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CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan

United States (1950)
Picture of CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform
Picture of CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform Picture of CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform
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The CONVAIR twin-engine C-131 aircraft was utilized by both the United States Air Force and United States Navy after its arrival in 1950.


Detailing the development and operational history of the CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform.  Entry last updated on 4/22/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

CONVAIR introduced its CV-240 passenger airliner in 1947 with American Airlines and production of this aircraft eventually reached 1,181 units up until 1954. In time, the company was able to sell a modified transport line of this same product to the US military which took them under the designation of C-131 "Samaritan". The new transport was introduced in 1950 and managed a healthy production total of 512 units before being retired in 1990. It went on to serve the United States Air Force (USAF), United States Navy (USN) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) as well as a single example sent to the Paraguayan Air Force. The CV-340 was another related CONVAIR airliner model which influenced some of the later Samaritan variants. These featured a lengthened fuselage, wider wings and improved-power radial engines.

The C-131 was a highly conventional aircraft for the period, featuring a pair of leading edge engine nacelles along slightly-swept, low-mounted main wing appendages. The fuselage was tubular with a forward-set cockpit aft of a short nose assembly. The fuselage then tapered somewhat to form the empennage to which a large-area vertical tail fin was affixed. Low-set horizontal planes completed the tail unit. Windows dotted the sides of the passenger cabin. The aircraft sat atop a wheeled tricycle arrangement, a departure from the "tail dragger" designs of previous years. The main legs, held under the engine nacelles, utilized two wheels as did the nose leg held under the cockpit floor. This configuration gave the Samaritan a pronounced stance and allowed for proper clearance of the large, spinning propeller blades at each engine. A typical crew numbered four with passenger seating able to total some 48 persons. Power was served through 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99 "Double Wasp" radial pistol engines of 2,500 horsepower each and driving three-bladed propeller assemblies. This provided a maximum speed of 295 miles per hour with a cruising speed closer to 255 miles per hour. Range was listed at 450 miles with a service ceiling of 24,500 feet and rate-of-climb of 1,400 feet per second.

The C-131 was first delivered to the USAF in 1954 and followed the similar T-29 "Flying Classroom" training platforms which had already operated since 1949. Flying Classrooms were used to train navigator crew, bombardiers and radar operators in the finer points of their craft while in an active aerial setting. The C-131, on the other hand, was utilized by the USAF as a MEDEVAC platform capable of hauling patient litters and medical staff. When appropriately modified with seating, it also served as a general passenger hauler. Four C-131s served (temporarily) in the VIP transport role under the designation of VC-131H. Other C-131 airframes were used in evaluation roles/conversion programs to fulfill roles such as fixed-wing gunship testing, photo-reconnaissance, electronics training and the like.

Notable variants of the entire C-131 line including the C-131A, C-131B, C-131D, C-131F, T-29A, T-29C and T-29D. C-131A models were passenger haulers based on the CONVAIR CV-240 with seating for thirty-nine and 26 units built in all. The C-131B followed suit and added elements of the succeeding CV-340 model and with seating for forty-eight across 36 total examples manufactured. The C-131D was a militarized CV-340 with seating for forty-four and 33 were produced. The C-131F was the USN R4Y-1 (C-131A) under a new designation. The T-29A was the initial trainer model with an unpressurized cabin and workstations for fourteen students - some 46 airframes being produced. The T-29C followed the T-29B with its pressurized cabin and powered by 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-29W series radials of 2,500 horsepower. 119 examples were produced of this type. The T-29D served as a bombardier training platform based on the T-29C with workstations for six. 93 were produced.

The USAF and USN both used the C-131 and T-29 variants (original USN C-131s were known as "R4Y"). Ultimately, ex-USN units made their way into the USCG inventory when twenty-two of the type were transferred under the HC-131A designation for Search And Rescue (SAR) duty. These were painted in the usual USCG red and white scheme. In USAF operations, the C-131 was eventually given up for the more modern, jet-powered McDonnell Douglas C-9 "Nightingale" (essentially converted DC-9 airliners).

Despite their age, several C-131s and T29s have been preserved in indoor and outdoor museums across the United States.


Picture of the CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform
Picture of the CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform



Any available statistics for the CONVAIR C-131 / R4Y Samaritan MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform 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).






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 (293mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the CONVAIR CV-240 Samaritan's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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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
512
512


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1950
Type: MEDEVAC / VIP Transport / Trainer Platform
Manufacturer(s): CONVAIR - USA
Production: 512
Global Operators:
Paraguay; United States
Historical 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 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 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
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the CONVAIR CV-240 Samaritan model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
79.07 ft


Meters
24.1 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
105.31 ft


Meters
32.1 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
28.08 ft


Meters
8.56 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
25,441 lb


Kilograms
11,540 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
46,998 lb


Kilograms
21,318 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99W Double Wasp 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,100 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
293 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
471 kph


Knots
254 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,650 mi


Kilometers
2,655 km


Nautical Miles
1,434 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
45,997 ft


Meters
14,020 m


Miles
8.71 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,520 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
463 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• C-131 "Samaritan" - Base Series Designation
• C-131A - Initial passenger transport model for USAF; 26 examples.
• MC-131A - MEDEVAC C-131A up to 1962
• VC-131 - VIP C-131A up to 1962
• C-131B - Based on CV-240/CV-340 with increased seating capacity; 36 examples produced.
• JC-131B - Missile Tracking Platform based on the C-131B model; six converted as such.
• NC-131B - C-131B used for testing
• VC-131B - C-131B staff transport
• YC-131C - Testbed CV-340 models with Allison 501D-13 series engines.
• C-131D - CV-340 model with seating for 44; 33 examples completed.
• VC-131D - C-131D as staff transport
• C-131E - SAC electronic countermeasures platform; 15 examples with two USN transfers and single C-131D model conversion.
• TC-131E - Redesignation of C-131E
• C-131F - Redesignation of USN R4Y-1
• RC-131F - Six C-131F models converted to photo-reconnaissance platforms.
• VC-131F - Redesignation of R4YZ
• C-131G - Redesignation of R4Y-2
• EC-131G - Single conversion of C-131G for electronics training.
• RC-131G - Single C-131G modified for airways observation.
• VC-131G - Staff transport version of C-131G
• C-131H - Conversions of some C-131s with turboprop engines and CV-540 model standards.
• NC-131H - Single conversion for in-flight simulation training.
• R4Y-1 - USN CV-340 models; 36 produced
• R4Y-1Z - USN staff transport
• R4Y-2 - USN C-131E models
• R4T-2Q - Proposed radar countermeasures platform based on R4Y-2 models.
• R4Y-2S - Proposed ASW trainer
• XT-29 - Proposed trainer based on CV-240 for USAF
• T-29A - Flying Classroom; unpressurized cabin
• VT-29A - Staff transport
• T-29B - Flying Classroom; pressurized cabin
• NT-29B - Single testbed model
• VT-29B - Staff transport
• T-29C - Fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-29W model engines; 119 examples.
• AT-29C - T-29C for airways observation
• ET-29C - Redesignated AT-29C
• VT-29C - T-29C staff transport
• T-29D - Bombardier training platform; 93 examples.
• ET-29D - Airways observation platform based on T-29D.
• VT-29D - Staff transport
• XT-29E - Proposed turboprop model of the T-29B
• YT-32- Proposed bomber crew training platform
• HC-131A - USCG SAR model; 22 examples