C-119G Flying Boxcar

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.


Serial Number: 22118 (RCAF)
Fairchild Aircraft
First Flight:
17 November 1947
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, loadmaster
Payload: 30,000 lbs; or 62 troops; or 35 stretchers
Powerplant: 2x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-20 OR 2x Wright R-3350-85 Duplex Cyclone radials
86 ft 6 in
109 ft 3 in
26 ft 6 in
Empty Weight:
40,000 lbs
Loaded Weight:
64,000 lbs
Maximum Speed:
296 mph
Cruise Speed:
250 mph
Range: 2,280 mi
Service Ceiling: 23,900 ft
AMC Museum Restoration Crew Chief: Charlie Tanner

Assignment History

The assignment history for the Air Mobility Command Museum's C-119G Flying Boxcar, serial number 22118 (RCAF):

Date Location
15 Apr 1953 Transferred to Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
16 Apr 1953 to 436 Squadron, Air Transport Command (ATC), RCAF Dorval, Montreal, Quebec
Dec 1955 to 4 Operation Training Unit, RCAF Dorval, Montreal, Quebec
22 Nov 1956 to 114 Communications FLight, Capodichino, Italy (United Nations Forces in Egypt); flew shuttle flights between Capodichino and Abu Sueir, Egypt, during Suez Crisis
Apr 1957 to 10 Technical Services Detachment, Edmonton, Alberta (received AN/APS-42 radar in an enlarged nose); returned to 114th Communications Flight after modifications completed
Apr 1958 Transferred to 436 Squadron, Air Transport Command, RCAF Downsview, Ottawa, Ontario
Oct 1962 to Central Experimental and Proving Establishment, RCAF Downsview, Ottawa, Ontario
25 Aug 1965 transferred to the Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (CADC) for storage and sale
1969 Sold to Hawkins & Powers, Greybull, WY, registered N3559 (Hawkins & Power A/C #137) and converted to aerial tanker for firefighting
20 Mar 1972 Steward-Davis Jet-Pak 3402 (Westinghouse J-34 jet engine) installed above fuselage
Oct 1991 Flown to Air Mobility Command Museum (then Dover AFB Museum), Dover AFB, Delaware
Summer 2004 Restoration began
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I finished jump school at Ft. Benning on June 5, 1970. All 5 of my jumps were in a C-119 just across the Alabama line. It was amazing to hear the roar of those engines and feel the air rushing over you before your stick jumped. Just a great start before Green Beret training at Ft. Bragg. De Oppresso Liber!

I was crew chief on C-119J #9045 at Hamilton AFB, June 1967 – May 1969. Our nine ‘Js’ had been resurrected from the boneyard after a previous life snatching satellites out of the sky. Those two years were the best of my 20 year career.

Interesting about snagging satellites. I was an assistant crew chief with EB-47E that gave coordates to the C-119 crew that recovered our first satellite. It was in base ops window at Hickam after recovery.

Was at Ft Campbell in the summer of 1963. A group of C-119s were there flying troops for training. One aircraft lost its starboard engine at about 50/75 feet at the end of the runway. The plane rolled dramatically up and to the right….good training and expert piloting brought the ship down on its wheels. It sat there for weeks before being towed to a parking area where it sat for months. Flying in one during the winter was an experience to avoid.

My wife Uncle was killed in Germany in the 1955 midair collision near the Black Forest. We are trying to find what tail number he was on when the accident occurred. His name was Daniel Sanchez . He was with the 499 Engineers. Anyone with information would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry I’m late to the discussion: I find two C-119s involved, colliding- listed are 53-3222 with 19 casualties- killed. *And: 53-7841, with 49 casualties killed. Not 100% sure on the casualty count vs each aircraft- Daniel Sanchez was s/n US 54 145 328. Co.A of 499 Engineer Battalion. The crash was listed as 1-mile west of Edelweiler Germany. 11 August 1955

On average what was the fuel consumption per hour for the C-119K? I have heard multable answers as 5 pounds per hour, 15, and twenty? Which it true. I am a novelist. I need to know for a up coming book. Check me out on Amazon book section. Thanks
jerrykr7kz at aol.com

In 1963 I was TDY from Ft. Bragg to Ft. Sam Houston. Twice during my months at Ft Sam, we jumped from C-119s to maintain our jump status. As I remember, the planes we jumped were assigned to an Air National Guard unit. I believe we flew out of Kelly Field and remember that our DZ was the then-closed Camp Gary. They dropped us over the concrete runway.

