This week’s plane of the week is the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar.
The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was an American military transport aircraft developed from the World War II-era Fairchild C-82 Packet, designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by parachute. The first C-119 made its first flight in November 1947, and by the time production ceased in 1955, more than 1,100 C-119s had been built.
The Air Force C-119 was initially a redesign of the earlier C-82 Packet, built between 1945 and 1948. The Packet provided service to the Air Force’s Tactical Air Command and Military Air Transport Service for nearly nine years during which time it was discovered to be severely underpowered and structurally insufficient for the loads it was designed to carry. Whoops.
In contrast to the C-82, the cockpit was moved forward to fit flush with the nose rather than its previous location over the cargo compartment. This resulted in more cargo space and larger loads than the C-82 could carry. The C-119 also featured more powerful engines, and a wider and stronger airframe. They could have saved time and money by just doing all that in the first place, but I guess they didn’t look over their design carefully enough.
The C-82 was designed so that vehicles could be easily driven up the ramp in the back and into the cargo hold. To do this, they built it with twin tails like the P-38 Lightning. The tails were attatched to the engines on the wings and were set 14 feet off the ground so even tall vehicles could drive into the hold. This design was carried over into the C-119 and its gunship counterpart, the AC-119. This part of the design was really the only thing that made it remarkable enough to write about. I think it would be interesting to see a modern cargo plane with a tail like that, but they all use high-set tail wings and don’t need it.
Next week: The “star” of the World War II US Air Force. Well, not really.