C-7A Caribou

Serial Number: 63-9760

The C-7 Caribou was flown to the museum in 1992. While tracing its history, it was found that the plane was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, from 1969 to 1970. Museum volunteer, Col. Bill Hardie, researched his flight records of the time he spent at Cam Ranh Bay and found that he and the plane were old buddies.

In Vietnam the Caribou was used to re-supply fighting forces in-country because of its unique ability to fly in and out of camps on short, unimproved airstrips. The museum’s ‘bou is restored to its Vietnam-era appearance. In addition to its Vietnam service, this C-7 also served time with the Army’s Golden Knights Parachute Team.

Mission

The C-7 was used to move people and materiel into forward areas, where short, unprepared strips were the norm. They were almost always operated under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) or “Special VFR,” but were fully equipped instrument aircraft. Typical cargoes were fuel (gasoline, diesel fuel, and JP-4), munitions (small arms ammunition, 2.75 inch aircraft rockets, 105mm, 155mm, 175mm, and 8-inch howitzer projectiles), food (widely varying from American steak and chicken, to live pigs, chickens, ducks, and eels for the Army of the Republic of Vietnam troops), passengers (U.S. military, Republic of Vietnam military and civilians, and even North Vietnamese Army POWs), and sadly, bodies. Most of the destination airstrips of the C-7 in the 1971 time period were along the borders of Laos and Cambodia with South Vietnam and were firebases or Special Forces outposts (U.S., ARVN, and Montagnard). The Caribou was a workhorse that went from sunrise to sunset every day operating in the heat, humidity, dust, and mud from the low-lying Vietnamese Mekong Delta to the towering mountain regions of the Central Highlands.

The C-7 could accommodate up to 32 passengers, 26 fully equipped paratroops, 20 litter patients, or an 8,740 pound cargo load.

Gallery

  • Manufacturer: de Havilland Canada
  • First Flight: 30 July 1958
  • Retired: 1980s
Specifications
  • Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, loadmaster
  • Payload: 8,740 lbs; or 32 passengers; or 26 paratroops; or 20 litter patients
  • Length: 72 ft 7 in
  • Wingspan: 95 ft 7 in
  • Height: 31 ft 10 in
  • Empty Weight: 16,920 lbs
  • Loaded Weight: 28,500 lbs
  • Powerplant: 2x Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7M2 radials
  • Maximum Speed: 215 mph
  • Cruise Speed: 121 mph
  • Range: 1,380 mi
  • Service Ceiling: 24,800 ft
Assignment History

The assignment history for the Air Mobility Command Museum's C-7A Caribou, serial number 63-9760:

Date Location
1 Jan 1967 To 483rd Troop Carrier Wing (Pacific Air Forces), Cam Ranh Bay AB, South Vietnam
21 Apr 1968 to 6200th Material Wing (PACAF), Clark AB, Philippines
22 Apr 1968 to 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing (PACAF), Cam Ranh Bay AB, South Vietnam
6 May 1968 Deployed to Clark AB, Philippines
6 May 1968 to 6200th Material Wing (PACAF), Clark AB, Philippines
18 Mar 1970 to 19th Tactical Fighter Wing (PACAF), Kadena AB, Okinawa
20 Mar 1970 to 483rd Tactical Fighter Wing (PACAF), Cam Ranh Bay AB, South Vietnam
30 Sep 1977 to 357th Tactical Airlift Squadron (ANG), Maxwell AFB, Alabama
3 Aug 1983 Dropped from the USAF inventory by transfer to the US Army, Maxwell AFB, Alabama

27 Comments

  • Melvin “Charlie” Steadman

    I was a USAF 834th Air Division TALO/TALA (Tactical Airlift Liasson Officer/Airman) attached to the 9th Infantry Division at Bearcat RVN. Our daily support for airlifting troops and supplies to forward bases at Dong Tam and Tan An was provided by C-7A aircraft from Vong Tau (535/536 TAS). During TET 1968 I sometimes had to “borrow” aircraft from other units to meet mission requirements. A special thanks to the 9th Inf Div for providing airtight security around my dirt patch.

    Later in my career flew as a radio operator on EC-135C/L, E-4A/B, C-135B, and VC-9C.

    Still have a warm spot for the Caribou. Best job I ever had. Can’t say much for the location!

  • My first jumpmaster duty after the jm course was a C-7 about 1979. I was with 10SFG out of Ft Devens. A wing or squadron of NG C7 pilots needed airborne missions so we were busy putting a few troopers into dropzones in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
    It was a pretty good experience for my first time jumpmastering.