One jump was uneventful. The other one saw our plane struggle to gain elevation. The side doors were open on takeoff and I could look out and watch the ground. The plane engines were making a sound strange enough to catch the attention of the GIs on board. We became concerned when the Air Force crew chief started running to the door to look out (at the engines?). Then, things settled down and the plan began gaining altitude.

In jump school we were trained in the event of being hung up on the tail to signal whether we wanted to be cut loose to use our reserve chute or to not so signal and then to ride the plane down to landing upon a foamed runway. Supposedly, this was geared particularly towards the C-119.

Those two jumps were my only experience with the C-119 and I thereafter didn’t miss that plane one bit.

I was a flight Engineer on the C-119 Aircraft during the Years 1958 thru 1964. I served during the Cuban Crisis and when not on flight assignments we made many touch and go landings. Served at Lackland AFB, Texas, and served at Shepard AFB at Wichita Falls, Texas. Completed six years of service.. stationed also at Willow Grove Navel Air Station in Pennsylvania and Coraopolis International Air Base in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We had R-4360 engines with three PRT’s (Power Recovery Turbines) on each engine. Flew in formations from Pennsylvania to Travis Air Force Base, California, and to Shaw AFB, South Carolina.

Last edited 3 years ago by AMC Museum

I was a radio operator on the C119 in 1953 to 1957 at Smyrna, TN, Charleston, SC, Johnson AFB in Japan and Pope AFB, NC. Flew 1143 hours. Was able to fly over all the states, landed in most, except Hawaii; had to wave that one from a troop ship on the way to Japan. Made trips to many Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Canada, Japan, Okinawa, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and a few I may have forgotten. Had a few close encounters that could have ended in tragedies. Got to experience winter type conditions in Anchorage, Alaska for a month; summer time in Fairbanks for a month landing up and down a mountain radar station. I enjoyed flying and kept two B4 bags ready for back to back flights. Round-robin flights were okay, especially on a snowy day above the clouds watching snow cover the grounds below. On a cold day in Tennessee, to land in warm Florida. I was getting close to re-enlistment when the C119s were being replaced by the C130s. On leave, I made eye contact with the girl I ended up marrying; love at first sight! I decided I would return to college and raise a family in civilian life. I thought the C130 would not need a radio operator; I later found out I could have continued as a radio operator until I retired. Later, I understand that the C130 no longer needed a radio operator or a navigator. My son graduated as a civil engineer and spent 38 years as an engineer at Lockheed/Martin in Georgia in the C130 program, retiring two years ago. I’ve met lots of people who had experienced the C119 and C130 airplanes. Lots of paratroopers as well. Glad I served.

Is the pictured C-119 that was “rescued” from somewhere in the Southwest and then restored? My Dad, Lt. Col. Royal S. Thompson was the squadron commander of the squadron that flew this plane during the Battle of the Chosin Reservior. He and his squad flew many, many supply missions, sometimes non-stop in a 24 hour period. He also volunteered his squadron to drop the Treadway bridge sections from the air to repair a bridge blown up by the Chinese. The successful operation allowed some 15,000 Marines and Army infantry to move southward, crossing the chasm to eventual safety. The 69th anniversary of this operation is only about 2 weeks away – Dec. 7. Would so love to come see this warbird up close.

My Dad was on the ground with the Marines of the 7th Regiment under the command of Col Litzenberg. He told me stories of the C-119’s dropping supplies and how he wished he was in the USAF!

Growing up on a farm in northwest Pennsylvania during the Vietnam War era we would see formations of C-119’s flying so low that we (as kids) thought for certain they could hit our silo. I recently noticed that our farm was situated on a direct path from Fort Drum to Wright Patterson AFB, although I don’t know for certain where they took off from nor landed. I can easily imagine they were carrying personnel and supplies making their way to Nam, but does anyone know for sure?

I was a flight engineer on the C-119G aircraft and was stationed at WGNAS in Pennsylvania. We had our training sessions at Niles, Ohio and had formations that probably flew over your area making simulated air drops with the “slingshot drop system” and there was a big lake on the Pennsy/Ohio border that we obviously used as a landmark flying north to south. Beautiful country out that way. The formations were usually at low altitude on the approach and drop zones. That was back in the 1960s. I had just shy of 1,000 hours in the air back then.

