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  • Lockheed AC-130H Spectre / AC-130U Spooky Close Air-Support (CAS) / Air Interdiction / Force Protection Gunship

    The Lockheed AC-130 is a special-mission gunship variant of the storied C-130 Hercules high-wing transport.

     Updated: 6/13/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    Since the advent of the airplane as an instrument of war, warplanners have relied on the power of mobile aerial attacks to keep an enemy on its toes. From the simple dropping of flechettes on entrenched enemy positions in World War One, to the direct contact assaults prevalent in World War Two, this is no more truer than with the converted C-130 series of gunships (known respectively per models as the AC-130H "Spectre" and AC-130U "Spooky"). The Spectre and Spooky systems have evolved to become an important part of the ever-changing battlefield, where contact with enemy forces is likely, and the need for precision yet powerful aerial artillery is evermore important.

    The AC-130, having been derived from the armed AC-47 gunship series, saw extensive and successful action against enemy forces in the Vietnam War. Appearing very much like the base C-130 transport model - a system that already came into its own as one of the most successful transport designs ever made - but were armed with a lethal array of miniguns, cannons and howitzers. From a basic design perspective, the AC-130 is a shoulder-mounted straight wing system with a single large rudder aft. Four Allison turboprops are mounted underwing, with two per wing. The spacious cargo bay of the base C130 allows for the carrying of the powerful 105mm cannon along with additional weaponry, ammunition and necessary systems.

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    Lockheed AC-130H Spectre Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1972
    Type: Close Air-Support (CAS) / Air Interdiction / Force Protection Gunship
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Lockheed Aircraft Corporation / The Boeing Company - USA
    Production Total: 21

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: AC-130H: 8 / AC-130U: 13
    Length: 97.77 feet (29.8 meters)
    Width: 132.55 feet (40.40 meters)
    Height: 38.39 feet (11.70 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 72,891 lb (33,063 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 155,003 lb (70,308 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 4 x Rolls-Royce Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines developing 4,910 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 300 mph (482 kph; 260 knots)
    Maximum Range: 2,200 miles (3,540 km)
    Service Ceiling: 24,856 feet (7,576 meters; 4.71 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    AC-130H "Spectre":
    2 x 20mm cannons
    1 x 40mm cannon
    1 x 105mm cannon

    AC-130U "Spooky":
    1 x 25mm gun
    1 x 40mm cannon
    1 x 105mm cannon

    Global Operators / Customers

    United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    C-130 - Base transport model

    AC-130H - Callsign of 'Spectre'; 8 crewmen; Dual 20mm Vulcan, 40mm and 105mm cannons.

    AC-130U - Callsign of 'Spooky'; 13 crewmen; Varying avionics and sub-systems; Third generation AC-130 gunship variant; Addition of 25mm gun to 40mm and 105mm standard armament.

    AC-130W "Stinger II" - Redesignation of MC-130W "Dragon Spear" model.