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C-130 Hercules Lockheed
C-130 Hercules
Heavy Transport

Development of the C-130 Hercules began in the early 1950s, and the popular transport continues to be produced in large numbers half a century later. New C-130J and L-100 airframes continue to enter service both for military and civil operators, a trend which shows no signs of slowing for at least the next several years.

Following the Berlin Airlift and the Korean War, the USAF realized the need for a new transport with a large unobstructed cargo space, turboprop engines for better performance, and rough field operational capability. The winner of the USAF design competition was the Lockheed C-130. With a high-mounted wing to maximize cargo space and a hydraulically-operated ramp at the rear of the fuselage, the C-130 set the standard layout for all future cargo aircraft.

The initial C-130A was so popular with pilots and capable of such exceptional performance that the basic airframe was soon adapted to numerous other tasks. Many early models were converted to AC-130 aerial gunships equipped with large-caliber guns and heavy armor. Other applications in which the C-130 has found success include search-and-rescue, airborne refueling, airborne early warning, and special forces transport.

Over 2,000 C-130 aircraft have been built in numerous variants. Current production is focused on the latest C-130J models.

Data below for C-130H and AC-130U
Last modified 06 April 2011

First Flight (YC-130A) 13 August 1954
(C-130A) 7 April 1955
(C-130E) 25 August 1961
Service Entry

(C-130A) December 1956
(C-130B) May 1959
(C-130E) August 1962
(EC-130E) 1986
(MC-130E) 1966
(C-130H) June 1974
(AC-130H) 1972
(EC-130H) June 1974
(MC-130H) June 1991
(WC-130H) 1964
(C-130J) February 1999
(HC-130P/N) 1964
(MC-130P) 1986
(AC-130U) 1995

CREW: (C-130E/H) five: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, loadmaster
(EC-130E) 16: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, mission control chief, flight engineer, loadmaster, five electronic communications systems operators, five electronic communications systems operators
(MC-130E) nine: pilot, co-pilot, two navigators, electronic warfare officer; flight engineer, radio operator, two loadmasters
(EC-130H) 13: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, electronic warfare officer, mission crew supervisor, four crypto logic linguists, high band operator, acquisition operator, airborne maintenance technician
(MC-130H) seven: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, electronic warfare officer; flight engineer, two loadmasters
(WC-130H) six: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, aerial reconnaissance weather officer, dropsonde system operator
(C-130J) three: pilot, co-pilot, loadmaster
(EC-130J) 10: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, mission control chief, loadmaster, five electronic communications systems operators
(HC-130P/N) 10: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, airborne communications specialist, two loadmasters, three pararescuemen
(MC-130P) eight: pilot, co-pilot, right navigator, left navigator, flight engineer, communications systems operator, two loadmasters
(AC-130U) 13: pilot, co-pilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare office, flight engineer, TV operator, infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, four aerial gunners

PASSENGERS: 92 troops, 64 paratroops, or 74 stretchers


(C-130E) $11.9 million [1998$]
(C-130H) $30.1 million [1998$]
(EC-130E) $70 million [2004$]
(MC-130E) $75 million [2001$]
(AC-130H) $132.4 million [2001$]
(EC-130H) $30.1 million [2003$]
(MC-130H) $155 million [2001$]
(WC-130H) $13 million [1960$]
(C-130J) $48.5 million [1998$]
(EC-130J) $90 million [2004$]
(HC-130P/N) $18.4 million [1998$]
(MC-130P) $75 million [2001$]
(AC-130U) $190 million [2001$]

Wing Root NACA 64A318
Wing Tip

NACA 64A412

Length 97.75 ft (29.79 m)
Wingspan 132.58 ft (40.41 m)
Height 38.25 ft (11.66 m)
Wing Area 1,745 ft² (162.12 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 75,745 lb (34,430 kg)
Normal Takeoff 155,000 lb (70,455 kg)
Max Takeoff 175,000 lb (79,380 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 44,240 lb (20,108 kg)
external: 18,160 lb (8,255 kg)
Max Payload

42,580 lb (19,355 kg)

Powerplant four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops (plus jet-assisted takeoff capability)
Thrust 18,032 shp (13,448 kW)

