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Fairchild C-123 Provider

Military Transport Aircraft

Fairchild C-123 Provider

Military Transport Aircraft


The C-123 Provider had a distinct design feature in that the system was powered by both turbojet and propeller engines.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1956
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Chase Aircraft / Fairchild Corporation - USA
OPERATORS: Brazil; Cambodia; El Salvador; Laos; Philippines; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Vietnam (South); Taiwan; Thailand; Venezuela; United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Fairchild C-123K Provider model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 78.48 feet (23.92 meters)
WIDTH: 110.01 feet (33.53 meters)
HEIGHT: 33.99 feet (10.36 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 35,367 pounds (16,042 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 59,525 pounds (27,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99W Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial piston engines developing 2,300 horsepower each; 2 x General Electric J85-GE-17 turbojet engines developing 2,850 lb of thrust each.
SPEED (MAX): 228 miles-per-hour (367 kilometers-per-hour; 198 knots)
RANGE: 1,035 miles (1,666 kilometers; 900 nautical miles)
CEILING: 28,871 feet (8,800 meters; 5.47 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,150 feet-per-minute (351 meters-per-minute)


Series Model Variants
• XCG-20 - Prototype Model Example; two produced by Chase Aircraft as military transport gliders.
• XG-20 - Redesignation of XCG-20 Prototypes
• XC-123 - Prototype Model based on XG-20 prototype; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-2800-23 engines of 2,200 horsepower.
• XC-123A - Prototype Model based on the XG-20 prototype; fitted with General Electric J47-GE-11 turbojet engines.
• C-123B - Based on the XC-123 prototype; fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99W engines of 2,300 horsepower; 307 examples produced between Fairchild Aircraft and Chase Aircraft (5).
• UC-123B - Based on the C-123B model series as a crop destroyer.
• VC-123C - Proposed VIP Transport Model based on the XC-123A; never produced.
• YC-123D - Single Experimental Example; improved short runway capabilities.
• YC-123E - Single Experimental Example; redesigned tail assembly and fuselage.
• YC-123H - Single Prototype Model Example; fitted with J85 rocket boosters; redesigned undercarriage.
• C-123J - C-132B conversion models featuring J44-R-3 rocket boosters; 10 examples.
• C-123K - C-123B conversion models featuring enlarged landing gear wheels and J85 series rocket boosters; 183 examples.
• AC-123K - C-132B conversion model; single production model; nighttime reconnaissance with specialized sensor equipment.
• NC-123K - C-132B conversion model; single production model; nighttime reconnaissance with specialized sensor equipment.
• HC-123B - Search & Rescue Variant (S&R) for United States Coast Guard usage.
• UC-123K - Thirty-Four C-123K conversion models for crop destroying.
• VC-123K - Based on the C-123K model; converted into VIP transport.
• YC-134 - Single Example Produced based on C-123B model series; redesigned landing gear system and other refinements.
• YC-134A - YC-134 model when fitted with "Pantobase" landing gear systems.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairchild C-123 Provider Military Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 7/10/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Fairchild C-123 Provider served as a twin-engined military transport aircraft for several air services of the world throughout the Cold War years. It was utilized to good effect by both American and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). One of the more unique aspects of the aircraft's design was its use of a combination propulsion scheme - traditional radial piston engines driving propellers and turbojet engines (mounted under the wing mainplanes) providing additional driving force for short take-off distances. The aircraft served from the mid-1950's into the late-1960's and formed a vital part of United States operations during the Vietnam conflict. Beyond the Untied States and South Vietnam, the product was also taken on in number by the forces of Brazil, Cambodia, El Salvador, Laos, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Venezuela. Within the U.S. military, the Provider was also fielded by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Coast Guard services.

On the whole, the C-123 utilized a typical transport configuration with a raised empennage, high-mounted wings for good ground clearance of the large-diameter propellers, and a low fuselage ground profile to ease loading / unloading actions. The standard operating crew numbered four personnel and a further 60 combat-ready troops could be carried aloft (or up to 50 medical litters or 24,000lb of cargo).

Drive power stemmed from 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99W series "Double Wasp" 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines producing 2,300 horsepower each, their nacelles held under the wings. This power was further augmented by the use of 2 x General Electric brand J85-GE-17 turbojet engines held outboard under the wings.

The actual design of the aircraft was by Chase Aircraft with serial manufacture completed by Fairchild Aircraft. Total production yielded 307 units.

The C-123 was originally conceived of as an all-metal military glider through the "XCG-20" prototype but gradually evolved into the engined derivative. The C-123 was later fielded in Vietnam where her Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) characteristics and rough-field operational qualities were much appreciated. With this practical wartime use at hand, the Provider series began to evolve into other specially-modified versions as needed that included night time operators (two converted in this fashion) and Search & Rescue (SAR) platforms (for the USCG) though it was primarily used as a supply transport servicing both American and South Vietnamese fighting elements. Some appeared VIP transport guises with the most notable being General William Westmoreland's "White Whale".

The C-123 is perhaps best known for its use in "Operation Ranch Hand" during the conflict, an initiative designed to defoliate parts of South Vietnam in an effort to remove undergrowth used as both cover and nutrition for the advancing North Vietnamese troops. This was particularly of importance in the Mekong Delta where United States Navy (USN) patrol boats increasingly ran the risk of well-hidden ambushes from river shorelines. Operation Ranch Hand revolved around the use of several types of herbicides produced by various corporations and included such names as "Agent Pink", "Agent Green", "Agent Purple", "Agent Blue", "Agent White" and "Agent Orange". Agent Orange is perhaps the most famous for the serious side effects brought about on its users (and recipients below) and was the most widely-used of the agents in the deforestation program. This particular agent was tainted with dioxin environmental pollutants and users/recipients were stricken with mysterious illnesses and generational defects even after the war had ended. A large supply of Agent Orange was manufactured in New Zealand and sent to Southeast Asia for use in the region. A small settlement was received by U.S. veterans in 1984 though no official recognition of the effects of Agent Orange were admitted by the US government with most of the presented cases. These "spraying" aircraft were usually noted by their "U" prefix in the designation.

The C-123 Provider went on to appear in various Hollywood motion pictures - taking center stage in several productions - including "Con Air" and "Air America". A silver C-123 Provider from the Vietnam conflict is on display at the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, USA.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (228mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Fairchild C-123K Provider's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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