Here’s an interesting bit of carrier and aviation history. The A-3 Skywarrior is the largest naval aircraft to operate routinely off a carrier deck but larger aircraft have landed and taken off. One such example was the C-130 Hercules which landed without an arresting hook and took off without a catapult – and did so with room to spare!
The experimental landings and takeoffs were part of an investigation into the use of supersized aircraft for logistics support. The choice of the C-130 was fairly obvious given its excellent flight characteristics, stability, range, and cargo capacity. The event took place on
30-Oct-1963 on the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) in
few hundred miles off . Boston
As described in a Aviationist website article, the C-130 was only slightly altered.
Lockheed’s only modifications to the original plane was a smaller nose-landing gear orifice, an improved anti-skid braking system, and removal of the underwing refueling pods. (1)
The test was not just a one-time, lucky event.
The initial sea trials started on
Oct. 30 1963 and were conducted into a 40-knot wind: however the crew successfully
performed 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21
unassisted takeoffs at gross weights of 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds. (1)
So, how did the aircraft perform?
At 85,000 pounds, the KC-130F came to a complete stop within 267 feet …
The Navy discovered that even with a maximum payload, the plane used only 745 feet of flight deck for takeoff and 460 feet for landing.
These achievements were confirmed by Lockheed’s Ted Limmer, … “The last landing I participated in, we touched down about 150 feet from the end, stopped in 270 feet more and launched from that position, using what was left of the deck. We still had a couple hundred feet left when we lifted off.” (1)
|C-130 Operating From USS Forrestal|
What was the ultimate conclusion?
The analysis of data collected by the U.S. Navy during the tests highlighted that the C-130 Hercules could carry 25,000 pounds of freight, fly for 2,500 miles and eventually land on a carrier. However, the procedure was considered a bit too risky for the C-130 and the Navy decided to use a smaller COD aircraft. (1)
We tend to forget just how much was accomplished and how much is possible today. Reminders, such as this, help us recall what we were once capable of.
Hmm ……….. V-22 Osprey COD or C-130 Hercules COD? I know which I’d want!
Note: If you're interested, there are videos of the event readily available on YouTube.
(1)The Aviationist website, “Look Ma, No Hook: how a C-130 Hercules managed to land on an aircraft carrier”, Dario Leone,