I was a loadmaster on C-119 in the 349th Troop Carrier Squadron USAFRes at Hamilton AFB when we were called to active duty in the Cuban Missile Crisis. I lost my fear in my first flight when my boss, who was standing at the end of the floor with the clamshell doors off at about 15,000 feet motioned me to walk back and join him which I did.

It took us three days to get to Pope AFB because we flew first to Sacramento, then March AFB where we overnited, then Little Rock AFB where we also overnited, and finally Pope. One night there they woke us up at 3 a.m. and told us to report to our planes. I knew things were serious when I heard one Captain tell the guy filling the wing tanks “make sure you have enough gas to get to Cuba.”

In spring of 1963 we went to Boise for UTA and when not flying was assigned to drive a 6-ton wrecker we used to retrieve the pallets with six 55-gallon drums with water that were air dropped.

Had another scary moment when the pilot asked me to stay aboard for a single-engine takeoff and landing at Hamilton. Upon takeoff I noticed smoke out of #2 engine and notified the pilot. He said it was probably oil smoke. Then, when we turned for final approach, I saw fire out of #1. Tower had also noticed flames and had foam on the runway.

Alan Hardman, it may have been us.

I served as an aircraft electrician 42370 from 1969/1975 with the 129th ANG in Hayward, CA. The unit had C-119s and a small one seat U-10 aircraft made by Helio. On unit summer camps I flew to Pope AFB, NC, Traverse city, MI and several time to Boise, ID. I enjoyed working on them as most of the electrical work was out in the open although I think I spent more time safety wiring cannons plugs and changing batteries than doing electrical work. I looked forward to every UTA (Unit Training Assembly). I remember a better time and enjoyed the plane called Flying Boxcar although most referred to it as 10,000 rivet’s flying in formation. -Sgt K.J.Freeman.

I, too, am curious about the 3350 /4360 choices. I am not familiar with any other AF aircraft that has such dramatically different engine displacements, all being on the same model, just built by different manufacturers. Vmca was a tough lesson taught by the C-119 and I am pretty certain it would be quite different with the different powerplants. The rudder areas did not change, with manufacturers. The 4360 enjoyed a little better reputation for reliability than the 3350 at one time, but to complete a KWRB-Reife-Dakar-Recife-KWRB with all four always turning on the C-124 with the 4360, was an anomaly. Is there a C-119 model designation that tells the specific engine used? Were the F’s only built by Kaiser? The “satellite catcher” in the National Museum of the Air Force has 3350s. That was still a far cry away in power from the old 2800’s on the C-82. As a kid I know Fairchild referred to the 119 as the “Packet” in its PR pictures. That, of course, was the Canadian choice of names, and may have been a limited reference. In the NMUSAF, only the C-82 is referred to as “Packet”.

I went to jump school at Benning, January,1967. All five of my jumps were from a C- 119. One stick out each door. I made a few trips as a passanger during the mid sixties and early seventies with the Pittsburgh Air National Guard.


The C-119 had disc brakes on the main gear. A circular group of metal pad-like rotors, connected together, that were fitted into slots on the holder assy on the hub

My grandpa was involved in a accident involving a c119 that crashed in a field near I home in pine creek near swan valley.4 men froze to death taking upto 10 days to recover some of the body’s in the Wasatch mt.in utah.anyone here have any info to that???cliggett1973@yahoo.com PLEASE help me find more info thanks.

I was a radio operator on c-119’s in 53 &54 @ Mitchell in N.Y. & Sewart in TN. went to Fairchild & Kaiser to pick up new aircraft. Kaiser was always 2 or 3 models behind Fairchild the early models all had 4360’s later models all had 3350 compounds. F &G models by Fairchild had a monorail & bomb bay doors

I was reading the information about the C-119 . I was a flight engineer on the C-119G at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. I have more that 1,500 hours in the bird. The power plant was W3350-89A . The airplanes did not have the R4360-20. The plane that had that engine was the C-124,because I was a flight engineer on that airplane also.

Thank you

Dennis Jacobs

Dennis, I suspect you may have had some involvement in some of my adolescent memories! Sometime during the early-to-mid ’60s, I saw many, many formations of C-119s overfly my home in SW Idaho. They invariably flew in a wnw direction, appearing to be flying from the Mountain Home/Boise area and continuing over the horizon toward Portland or maybe Seattle/Tacoma. IIRC, the formations ranged from 12 to 24 aircraft, sometimes multiple formations per day. Was that you?

Dennis I’d like to talk to you . please email me at cliggett1973@yahoo.com