The C-130 Hercules has to count as one of the most successful military aircraft of all time. It entered service in 1956 and is still in production today (admittedly in a rather improved version). Produced only a decade after the end of the Second World War, it was a great improvement over the main wartime transport aircraft, with it’s large rear entry ramp and high tail and a fuselage that was both low to the ground and level when on the ground, making it easier to load and unload the aircraft. It might not have been a terribly revolutionary design – the slightly earlier Fairchild C-123 was a similar design, and the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar shared the level fuselage and rear loading door, but the C-130 was a
Anyone who is familiar with Bowman’s work will know what to expect here – a series of chapters largely filled with first hand accounts of the topic in question, with some chapters dominated by a single source. However in this particular book one gets the impression that Bowman is writing on ‘home ground’ – this is clearly a topic in which he has had a long term interest, and there are far more personal comments than is normally the case, along with a number of his own photographs.
What impresses most is the wide range of missions flown by the C-130. Even if you just looked at its time as a transport aircraft we find it serving in Vietnam, supporting anti-arctic exploration, carrying out disaster relief in the Pacific or supporting the coalition during the wars in Iraq. However the C-130 has also been used as a combat aircraft, most famously as a gunship starting in Vietnam, but also as an ECM aircraft, on psychological warfare duties, and even as a rather impromptu bomber! This book also covers the C-130’s service with Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
The last chapter looks at the current production version of the Hercules, recognisably the same aircraft despite a series of improvements that have transformed its performance. Finally there are appendices that list the impressive range of commercial, humanitarian and military users of the aircraft, as well as the rather bewildering range of models and variants of the C-130.
1 - By the Numbers
2 - Trash Haulers - The Workhorse of the Vietnam War
3 - The Last Flight of the ‘Stray Goose’, Colonel John Gargus, USAF (Ret)
4 - Haul on Call
5 - Operation ‘Dragon Rouge’
6 - Operation ‘Thunderbolt’
7 - Operation ‘Eagle Claw’
8 - The Quiet Professionals
9 - The Antipodean Hercules
10 - Conflict, Comfort, Relief, Hope and Enduring Freedom
11 - That Eagles May Fly
12 - The 21st Century Hercules
I - Commercial and Humanitarian Operators Past and Present
II - World Military User Directory
III - Models and Variants
Author: Martin W. Bowman
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation