Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Operational history

The Hercules holds the record for the largest and heaviest aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier. In October and November 1963, a USMC KC-130F (BuNo 149798), made 21 unarrested landings and take-offs on the USS Forrestal at a number of different weights. The pilot, Lt. James Flatley III, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his participation. The tests were highly successful, but the idea was considered too risky for routine "Carrier Onboard Delivery" (COD) operations. Instead, the C-2 Greyhound was developed as a dedicated COD aircraft. (The Hercules used in the test, most recently in service with VMGR-352 until 2005, is now part of the collection at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola, Florida.)

While the C-130 is involved in cargo and resupply operations daily, it has been a part of some notable offensive operations:

The MC-130 variant carries and deploys what are currently the world's largest conventional bombs, the BLU-82 "daisy cutter" and GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. Daisy cutters were used during the Vietnam War to clear landing zones for helicopters and to eliminate minefields and have recently even been proposed for anti-personnel use. The weight and size of the weapons make it impossible or impractical to load them on conventional bombers.

In the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Pakistan Air Force modified/improvised several aircraft for use as heavy bombers, and attacks were made on enemy bridges and troop concentrations with some notable successes. No aircraft were lost in the operations, though one was slightly damaged.

It was also used in the 1976 Entebbe raid in which Israeli commando forces carried a surprise assault to rescue 103 passengers of an airliner hijacked by Palestinian and German terrorists at Entebbe Airport, Uganda. The rescue force — 200 soldiers, jeeps, and a black Mercedes-Benz (intended to resemble Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin's vehicle of state) — was flown 4,000 kilometres (2,160 nmi) from Israel to Entebbe by five Israeli Air Force (IAF) Hercules aircraft without mid-air refueling (on the way back, the planes refueled in Nairobi, Kenya).

During the Falklands War of 1982, Argentine Air Force C-130s undertook highly dangerous, daily re-supply flights to the Argentine garrison on the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Only one was lost during the war. Argentina also operated two KC-130s refuellers during the war, and these refueled the Skyhawk attack planes which sank the British frigate HMS Antelope. The British also used their C-130s to support their logistical operations.

During the Gulf War of 1991, the C-130 Hercules was used operationally by the US Air Force, US Navy and US Marines, and the air forces of Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the UK.

During the invasion of Afghanistan and in support of the International Security Assistance Force, the C-130 Hercules was used operationally by Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, the UK and the United States.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the C-130 Hercules was used operationally by Australia, the UK and the United States. After the initial invasion, C-130 operators as part of the Multinational force in Iraq used their C-130s to support their forces in Iraq.

A prominent C-130T aircraft is Fat Albert, the support aircraft for the US Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. Although Fat Albert supports a Navy squadron, it is operated by the US Marine Corps (USMC) and its crew consists solely of USMC personnel. At some air shows featuring the team, Fat Albert takes part, performing flyovers and sometimes demonstrating its jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) capabilities.

Civilian uses

In the late 1980s, 22 retired USAF C-130As were removed from storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and transferred to the U.S. Forest Service who then sold them to six private companies to be converted into airtankers for use in fighting wildfires (see U.S. Forest Service airtanker scandal). After two of these aircraft crashed due to wing separation in flight as a result of fatigue stress cracking, the entire fleet of C-130A airtankers was permanently grounded in 2004.

An Australian defence force Hercules plane was hired to carry a 530 lb (240 kg) patient because there were no ambulances or planes big enough to transport her. Even though the woman was deemed well enough to travel by road from Mt Isa to Townsville, the Queensland Ambulance Service had no vehicles to carry her.

Wikipedia: C-130 Hercules