  • I was on a “Caribou” for a flight from an airbase somewhere near Fort Myer, VA where I was stationed, to Fort Bragg , North Carolina. I was a member of an Army dance band that was being flown to play at an officer’s club for some special occasion. On the return trip, I was not feeling very well and I knew I was going to be airsick, so I asked the co-pilot, who was looking out the side windows to check on the engines, where the airsickness bags were located. The band was split between two planes and his reply was that all of the airsickness bags were all on the other plane. I told him that he’d better find something for me really quick or he’d have a mess to clean up later. A minute later I saw him walk from the cockpit through the plane carrying a 2 pound coffee can filled with cigarette butts. He calmly walked to the rear, opened up the “jump ramp” enough that he could dump the can’s contents into the slipstream and then handed the can to me —- JUST in time ! The plane ride was so rough that I kept banging the bridge of my nose on its edge and it was sore for days ! One of my friends, an alto sax player, told me a few days later that the only thing that kept him from being as airsick as I was was the fact that I had the ONLY coffee can !! Those were the days !!!

  • Bennie E Hudson

    Why is there never anything mentioned on the 483rd TAWG-Combat Crew Training School (CCTS)-Forward Operating Location (FOL) C7A (October 1971 – August 1972) @ Phang Rang US AB (3 mos.) and then we were relocated to Phu Cat AB (8 mos.), about conducting training from day 1 to completion, of the South Vietnamese Pilots & Co-Pilots, trained to fly the C7A in country by American Pilots vs. it all being done in Dyess AB, TX.? We also did regular US Re-Supply & Troop sorties, to all types of US Firebases, during this training, at the same time!

    Lt. Col. Ferguson (8) mos. and Lt. Col. Caudle (3 mos.), were our commanders during this time of the 483rd TAWG-CCTS- FOL. We had very sharp Pilots, Operation Staff and a cracker box group of Maintenance & Support personnel, second to none. At Phu Cat AB, we were on an “all South Vietnamese” ran airbase. There was a group of US Army Advisory Team personnel and other advisors @ Phu Cat AB, totaling about 250, plus, our 85 from the 483rd TAWG-CCTS-FOL, assigned from the 483rd TAWG C7A wing out of Cam Ranh Bay AB.

  • I got to Cam Ranh July 67 to 68. Started in docks then got transfered to Red Tail 458. It was my first base out of school. It was a easy plane to maintain . The only job I hated was changing that deicer boot on wing. Must have been half a million screws holding it on.

  • Larry Sullivan

    Was part of the crew that got the caribous ready for check flights FCF after coming out of the docks at Cam Ranh 70-71. Worked under CMSGT Brady, great man. Also did TDY in Can Tho. Great plane but hated working on those aug-tubes.

  • Duane Strickland

    I was a loadmaster at Cam Ranh Bay in 1969. I left Dec 24 and was discharged.

  • In Fall 1967, I remember reading a Stars and Stripes article about a C-7A clipping the top of a tree during a short field takeoff, and flying back to Saigon with the tree stuck in his right wing. Anybody remember that?

  • I qualified as a jumpmaster on a C7A out of Maxwell AFB in 1982. Aircraft was assigned to the 20th SFGA at this time.

  • My father, Lt Col Merten L Meader also flew the C7 out of Cam Ranh Bay in 70/71. If anyone remembers him I’d love to hear from you. He only told me two stories about flying. One was while he was flying he had his arm out the window and was looking down and saw a man in black pajamas. The man stated to shoot so he got out of there. The other story made him upset because he was on a mission with supplies for the troops. But when they got there, there was no sign of them. He circled and continued to look but never found them. He never knew what happened. My mother, brother and I accompanied him to his flight training in Abilene, TX. Thank you to all for your service.

  • I was involved in an Army (QM petrolum unit from Ft Campbell,Ky)-Air Force competive test at the Donaldson Air Force Base, Greenville, SC in 1963. At that time the Caribou was a Army unit & it was our understanding the test was with an Air Force competive type unit.

  • I flew as Aircraft Commander on 63-9760 on a TDY assignment in Sept 10-12 out of Bien Hoa then back to Cam Ranh Bay AB on the 12th. On one of those short hops I was on my way to Can Tho flying low over the Mekong Delta when I spotted Can Tho airfield just on the otherside of a towering thunderhead. Going around would have taken a long time so I decided to duck under the thunderhead. I dropped to about 100 feet above the rice paddy and started under when the plane got hit with a downpour. Both engines quit with a row of 80 foot trees in front of me. Instinctively I reached up and hit the alternate air switches and both engines caught immediately. Total time without power must have at least one second, maybe almost two. Lesson learned: don’t fly under thunderheads with heavy rain! Unless of course you switch to “alternate air” first.

