One of the most successful and longest serving military heavy-lift, transport and logistics aircraft in the world, Lockheed’s four-engine turboprop military transport the C-130 Hercules first entered service in 1958 and currently serves with more than 60 nations in over 40 variants.
Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medevac, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting.
Australia’s RAAF acquired the C-130 shortly after it went into service with the US Military when it took delivery of 12 C-130As in December 1958 as a replacement for its ageing, but still revered fleet of Douglas C-47 Dakotas. In 1966 another twelve C-130Es entered RAAF service and since then, the RAAF’s primary logistics and support aircraft has undergone many upgrades and modifications as part of its ongoing maintenance with the original C-130A’s being replaced by C-130Hs in 1978 and then replaced by twelve C-130J Super Hercules in 1999.
The RAAF's first strategic air-lifter, the Hercules has frequently been used to deliver disaster relief in Australia and the Pacific region, as well as to support military deployments overseas. The aircraft saw extensive service during the Vietnam War, transporting troops and cargo to Southeast Asia and undertaking aeromedical evacuation.
Nineteen of the RAAF's fleet of twenty-four C-130s took part in relief efforts in 1974–75 after Cyclone Tracy struck Darwin. Since then, the Hercules have been involved in humanitarian missions to New Guinea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bali, Sumatra, and New Zealand. They have also seen service during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the Fijian coups in 1987, operations in Somalia in 1993, INTERFET operations in East Timor in 1999–2000, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq beginning in 2001. In over fifty years of Australian service, the Hercules have accumulated more than 800,000 flying hours.
From late 2001, Hercules began flying into Afghanistan to support the SAS squadron deployed as part of Operation Slipper, Australia’s contribution to the War in Afghanistan.
Five Hercules of Nos. 36 and 37 Squadrons joined relief efforts following the Bali Bombings in October 2002 and in February 2003, a detachment of Hercules from No. 36 Squadron were deployed to the Middle East as part of the Australian contribution to the invasion of Iraq. These aircraft arrived on 10 February, and began flying transport sorties twelve days later. The C-130s were the main form of transport used to move Australian personnel and equipment in the theatre before and after the outbreak of fighting on 19 March.
During the invasion the Hercules supported SAS operations in western Iraq, one being the first Coalition aircraft to land at Al Asad Airbase after it was secured by special forces personnel on 12 April. The C-130s transported supplies and equipment to airstrips in southern Iraq to support the operations of US and British forces. As the first phase of the war wound down, Australian Hercules flew medical supplies into Baghdad shortly after the city was captured. A rotating detachment of three Hercules was subsequently maintained in the Middle East to support the ongoing Australian contribution to the War in Afghanistan, as well as the forces stationed in Iraq. The aircraft assigned to this detachment amassed a total of 20,000 operational flying hours by March 2010.
Today the C-130 Hercules continues in its duel military and humanitarian relief role and is expected to continue its service with the RAAF well into the 2020s.
All C-130 Hercules Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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