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Lockheed C-5 Galaxy Outsize Heavy Cargo Transport (1970)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/8/2009

At the time of its inception, the C-5 Galaxy was the largest transport aircraft ever produced.

At one time the Lockheed-built C-5 Galaxy was the largest aircraft ever produced, being able to field a compliment of 350 troops, 10 LAV-type systems, 5 Humvee vehicles, 2 M1 Abrams main battle tanks or a single CH-47 Chinook. The system offered up inter-continental ranges of nearly 5,000 kilometers while providing US armed forces with an earth mover-type instrument to ferry equipment, weaponry or supplies anywhere on the globe where needed. Though inducted into service since 1969 with the C-5A model, modernization programs are expected to keep the massive C-5 Galaxy series in operational service up to 2040.

The C-5 system was developed from a United Air Force requirement that sought a large transport aircraft capable of transferring immense payloads over long ranges. Three contractors in the form of Lockheed, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas all submitted designs for the airframe portion whilst Pratt & Whitney and General Electric squared off on delivery designs for the engines needed to power the transport. By October of 1965, Lockheed would be selected as the primary recipient of the Department of Defense contract for the airframe and General Electric - selected a full two months earlier - was already onboard to provide their new TF39 high bypass turbofan engines into the mix.

The resulting design was a high-wing monoplane with four underslung engines, a high flight deck cockpit atop a huge front hinged opening cargo ramp and a single t-type tail assembly with an alternative powered rear door/ramp. The C-5 would be fielded with a full compliment of five primary crewmembers (composed of two pilots, two loadmasters and a single flight engineer) with optional accommodations for an additional fifteen relief crew for longer flights. The cargo hold had the capacity to fit up to 256,000lbs of freight.

The C-5 first appeared for service in late 1969 with the C-5A model series. Up to 81 were delivered but no fewer than 77 had to be re-winged when it was found that the wing structure proved too weak. The type was later fitted with more powerful TF39-GE-1C engines as well to compensate for the newer and heavier wing load. As a result of the new wing and powerplants, the system's freight-carrying capacity was also favorably increased to nearly 275,000lbs. This process produced a new batch of C-5's now known by the new standardization of C-5B of which another 50 examples were added to the Galaxy production total in 1980. The C-5C model was derived from two modified C-5A models and utilized for space cargo operations.

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Specifications for the
Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
Outsize Heavy Cargo Transport

Focus Model: Lockheed C-5B Galaxy
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Lockheed-Georgia Company - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1970
Production Total: 126

Crew: 7 (pilot, co-pilot, two flight engineers and three loadmasters)

Length: 247.83 ft (75.54 m)
Width: 222.70 ft (67.88 m)
Height: 65.12ft (19.85 m)
Weight (Empty): 373,999 lb (169,643 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 836,996 lb (379,655 kg)

Powerplant: 4 x General Electric TF39-GE-1C turbofans generating 43,000lbs of thrust each.

Maximum Speed: 572 mph (920 kmh; 497 kts)
Maximum Range: 6,468 miles (10,410 km)
Service Ceiling: 33,999 ft (10,363 m; 6.4 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,725 feet-per-minute (526 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:

C-5A - Initial production model series; 81 examples delivered; most re-winged in later years to counter structural weaknesses.

C-5B - Improved C-5A with improved automatic flight control system; redesigned and simplified landing gear systems; uprated engines; new wings for extended life.

C-5C - Modified C-5A models for satellite carriage (outsized space cargo operations); two such examples.

United States