Max Level Speed at altitude: 385 mph (620 km/h)
at sea level: unknown
cruise speed: 345 mph (555 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate 1,900 ft (579 m) / min
Service Ceiling 33,000 ft (10,060 m)
Range typical: 2,160 nm (4,000 km)
ferry: 4,270 nm (7,900 km)
g-Limits unknown

Gun (normal) none
(AC-130U) one 105-mm howitzer, one Bofors 40-mm gun, one GAU-12/U 25-mm six-barrel gun (3,000 rds)
Stations 2 hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile none
Air-to-Surface Missile none
Bomb GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, BLU-82 Daisy Cutter
Other none

YC-130A Prototype; 2 built
C-130A First production model with Allison T56-A-1A engines; 204 built
AC-130A C-130A models converted to gunships for use in Vietnam
C-130A-II C-130A models modified for electronic reconnaissance
DC-130A or GC-130A C-130A models converted to launch and control drone aircraft
JC-130A C-130A models modified to track and retrieve missiles tested over the Atlantic test range
NC-130A Test aircraft
RC-130A C-130A models modified for photo-reconnaissance
TC-130A Prototype crew training aircraft converted from C-130A
C-130B Extended-range version with increased fuel capacity and gross weight as well as improved engines; 132 built
C-130B-II or RC-130B C-130B models converted to electronic reconnaissance role
HC-130B US Coast Guard search-and-rescue model; 12 built
JC-130B C-130B models modified for aerial recovery of spy satellite data capsules
KC-130B C-130B models modified as in-flight refueling tankers; 2 converted
VC-130B JC-130B temporarily used as a staff transport
WC-130B Weather reconnaissance model based on the C-130B
C-130D Arctic/Antarctic model equipped with skis
C-130E Extended-range version with increased fuel capacity and improved engines; 389 built
AC-130E C-130E models modified for aerial gunship role
C-130E-II or EC-130E Airborne command and control model based on the C-130E; at least 9 converted
DC-130E C-130E models converted to launch and control drone aircraft
EC-130E C-130E models rebuilt for command and control mission
HC-130E C-130E models converted for search-and-rescue duty
JC-130E Test aircraft
MC-130E Combat Talon HC-130E models modified for clandestine special forces missions
MC-130E-C Subariant of the MC-130E equipped with Fulton STAR equipment
MC-130E-S Subvariant of the MC-130E equipped for signals intelligence missions
MC-130E-Y Subvariant of the MC-130E
NC-130E Test aircraft
WC-130E C-130E models converted for weather reconnaissance
C-130F or GV-1U US Navy transport similar to the C-130B
KC-130F or GV-1 US Marines in-flight refueling tanker
LC-130F or UV-1L US Navy ski-equipped transport for Antarctic use; 4 built
C-130G US Navy transport similar to the C-130E; 4 built
EC-130G C-130G aircraft converted as VLF communications relay platforms; 4 converted
C-130H New build aircraft with more powerful engines and a strengthened airframe
C-130H (CT) Former MC-130E aircraft rebuilt with new engines and avionics
C-130H-MP or PC-130H Maritime patrol and search-and-rescue model based on the C-130H
C-130H (S) C-130H model built with the lengthened fuselage of the L-100-30
AC-130H Spectre AC-130E gunship models rebuilt with new engines and in-flight refueling capability
DC-130H C-130H aircraft converted for drone launch and control duty
EC-130H Compass Call Former EC-130E aircraft rebuilt with new engines and used for communications jamming as well as other electronic warfare duties
HC-130H SAR and recovery model with re-entry tracking radar system
HC-130H(N) New-build version of the HC-130 search-and-rescue model equipped with improved avionics
JHC-130H HC-130H models modified to recover spy satellite data capsules; 3 converted
KC-130H In-flight refueling tanker exported to US allies
LC-130H US Air Force ski-equipped version of the C-130H; 4 built
MC-130H Combat Talon II Replacement for the MC-130E with a new radar, FLIR system, defensive countermeasures, and a low-altitude delivery system
VC-130H HC-130H models converted into VIP transports; 2 converted
WC-130H HC-130H models modified to conduct weather reconnaissance; 15 converted
C-130J Improved new build model with uprated engines and new avionics, can carry up to 92 troops, 64 paratroops, 74 litters, five cargo pallets, or 16 container delivery system bundles
C-130J-30 Long-range stretched C-130J equipped with Enhanced Cargo Handling System, can carry up to 128 troops, 92 paratroops, 97 litters, seven cargo pallets, or 24 container delivery system bundles
EC-130J Commando Solo Variant of the C-130J used by the US Air Force to make broadcasts in radio, television, and military communications bands
HC-130J Variant of the C-130J used by the US Coast Guard for long-range surveillance maritime patrol missions and by the US Air Force for combat search and rescue
KC-130J New in-flight refueling transport for US Marines with 21% higher speed and 40% greater range than older KC-130F/R models, equipped with improved refueling system, night vision system and other upgraded avionics
MC-130J Special operations variant of the C-130J built for the US Air Force
C-130K or Hercules C.1 British Royal Air Force model
C-130K or Hercules C.3 British Royal Air Force model with a lengthened fuselage
HC-130N Search-and rescue model; 15 built
HC-130P Search-and rescue model equipped to refuel rescue helicopters
MC-130P Combat Shadow Special operations version of the HC-130N/P
EC-130Q Advanced version of the EC-130G based on the C-130H
KC-130R US Marines refueling tanker similar to the KC-130H
LC-130R US Navy ski-equipped version with improvements over the LC-130H; 6 built
RC-130S JC-130A aircraft equipped with high-intensity lights for night SAR missions; 2 converted
KC-130T US Marines Corps Reserves refueling tanker similar to the KC-130R but with updated avionics
KC-130T-30H Tanker with the lengthened fuselage of the C-130H(S) allowing increased fuel capacity
AC-130U Spooky US Air Force special forces aerial gunship based on the MC-130H, equipped with a new 25-mm Gatling gun and upgraded electronics; 13 built
EC-130V or C-130 AEW US Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft converted to carry a new radar mounted above the fuselage for use against drug smuggling
L-100 Civil version of the C-130
HTTB Lockheed test aircraft intended for short takeoff/landing research, equipped with advanced flight controls, new avionics, enlarged flaps, strengthened landing gear, and other improvements


