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Fairchild AC-119 (Shadow / Stinger) - United States, 1968

Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairchild AC-119 (Shadow / Stinger) Gunship / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 4/8/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Fairchild AC-119 (Shadow / Stinger)  
Picture of Fairchild AC-119 (Shadow / Stinger)

The Fairchild AC-119 gunship proved to be a successful conversion of the Fairchild C-119 transport aircraft.

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.

Fairchild AC-119G Shadow Specifications

Service Year: 1968
Type: Gunship / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Fairchild Corporation - USA
Total Production: 52

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 6
Overall Length: 86.38 feet (26.33 meters)
Overall Width: 109.28 feet (33.31 meters)
Overall Height: 26.64 feet (8.12 meters)

Weight (Empty): 40,124 lb (18,200 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 61,950 lb (28,100 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x Wright R-3350-85 "Duplex Cyclone" radial piston engines developing 3,500 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 181 knots (208 mph; 335 kph)
Maximum Range: 1,674 nautical miles (1,926 miles; 3,100 km)
Service Ceiling: 23,294 feet (7,100 meters; 4.41 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 950 feet-per-minute (290 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

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 guns
60 x Mk 24 flares

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

South Vietnam; United States

Model Variants

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 cannons.

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