The Flying Boxcar was developed by Fairchild in the 1940s as a specialized military freight aircraft for the U.S. Army. From the 1940s and into the late 1960s, the C-119 was modified and redesigned as new technologies and uses evolved. Our boxcar is a G, the last major production model, powered with Wright R-3350 engines. Four hundred eighty-four were built. It was used by the Royal Canadian Air Force, as a fire bomber by Hawkins & Powers Aviation, and in the Richard Dreyfuss movie Always.
The C-119 Flying Boxcar, developed from the Fairchild C-82 Packet, was a twin-engine, twin-boom, twin-tail transport designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by parachute (utilizing its “clamshell” cargo doors at the rear of the cabin).
The first C-119 made its maiden flight in November 1947 and by the time production ceased in 1955, more than 1,150 C-119s had been built. The USAF used the airplane extensively during the Korean Conflict as a transport. In South Vietnam, the airplane once again entered combat, this time in the ground support role as the AC-119G “Shadow” and AC-119K “Stinger” gunships mounting side-firing weapons capable of unleashing up to 6,000 rounds per minute per gun. When acting as a transport, the C-119 could carry up to 62 fully equipped troops or a 30,000 pound cargo load. Perhaps the Boxcar’s most notable feat happened when it made the world’s first mid-air recovery of a capsule returning from outer space. This occurred southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii, on 19 August 1960 when it snagged the chute attached to the Discovery XIV satellite at an altitude of 8,000 feet.