Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy is a superheavy jet transport aircraft developed by Lockheed. Until 1982, it was the largest mass-produced cargo plane in the world.


1965 – the year of birth of the An-22 aircraft – the first super-heavy military transport aircraft. His appearance gave the USSR armed forces a wide range of possibilities for transporting a large number of troops over long distances, which they could not do before. Naturally, the US Armed Forces should have received at least similar capabilities, which means their own heavy transport.

Lockheed began work on a new aircraft back in 1964, however, Pentagon officials believed that such an aircraft was not needed. Antey made them change their mind and stimulated the Lockheed Model 500 project.

The aircraft, designated the Galaxy C-5 (“galaxy”), equipped with four jet engines, Lockheed built in March 1968, and on June 30 of the same year, it made its first flight.

Serial Galaxy received the designation C-5A. Judging by the fact that they began to manufacture them in December 1969, they began preparations for its serial production long before the start of flight tests.

By the summer of 1973, the customer received the last 81st copy of the C-5 to equip them with four squadrons. Galaxy quickly became the main means of quickly transferring heavy weapons and manpower to overseas theaters of war. Meanwhile, even during the tests, due to the insufficient margin of safety of the wing, the payload of the machines was reduced from 100 tons (with a normal overload of 2.5 units) to 79 tons with a double overload. A cargo of 77 tons was transported at a distance of 8700 km. C-5 has long been the largest aircraft in the world, because the actual payload of the An-22 did not exceed 60 tons, and the take-off weight was 250 tons.

The operation of the C-5A was accompanied by great technical difficulties, and tragic moments could not be avoided. By the summer of 1983, the U.S. Air Force lost four cars. The first C-5A burned down on May 4, 1970, at the Palmdale airbase. Six months later, on October 17 at the Dobbins airbase (state of Georgia), under similar circumstances, they lost the second C-5A. On September 27, 1974, another Galaxy was burned down at Clinton Airport (Oklahoma).

On April 4, 1975, after taking off from Saigon Airport (South Vietnam), the fourth C-5A crashed. That day, the plane was transporting Vietnamese children. Of the 328 people on board, 172 died (according to other sources, 190 people). On August 29, 1990, after taking off from the Ramstein airbase in Germany, the fifth C-5A crashed. Of the 17 people on board, four were saved.

The “weakness of the wing” C-5A was the reason for the development of a new bearing surface, for which in 1974 the US Congress approved the appropriate appropriations. The aircraft was equipped with it only in 1980. Three years later, on February 28, the first Galaxy with a reinforced wing was handed over to the military and began to refine the machines that were in operation.

In 1982, the command of the U.S. Air Force decided to increase the fleet of strategic military transport aircraft by signing a contract with Lockheed for the construction of an additional 50 aircraft, which received the designation C-5B. The cost of one machine was then estimated at $ 98 million, and the entire program at $ 10.8 billion. The first C-5V took off on September 10, 1985, and entered the Altus airbase in January of the following year. The last 50th C-5B rolled off the Lockheed assembly line in the spring of 1989.

For the first time, the C-5V was shown to the world in 1986 at a showroom in Vancouver (Canada), although with the advent of the An-124, the C-5 was no longer the heaviest transport.

On June 7, 1989, the C-5B set a record by landing four Sheridan tanks (each weighing 19 tons) and 73 paratroopers over North Carolina. The total mass of cargo on board amounted to 86.293 tons. Galaxy also holds an unofficial world record for the heaviest parachuting of two 27-ton platforms.

As of January 17, 1990, there were 137 C-5A and C-5V aircraft in the U.S. Air Force. By that time, they flew 1.001.385 hours and were considered quite reliable.

Since the appearance in the armed forces, C-5A has participated in almost all armed conflicts, delivering military equipment, ammunition, and fighters to “troubled countries”. In 1990, Galaxy participated in the Desert Shield operation, forming the world’s largest “air bridge.” The cargo turnover of 265 Starlifter, Galaxy, and civil aviation aircraft (reserve of the US Air Force) in 22 days exceeded 4.65 million ton-kilometers. In total, 482,000 troops and 513,000 tons of cargo were transported by the US Air Force.

But in the biography of C-5 – not only military successes but also peaceful actions. In particular, in December 1988, four Galaxy delivered over 398.25 tons of humanitarian supplies to Armenia, affected by the earthquake. Based on Galaxy, Lockheed developed the civilian transport aircraft L-500 (which never found a customer). Also, there were projects of an air command post, an aircraft carrying intercontinental ballistic missiles, a transport aircraft with a nuclear power plant, a bomber for local wars, and a tanker aircraft with a shortened fuselage.


C-5B is a high-wing classic scheme with a T-shaped plumage. The wing is a freestanding caisson type, composed of profiles with a relative thickness of 12% at the root and 11% on the consoles. The wing mechanization consists of slats, Fowler flaps with an area of ​​92.12 square meters. m and interceptors. The wing has 12 fuel tanks with a volume of 193.625 liters.

The fuselage is a semi-monocoque. Above the cargo compartment are crew cabins and resting areas for a shift crew of 15 people. Up to 75 seats can be accommodated in the rear of the upper cab. The cargo compartment – 36.91 m long, 5.79 m wide and 4.1 m high – is equipped with two hatches: the front with the bow rising and the rear with two side wings. Both hatches – with cargo ramps. On the port side in the front parts of the lower and upper cabins there are doors for the crew and “passengers”, and in the rear for the service “passengers”.

The aircraft can carry two M1 tanks or 16 cars weighing up to 700 kg or an M1 tank and two Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters, or five M-113 armored personnel carriers, one M-59 truck (2300 kg) and an M-151 car, or ten missiles Pershing with a tractor and a launcher, or 36 standard 463L platforms.

Chassis – tricycle. The four-wheeled nose strut retracts into the fuselage niche back downstream with the help of hydraulic hoists. The four main six-wheeled trolleys (one pair of wheels is located in front of the shock absorber, and two behind it) are retracted into the fuselage niches using hydraulic drives with a 90-degree turn. The rear wheels of the main supports are self-orienting to improve maneuverability when moving on the ground.

The power plant consists of four TF-GE-C turbofan engines with a take-off thrust of 19.500 kgs and two APUs.


  • Type: heavy military transport aircraft
  • Power plant: four General Electric TF39-GE-1C twin-circuit turbojet engines of 19 500 kg each
  • Payload: 270 soldiers or 118 tons of cargo
  • Practical ceiling: 10,895 m
  • Flight range: 10,411 km
  • Maximum take-off weight: 379.6 t
  • Cruising speed: 888 km / h
  • Wingspan: 67.88 m
  • Wing Area: 575.98 sq. m
  • Length: 75.54 m
  • Height: 19.85 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.