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DOUGLAS C-133 CARGOMASTER
The Douglas C-133 Cargomaster was one of the largest turboprop cargo transports in USAF service through the mid 1950s to mid 60s.
Entering operations just after the introduction of the C-130 Hercules and designed as a replacement for the C-124 Globemaster, the C-33 differed considerably from other heavy transports in that it featured a ‘one-level’ cargo bay with huge rear and side loading doors which enabled the loading of massive single piece cargo such as the Atlas, Saturn and Titan rockets it transported to Cape Canaveral as launch boosters for the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo space programs.
With a high-mounted wing, external blister fairings on each side for the landing gear and powered by four Pratt & Whitney T34-P-9W turboprop engines, the strategic transporter had a maximum speed of 359mph with a service ceiling of almost 30,000ft.
Although fast and extremely versatile, the C-133 had a difficult introduction into service, with aircraft developing an unenviable a reputation of crashing. Crew members referred to it as a “widow-maker” and many would simply refuse to fly in it until the cause of the crashes were discovered and rectified.
Crash investigations discovered a number of issues including the auto-pitch controller of the propellers and the fact that the aircraft's flight characteristics gave very little warning to the crew of an impending stall with the left wing suddenly pitching before the right and throwing the aircraft into an often uncontrollable spin. Surprisingly, the fix was a simple strip of metal attached to the trailing edge of the right wing causing it to stall simultaneously with the left.
Unlike most new aircraft produced for the US Department of Defence, no prototype of the C-133 was ever built - instead the aircraft went straight into production and there has been some speculation that one of the key drivers for its quick turnaround was the need to air transport a number of ICBM Minuteman ballistic missiles to their launch silos scattered across the US during the volatile years of the Cold War. To do this, the C-133s rear doors were modified to open outwards (petal doors).
Fifty Cargomasters were built and because of its lift capacity and speed, the aircraft became the ‘go-to’ transporter for the USAF conducting many clandestine missions across the globe such as delivering a deep sea recovery vehicle to Spain in 1966 when a B-52 nuclear bomber and KC-135 collided during an aerial refuelling exercise resulting in four high yield nuclear bombs falling into the Mediterranean Sea.
The nuclear bombs were quickly located and retrieved from the ocean floor at over 2562ft. Two years later a B-52 from Plattsburgh Air Force Base crashed onto the ice seven miles from the US Base at Thule, Greenland. The resulting fire detonated the high explosives in the nuclear bombs, scattering radioactive debris across the ice sheet. The nuclear heart of one of the bombs started a fusion chain reaction inside its casing and the bomb melted through the ice, falling to the ocean floor.
Within 18 hours, a C-133 had flown a top secret two-man diving submarine from Rhode Island in the US, retrieved the nuclear components and returned to base.
During the Vietnam War the C-133 cargomaster became indispensable as it transported M41 tanks and 155 mm self-propelled howitzers, helicopters and heavy equipment from the US to bases across South East Asia. The loads were often so heavy that the airplane was over 300,000 pounds gross takeoff weight, giving the wings a definite bow.
By 1971, shortly before the introduction of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, the Cargomaster was obsolete as well as being worn out, and all were withdrawn from service. The C-133 had a 10,000-hour airframe that was life-extended to 19,000 hours. Severe vibration caused critical stress corrosion of the airframes to the point that the aircraft were beyond economical operation.
All Douglas C-133 Cargomaster Instruments 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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DOUGLAS C-133 CARGOMASTER CABIN AIR PRESSURE CONTROLLER