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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) Gunship / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft

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.
Any available statistics for the Fairchild AC-119 (Shadow / Stinger) Gunship / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).
Fairchild AC-119G Shadow Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 1968
Type: Gunship / Close-Air Support (CAS) Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Fairchild Corporation - USA
Production: 52
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 6
Length: 86.38 ft (26.33 m)
Width: 109.28 ft (33.31 m)
Height: 26.64 ft (8.12 m)
Empty Weight: 40,124 lb (18,200 kg)
MTOW: 61,950 lb (28,100 kg)

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

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 208 mph (335 kph; 181 kts)
Maximum Range: 1,926 mi (3,100 km; 1,674 nm)
Service Ceiling: 23,294 ft (7,100 m; 4.41 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 950 ft/min (290 m/min)

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

Operators List
South Vietnam; United States

Series 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.

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun