C-131D Samaritan

Serial Number: 55-295

Our Samaritan has run the gamut. It started out as a staff plane for the Air University and ended its service as a South Carolina Air National Guard general’s plane. It was also the museum’s first “flyable” aircraft. This short to medium range transport was stationed at Dover Air Force Base in its T-29 version.


The C-131 Samaritan is the military version of the Convair 240/340/440 series of twin-engine commercial airliners. The first Samaritan, a C-131A derived from the Convair 240, was delivered to the Air Force in 1954. It was primarily used by the USAF for aero medical casualty evacuation. The C-131A had large loading doors for stretchers or cargo and was equipped to accommodate 27 stretchers or 37 sitting casualties. In later years, some Samaritans were converted to be used as VIP staff transports under the designation VC-131H.

The first prototype of the Southeast Asia vintage side-firing gunship program used the C-131 airframe.

Nearly all of the USAF’s C-131s left the active inventory in the late-1970s, with a few still serving in Air National Guard units until the mid-1980s.


  • Manufacturer: Convair
  • First Flight: 22 September 1949
  • Retired: 1990
  • Crew: Four
  • Payload: 48 passengers
  • Length: 79 ft 2 in
  • Wingspan: 105 ft 4 in
  • Height: 28 ft 2 in
  • Empty Weight: 29,248 lbs
  • Loaded Weight: 47,000 lbs
  • Powerplant: 2x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99 radials
  • Maximum Speed: 293 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 254 mph
  • Range: 450 mi
  • Service Ceiling: 24,500 ft
Assignment History

The assignment history for the Air Mobility Command Museum's C-131D Samaritan, serial number 55-295:

Date Location
Dec 1954 To 3800th Air Base Wing (Air University), Maxwell AFB, AL
Jun 1975 To 155th Tactical Reconnaissance Group (Air National Guard), Lincoln Municipal Airport, NE
Mar 1976 To 169th Tactical Fighter Group (ANG), McEntire ANGB, SC
Mar 1983 Remained with the 169th TFG at McEntire ANGB, SC


  • Charles Hough CMSgt ret

    Reply to Merrill Wilson’s comment. All T 29 and C 131s had tricycle gear. None had a tail wheel.
    T 29A was primarily a Nav trainer with several stations for Navigators . The plane was not pressurized and had 2 R 2800-97W engines
    T 29B also a Nav trainer but was Pressurized and had air Conditioning 2 R 2800-97W
    T 29C A special designed trainer with a “Pit” located in the cargo area with a mock up Nordon Bomb sight set up 2 R 2800-99W engines
    T 29D still designed as a Nav trainer plus the Abbreviated Nordon position. Preferred model to modify for VIP passengers 2 R 2800-99W
    C 131 A Designed for Med Evac operations. Basically a T 29B with a Cargo door for litters, 2 R 2800-97W Entrance doorstairs on RH side
    C 131 B Test bed plane with large Generator Pods on belly. Large Cargo door LH Rear, Entrance door LH Forward. 2 R 2800-103 W engines
    C 131 C/D basic Cargo carrier with large Cargo door LH rear, Pax door LH forward
    Note: USAF had a special Convair designed as a VIP plane Although later designated as a VC 131 A, it was a T 29B when it rolled off the assy line. It went directly to the Modification process of installing a full Galley for a flight Steward. It had special seating with VIP work tables that doubled for small conferences. A bed was also installed for en-route use. A special Gas powered Generator was installed in the belly to provide starting power for engines. Other amenities included a small safe, private lavatory. Entrance door same as T 29B RH side Fwd. Engines were R 2800-99 W.
    Only 4 VC 131 A’s were made. One crashed in S America. Location of 2 others unknown, However I was fortunate to be the Crew Chief and FE on the 4th plane at Eglin AFB. Tail # 51-5127 Transferred from Eglin to the Alaska State Gov. I loved that plane….

  • Merrell Wilson

    We had about 8 C-131 and 8 T-29; I think, at Andrews AFB in 1968….which had about 40 Seats in them
    and the Headquarters Command headrest cover with the WH emblem on it in Blue and Gold trim.
    1002 Org. Maint. Squadron. I had a ‘Run-Up’ license for them; which meant I could run-up and check the
    engines on the ground. I was on an extra engine inspection crew on the flight line; which double-checked
    the engines and had them spotless….like new car engines. As I remember the C-131 had a nose wheel
    setup with its cockpit level; while the T-29 would set on its tail wheel with it’s cockpit ‘up’.
    You had to have two screwdrivers to put the firewall behind the engine back on with it’s 100 zeus fasteners;
    One screwdriver was a gigantic 3 or 4 feet long to wedge against the engine metal braces to force the fire
    shield against the zeus fasteners; while you used another large screwdriver of a foot long to turn the zeus
    fasteners and click them into locked position. The manual said you could only have about 3 not fastened.
    the first time anybody tried to put one of these back on…they usually failed…..HA!


    I was assigned at Dover from 1973 to 1978, working first at base flight then transient alert/en route. From what I can remember we had two T-29 aircraft assigned to base flight. The first one was a T-29A model tail number # 1941 and the second one was a T-29C model tail # can;t remember. We lost the first aircraft in 1975 to the boneyard, second one I think in early 1976. Transferred to transient alert in 1975 working for then Msgt Bruce Keyser. Good times and good friends

  • Was this C-131 in service at Dover AFB and housed in the “Black Hanger’ back in 1969 to 1973 when I was stationed at Dover and assigned to the 436 FMS JEBU?? If it is, I recall a SSGT David Palmer and a crew assigned to him doing a complete overhaul of both engines on the plane in the “Black Hanger.” Colonel Reynolds was Squadron Commander of the 436 FMS at the time of the overhaul

    It also was nicknamed “Base Bomber”

    • Although Dover AFB had the T-29 variant, our C-131 (#55-295) never had the chance to call Dover home. Between December 1954 to June 1975 it was with the 3800th Air Base Wing (Air University) at Maxwell AFB, AL.

      You can view the rest of the aircraft’s assignment history just above the comment section.

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