spoke to while looking around their wonderful aircraft!
Remember to let me know if you have a request for an image of a particular part of the aircraft!
© 1998-2003 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved