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Fairchild AC-119 (Shadow / Stinger)

Gunship / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft

The Fairchild AC-119 fixed-wing gunship platform proved to be a successful conversion of the original Fairchild C-119 transport aircraft.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 9/2/2019
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Year: 1968
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Manufacturer(s): Fairchild Corporation - USA
Production: 52
Capabilities: Close-Air Support (CAS);
Crew: 6
Length: 86.38 ft (26.33 m)
Width: 109.28 ft (33.31 m)
Height: 26.64 ft (8.12 m)
Weight (Empty): 40,124 lb (18,200 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 61,950 lb (28,100 kg)
Power: 2 x Wright R-3350-85 "Duplex Cyclone" radial piston engines developing 3,500 horsepower each.
Speed: 208 mph (335 kph; 181 kts)
Ceiling: 23,294 feet (7,100 m; 4.41 miles)
Range: 1,926 miles (3,100 km; 1,674 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 950 ft/min (290 m/min)
Operators: South Vietnam; United States
The Fairchild AC-119 series was a modified form of the successful Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar" transport aircraft. AC-119's saw service in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and fulfilled a "dual-role" capability based on model type: "Shadow" versions represented the adopted name by crews of their respective AC-119G models whereas "Stinger" versions were AC-119K models. Though similar aircraft in many respects, Shadows were called serve in the close-support and airbase defense roles whereas Stingers fulfilled more aggressive search-and-destroy sorties. Concentration of the AC-119K variants revolved heavily on the Ho Chi Minh supply trail as these aircraft were required to target any and all incoming and outgoing supplies as well as troop convoys.

A standard operating crew during day sorties was six with night sorties adding two more specialists. The aircraft received drive power from 2 x Wright R-3350-85 "Duplex Cyclone" radial piston engines of 3,500 horsepower each (AC-119G models) to which maximum speeds reached 210 miles per hour, cruising speeds reached 150 miles per hour, ranges were out to 1,930 miles and a service ceiling of 23,300 feet was possible. Armament varied between the two models - 4 x 7.62mm GAU-2/A miniguns was standard while the AC-119K carired an additional 2 x 20mm M61 "Vulcan" six-barreled Gatling guns. Each aircraft also carried 60 x Mk 24 flares fired from an LAU-74/A series launcher.

Service entry of this line came during November 1968. Operating squadrons were part of the 14th Special Operations Wing and 56th Special Operations Wing (Thailand) - all serving under the banner of the United States Air Force's Tactical Air Command service. In 1972, control of at least sixteen AC-119K models was given to the South Vietnamese Air Force and limited numbers operated from Thai airfields during the year but the line had seen its end.

52 total AC-119 aircraft were constructed and only five of these were lost during the war.


AC-119G "Shadow":
4 x 7.62mm miniguns.
60 x Mk 24 flares.

AC-119K "Stinger":
4 x 7.62mm GAU-2/A miniguns.
2 x 20mm "Vulcan" six-barreled Gatling-style guns.
60 x Mk 24 flares.

Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun

Variants / Models

• C-119 - Base Transport Model
• AC-119G "Shadow" - Gunship Conversion Model Designation; modified gunship based on the C-119G transport model; fitted with 4 x 7.62mm miniguns.
• AC-119K "Stinger" - Gunship Model Variant; fitted with 4 x 7.62mm miniguns and 2 x 20mm automatic cannons.
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