  • I am a Senior Technical Writer for Bombardier Aerospace (formally de Havilland Canada) in Toronto where the Caribou was manufactured. I had the pleasure of visiting the museum while in the Dover area on business many years back and I spent a pleasant afternoon with Col Hardie while he related his experiences with 63-9760. Congratulations on such a fantastic display of aircraft and all the best to all of you.

  • Larry Alten 1969 535th & 1971 457th

    For those of you who are not familiar with the C-7A Caribou association, you are eligible to join if you were flight crew or maintenance. There is a yearly reunion. Check out their website for more information.

  • I quite likely launched and recovered this bird at Cam Ranh Bay as both of us arrived there about the same time (March 1970). I was a recip. mechanic and we spent a lot of time on the ramp readying the Caribou for its next mission. The augmenter tubes were always cracked and filthy dirty ~ we had to remove and clean them thoroughly before sending them off to the weld shop for repair.
    One morning as the flight crew was boarding the aircraft they spotted a field mouse as it scampered up into the tail section of the fuselage. My buddy grabbed the fire ax and I a broom ~ we corralled the mouse with the broom and my compadre squashed it with the ax. He grabbed the mouse by the tail and escorted him off the aircraft ~ the flight crew jumped on board and away they went. Just another day on the ramp at “Caribou Bay.”

  • My Father, Maj. (at the time) John W McDowell flew these out of Cam Ranh Bay in 69-70. would love pictures of him if anyone remembers him or stories. Thanks for everyone’s service. You are all heroes!

  • I have noticed that the HF long-wire antenna is missing. Also, the radar display that resides in the forward center console is not Vietnam era. I was an avionics technician assigned to the 483rd between 1970 and 1971.

  • I worked on the C7A at Seward AFB. We took them over from the Army in 1966 at Ft Benning GA. We move them to Seward AFB in Dec 66 and Jan 67. Worked in aircraft structural repair till March of 1968. Then assigned to 9th Air Commando squadron and name changed to 9th SOS in Nha Trang Vietnam working on the O2B Cessna push pull twin tail. Psychological war fare unit. I loved that C7A. It was a cool aircraft.

  • June 16, 2016 John H. Bell

    I happened to be browsing thru the Caribou Association web site and clicked on the Caribou on display at the Air Mobility Museum, Tail Number 63-9760. I was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay AB, Viet Nam from August 1959 to August 1970. I perused my old Form 5, Flight Time folder, and confirmed that I had flown that aircraft several times during my tour of duty. A couple of times it must have been for a Test Hop for change of engine, propeller or other flight check requirement, because they were short flights – about half an hour, and I was in a check flight status while there. I also noted that there were some of the regular combat airlift missions also. My sincere thanks to the Crew Chiefs and others for maintaining a great plane!

  • S/Sgt. C.L. Cook (Cooky)

    When I arrived in Cam Ranh Bay from aircraft familiarization at Fort Benning, I was assigned as Crew Chief to C7A Blue Tail 63-9760. I remained Crew Chief until I was assigned Flight Line Maint. coordinator in the Blue bread truck, coordinating with Rainbow Dispatcher. I left Nam for the world, just as the 1968 TET offensive was formulating. Proud to have served in some pretty remote spots in the Highlands, taken along on some of these missions, in the event of immediate unforeseen problems or ground maintenance needs.

  • I was an engine mechanic on the C7 caribou in Cam Ranh Bay 68 69 and loved it!

    • John Jesse Patterson

      My dad was in the 537th tactical squadron he worked on them he was a staff sergeant in the usaf his name was Byrd D Patterson Sonny was one of his nicknames maybe u served with him thanks

    • John Jesse Patterson

      My dad was a aircraft mechanic he worked on them 2 he was in the 537th tas maybe u served with him

  • My father, now 80 yrs young, flew one of these in Korea. He would love to go up in a C7 again even as a passenger. Does anyone know where this could happen?
    Bruce
    bruce.cogent@gmail.com

  • I was the crew chief on 669. Red tail . Gotta love changing a cracked Aug Tube. Yuk

  • I was the crew chief on red tail 145 68-69

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