The C-124 was the first strategic long-range airlifter. Nicknamed “Old Shaky” it was a major redesign of the C-74. The C-124 was developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company during 1947-1949 and was operational during the Korean War. It was also used to assist supply operations for Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. The C-124 was used to support troop build-ups in Europe during the 1961 Berlin Wall Crisis.
Our Globemaster is one of only eight C-124s in existence, and the only surviving A-model. It served in MATS, AFRES, SAC, and TAC.
In July 2005 the C-124 restoration project reached a major milestone. All of the work in preparation for assembling the major components paid off. Our volunteer crew lead by Col. Bill Hardie worked for several weeks with the pros from Worldwide Aircraft Recovery to assemble the wing center section to the fore and aft lower fuselage sections. Then they installed the fuselage upper section and installed about 5,000 rivets and bolts. After the forward loading ramps were installed, the clamshell doors were hung. The outboard wing sections have been installed as have all four engines and propellers. The wheels have been repacked and new tires installed. “Old Shaky” is sitting on her own gear again.
To facilitate out-sized cargo handling, the C-124 featured “clamshell” loading doors and hydraulic ramps in the nose and an elevator under the aft fuselage with electric overhead cranes (each with a capacity of 16,000 pounds) which could traverse the entire length of the 77-foot-long cargo compartment.
It was capable of handling such bulky cargo as tanks, field guns, bulldozers, and trucks (up to 74,000 pounds of cargo). It could also be converted into a transport capable of carrying 200 fully-equipped troops in its double-decked cabin or 123 litter patients and their attendants.
The first flight by a C-124 took place on 27 November 1949. The first operational aircraft were delivered in May 1950 and production ran through May 1955 (204 C-124As and 243 C-124Cs). The improved C-124C featured more powerful engines as well as wingtip-mounted combustion heaters that provided cabin heating and wing and tail surface deicing, and an APS-42 weather radar in a distinctive nose “thimble.” These latter improvements were eventually retrofitted to the C-124As.
These planes went on to provide much-needed airlift capability in the Korean War as it was the only aircraft that could carry many of the Army’s vehicles. It also performed many other missions such as airlift support in the Far East and Southeast Asia, resupply missions to Antarctica, refugee evacuation, disaster relief, and mercy flights. Although very reliable, the C-124s were slow (97 hours flight time from Travis AFB, California, to Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, and back).
Used in conjunction with Douglas C-133s, the Globemaster IIs remained in service until 1970 with the Military Airlift Command and 1974 with the Alaskan Air Command along with the Air National Guard and Reserves.