Vietnam War (USAF, USN, USMC, 1965-1972)
Yom Kippur War (Israel, 1973)
Iran - Operation Eagle Claw (USAF [C-130, KC-130], 1980)
Grenada - Operation Urgent Fury (USAF [C-130, AC-130, EC-130, MC-130], 1983)
Panama - Operation Just Cause (USAF [C-130, AC-130], 1989)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (USAF, USMC [C-130, AC-130, KC-130], 1991)
Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (USAF [EC-130E/H, AC-130H, MC/HC-130P], Italy [C-130], Spain [KC-130], 1995)
Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (USAF [AC-130H], 1999)
Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (USAF, USMC [C-130, AC-130U, EC-130, KC-130], 2001-present)
Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (USAF, USMC, Japan [C-130, AC-130U, EC-130, KC-130], 2003-present)
Libya - Operation Unified Protector / Odyssey Dawn (Canada, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Sweden, USAF [C-130, AC-130U, EC-130], USMC [KC-130J], 2011)


Algeria, Al Quwwat al Jawwawiya al Jaza'eriya (Algerian Air Force)
Argentina, Fuerza Aérea Argentina (Argentine Air Force)
Australia (Royal Australian Air Force)
Belgium, Belgishe Luchtmacht/Force Aérienne Belge (Belgian Air Force)
Bolivia, Fuerza Aérea Boliviana (Bolivian Air Force)
Brazil, Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force)
Cameroon, l'Armee de l'Air du Cameroun (Cameroon Air Force)
Canada (Canadian Armed Forces, Air Command)
Chad, Force Aérienne Tchadienne (Chad Air Force)
Chile, Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Chilean Air Force)
Colombia, Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (Columbian Air Force)
Denmark, Kongelige Danske Flyvevåbnet (Royal Danish Air Force)
Ecuador, Fuerza Aérea Equatoriana (Ecuadorian Air Force)
Egypt, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya il Misriya (Egyptian Air Force)
France, Armée de l'Air (French Air Force)
Gabon, Armée de l'Air Gabonaise (Gabon Air Force)
Greece, Elliniki Polimiki Aeroporia (Hellenic Air Force)
Honduras, Fuerza Aérea Hondureña (Honduran Air Force)
India, Bharatiya Vayu Sena (Indian Air Force)
Indonesia, Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara (Indonesian Air Force)
Iran (Imperial Iranian Air Force)
Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force)
Iraq, Al Quwwat Al Jawwiya al Iraqiya (Iraqi Air Force)
Israel, Tsvah Haganah le Israel - Heyl Ha'Avir (Israeli Defence Force - Air Force)
Italy, Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force)
Japan, Nihon Koku-Jieitai (Japan Air Self Defence Force)
Jordan, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Malakiya al-Urduniya (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
Kuwait, al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Kuwaitiya (Kuwaiti Air Force)
Libya, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Jamahiriya al Arabia al Libyya (Libyan Air Force)
Malaysia, Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Air Force)
Mexico, Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (Mexican Air Force)
Morocco, Al Quwwat al Jawiyya al Malakiya Marakishiya (Royal Moroccan Air Force)
Netherlands, Koninklijke Luchmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force)
New Zealand (Royal New Zealand Air Force)
Nigeria (Nigerian Air Force)
Norway, Kongelige Norske Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
