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Boeing YC-14 (Model 953) - United States, 1976

Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing YC-14 (Model 953) Tactical Airlifter Transport Aircraft Prototype.

 Entry last updated on 10/23/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Boeing YC-14 (Model 953)  
Picture of Boeing YC-14 (Model 953)

The Boeing YC-14 tactical airlifter prototype met USAF expectations but the service moved in another direction - leaving just two examples completed.

The United States Air Force (USAF) attempted to replace the long-running, prop-driven Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" tactical transport during the mid-1970s. With production beginning in 1954, the high-winged, four-engined C-130 had been in service for several decades up to that point and a myriad of variants were ultimately realized when the USAF established the Advanced Medium STOL Transport (AMST) competition of 1968 to seek a standardized successor. From the RFP (Request For Proposal) of 1972, Boeing's entry into the competition became its "YC-14" and this was set against the McDonnell Douglas "YC-15" prototype.

The C-130 set the standard for successful medium-class transports with its high-mounted wings and elevated empennage. The mounting of the engines along these wing elements forced a "T-style" tail unit to be used to help clear prop-wash. The cockpit was set over the short nose assembly for a commanding view and the elevated tail unit allowed for excellent access to the cargo hold from the rear. Performance-wise, the C-130 could operate from little-prepared airfields which added a rugged quality to the series still appreciated today.

With this in mind, Boeing engineers returned with a similar design arrangement in the Model 953 - save for propeller-driven propulsion. Instead, a pair of large turbofan engines took their place on the wing leading edges in the form of 2 x General Electric CF6-50D engines of 51,000lb thrust each - the exhaust blowing over the trailing edge flaps. The operating crew numbered three and internal capacity ranged from 150 combat-ready troops to 69,000lb of cargo. Overall length became 131.7 feet with a wingspan of 129 feet and height of 48.3 feet. Empty weight was 117,500lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 251,000lb.

Boeing and McDonnell Douglas each had their designs selected from a field of five entries and each were awarded prototype contracts for two examples. Boeing prototype 72-1873 went to the air for the first time on August 9th, 1976 and the second example followed as 72-1874 in time. The formal USAF head-to-head competition began in November of 1976 at Edwards AFB and this phase lasted into mid-1977.

In the end, neither design was adopted for further development nor serial production due to the fact that the USAF had begun moving away from tactical-minded airlifters and towards strategic-minded types. To rework the two designs would have required considerable modifications so the AMST program was ended before the start of 1980. From there, the USAF moved on a new initiative - the "C-X" program which yielded the C-17 "Globemaster III" still in service today.

McDonnell Douglas was eventually merged into the Boeing brand label in August of 1997 - thus the C-17 design, originating from McDonnell Douglas, today exists as a Boeing product.

Boeing YC-14 Specifications

Service Year: 1976
Status: Cancelled
Type: Tactical Airlifter Transport Aircraft Prototype
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Boeing Company - USA
Total Production: 2

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 3
Overall Length: 131.73 feet (40.15 meters)
Overall Width: 129.00 feet (39.32 meters)
Overall Height: 48.39 feet (14.75 meters)

Weight (Empty): 117,749 lb (53,410 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 250,996 lb (113,850 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x General Electric CF6-50D turbofan engines developing 51,000lb of thrust each.

Maximum Speed: 437 knots (503 mph; 810 kph)
Maximum Range: 2,773 nautical miles (3,191 miles; 5,135 km)
Service Ceiling: 44,997 feet (13,715 meters; 8.52 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,935 feet-per-minute (590 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload


Global Operators (Customers, Users)

United States (cancelled)

Model Variants

YC-14 - Base Prototype Designation; two examples completed for testing.
Model 953 - Boeing company designator

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