The Boeing YC-14 tactical airlifter prototype met USAF expectations but the service moved in another direction - leaving just two examples completed.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from the Public Domain.
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.
[ 2 Units ] : Boeing Company - USA
United States (cancelled)
- X-Plane / Developmental
131.73 ft (40.15 m)
129.00 ft (39.32 m)
48.39 ft (14.75 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Boeing YC-14 production model)
117,749 lb (53,410 kg)
250,996 lb (113,850 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Boeing YC-14 production model)
2 x General Electric CF6-50D turbofan engines developing 51,000lb of thrust each.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Boeing YC-14 production model)
503 mph (810 kph; 437 kts)
44,997 feet (13,715 m; 8.52 miles)
3,191 miles (5,135 km; 2,773 nm)
1,935 ft/min (590 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Boeing YC-14 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Boeing YC-14 production model)
YC-14 - Base Prototype Designation; two examples completed for testing.
Model 953 - Boeing company designator
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