Oman, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Sultanat Oman (Royal Oman Air Force)
Pakistan, Pakistan Fiza'ya (Pakistani Air Force)
Peru, Fuerza Aérea del Perú (Peruvian Air Force)
Philippines, Hukbong Himpapawid ng Pilipinas (Philippine Air Force)
Portugal, Força Aérea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force)
Qatar (Qatar Emiri Air Force)
Saudi Arabia, Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Malakiya as Sa'udiya (Royal Saudi Air Force)
Singapore (Republic of Singapore Air Force)
South Africa, Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag (South African Air Force)
South Korea, Han-guk Kong Goon (Republic of Korea Air Force)
Spain, Ejército del Aire Española (Spanish Air Force)
Sudan, Silakh al Jawwiya As'Sudaniya (Sudanese Air Force)
Sweden, Svenska Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force)
Taiwan, Chung-Kuo Kung Chuan (Republic of China Air Force)
Thailand, Kongtap Agard Thai (Royal Thai Air Force)
Tunisia, Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At'Tunisia (Republic of Tunisia Air Force)
Turkey, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force)
United Arab Emirates (United Arab Emirates Air Force)
United Kingdom (Royal Air Force)
United States (US Air Force)
United States (US Coast Guard)
United States (US Marine Corps)
United States (US Navy)
Uruguay, Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya (Uruguayan Air Force)
Venezuela, Fuerza Aérea Venezolana (Venezuelan Air Force)
Yemen (Unified Yemen Air Force)
Zaire, Force Aérienne Zairoise (Zaire Air Force)


C-130 Hercules

  • Bonds, Ray, ed. The Modern US War Machine: An Encyclopedia of American Military Equipment and Strategy. NY: Military Press, 1987, p. 188.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 574-575, Lockheed C-130 Hercules.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 226-235, Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport versions, AC-130A/E/H, DC-130, EC-130E, EC-130H Compass Call, EC-130V, HC-130, KC-130, LC-130F/H/R, MC-130.
  • Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Warplanes. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995, p. 152-157, Lockheed C-130A/G Hercules, C-130H/K, AC-130, HC-130, KC-130, MC-130.
  • Laur, Timothy M. and Llanso, Steven L. Encyclopedia of Modern U.S. Military Weapons. NY: Berkley Books, 1995, p. 44-47, Hercules (C-130).
  • Miller, David, ed. The Illustrated Directory of Modern American Weapons. London: Salamander Books, 2002, p. 142-143, 148-151, Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules, MC-130E/H Combat Talon I/II, MC-130P Combat Shadow.
  • Müller, Claudio. Aircraft of the World. NY: Muddle Puddle Books, 2004, p. 224-225, Lockheed C-130J Hercules II.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 138-139.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 130, 188, 273-275, Lockheed AC-130H and Rockwell AC-130U Spectre, EC-130 Series, C-130 and L-100 Hercules.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 116, 168-169, 264-266, Lockheed Martin AC-130H Spectre and Rockwell AC-130U Spooky, EC-130 series, C-130J Airborne Early Warning variants, C-130 and L-100, and C-130J and L-100J.
  • US Air Force C-130, AC-130, HC-130, MC-130 & WC-130 Fact Sheets
  • US Navy C-130 Fact Sheet

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