Lockheed C-141 Starlifter

Lockheed C-141 Starlifter is a heavy jet military transport aircraft developed by Lockheed. The US Air Force was operated in 1965-2006.


In the late 1950s, the US Air Force’s military transport service, together with the Air Force’s analytical centers and some aircraft manufacturing companies, began research on the appearance of a promising heavy military transport aircraft (MTC) to replace about 400 obsolete military aircraft with intercontinental ranges Douglas C-124 and C- 118, Lockheed C-121 and others equipped with piston engines.

In August 1960, the US Air Force issued technical specifications for the development of an aircraft with four turbofan engines, with a maximum take-off mass of 145 tons, and an intercontinental (transatlantic) flight range. It also required the ability to operate the aircraft from the then existing US and NATO air bases, high reliability of systems, and low labor input of ground maintenance.

According to the results of a project competition traditional for the US Air Force, in which Lockheed, Boeing, Douglas, and Convair participated, March 13, 1961, won the Lockheed project, which soon received a contract for the development and construction of five prototypes.

The original version, S-141A, was developed as part of the transportation system of the United States Department of Defense, which also included ground equipment, cargo platforms, and other means and systems. An experienced aircraft made its first flight on December 17, 1963, a certificate of serviceability in military and civilian versions was handed in January 1965, the first production aircraft was handed over to the Air Force on April 23, 1965, the first squadron of 16 aircraft was formed in the summer of 1965.

Initially, the US Air Force ordered 132 S-141A aircraft but subsequently increased their number to 284, which was due to the increased demand of the Pentagon in heavy “air trucks” associated with the outbreak of the Vietnam War. Deliveries of S-141A were completed in February 1968.

Lockheed also developed civilian versions of the S-141-L-300A and L-300B (the latter with an elongated 7.1 m fuselage). However, airlines recognized the machines as economically inefficient and did not order their series (only one civilian aircraft L-300A was built for NASA).

Since August 1965, the S-141A was intensively used for the transfer of troops and cargo to Vietnam. Also, these machines became the main “pillars” of the “air bridge”, designed to unite, in the event of a large-scale armed conflict, the United States and Western Europe. It should also be noted the active use of StarLifter in 1973, when these military-technical vehicles, together with others, built a rather effective “air bridge” between the USA and Israel during the next Arab-Israeli war.

At the same time, a rather paradoxical drawback of the S-141A aircraft was revealed, as a relatively small cargo compartment: during the Arab-Israeli military conflict at the end of 1973, the USA, supporting Israel, transferred more than 9,100 C-141 A flights to 421 t military equipment and equipment. That is, in one take-off, the plane took on the board less than 22 tons of cargo with a normal load capacity of 32 tons. In this case, in many cases, the limiting factor was the volume of the cargo compartment and not the cargo capacity of the aircraft.


The aircraft is made according to the normal aerodynamic scheme with a high wing and a T-tail. It has an all-metal construction, made following the principles of safe damage. The wing is a two-spar caisson wing with truss ribs and sheathing from machined panels.

The fuselage is a semi-monocoque type, of circular cross-section, made using an aluminum alloy with high “crack resistance”. There are four main doors (in front on the left side for crew members, rear on the sides for parachutists and a cargo door in the rear, upward sloping side of the fuselage, with a cargo ramp), as well as six emergency exits.

The crew cabin is designed for two pilots, a flight engineer, and a navigator. In the cargo compartment, equipment, equipment, and personnel can be transported. The S-141A can accommodate 10 standard cargo platforms of the 463L automated loading system.

Chassis – tricycle. The main struts with four-wheeled trolleys are retracted forward into the fairings on both sides of the fuselage. Nose stance – two-wheeled, retracts forward into the fuselage.

The aircraft is equipped with four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofan engines (4 × 9525 kgs}. The turbofan engines are located on pylons under the wing and are equipped with double-wing reversing devices that create a reverse thrust equal to 45% of the direct. TF33-P-7 is a military version of the civilian Turbojet engine JT3D-8A.

In the left fairing of the chassis installed APU AirResearch GTCP85-106.


  • C-141A is the original model, with a payload of 28,900 kg (62,700 pounds).
  • C-141A KAO (Eng.Kuiper Airborne Observatory) for NASA.
  • C-141B – modernization of the remaining 270 aircraft C-141A (1977-1982), based on the experience of the Vietnam War by mounting two additional sections. The fuselage was thus extended by 7.11 m (23 ft 4 in), which increased the cargo compartment by 61.48 m³. It also installed a system for refueling in the air. The re-equipment made it possible to increase the payload: 205 military personnel, or 103 stretchers for the wounded and seats for 13 escorts, or 168 fully equipped parachutists, or 13 standard transport containers.
  • SOLL II – in 1994, out of thirteen C-141Bs were converted (to participate in special operations, a set of measures was taken to improve navigation at night and increase flight stealth).
  • C-141C – modernization of 63 aircraft (1990) – new avionics and navigation system, replacement of some mechanical and electromechanical systems with radio-electronic ones.


  • Type: military transport aircraft
  • Powerplant: four twin-circuit turbojet engines Pratt Whitney TF33-P-7 at 9 525 kgs each
  • Payload: 154 soldiers or 41 tons of cargo
  • Practical ceiling: 12,680 m
  • Range: 4 725 km
  • Maximum take-off weight: 155.5 t
  • Cruising speed: 796 km / h
  • Wingspan: 48.74 m
  • Wing Area: 299.88 sq. m
  • Length: 51.29 m
  • Height: 11.96 m
Graduated from Embry-Riddle Aviation University with a master's degree in aviation science. He began his career as an aviation researcher in local periodicals. Has a pilot license. Now are the author and developer of the Plane Worlds.