|C-131 Samaritan |
R4Y / T-29
|Convair C-131F Samaritan|
|First flight||22 September 1949|
|Primary users||United States Air Force|
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
United States Coast Guard
|Developed from||Convair CV-240|
The Convair C-131 Samaritan is an American twin-engined military transport produced from 1954 to 1956 by Convair. It is the military version of the Convair CV-240 family of airliners.
The design began life in a production requirement by American Airlines for a pressurized airliner to replace the Douglas DC-3. Convair's original design had two engines and 40 seats, and thus it was designated the CV-240. The first CV-240 flew on March 16, 1947, and production aircraft were first delivered to American on February 28, 1948. Seventy-five were delivered to American, with another fifty going to Western Airlines, Continental Airlines, Pan American Airways, KLM, Sabena, Swissair and Trans Australia Airlines.
The CV-240/340/440 series was used by the United States Air Force (USAF) for medical evacuation and VIP transport and was designated as C-131 Samaritan. The first model Samaritan, the C-131A, was derived from the CV-240 model, and was delivered to the USAF in 1954.[contradictory]
The initial trainer model, designated the T-29, was also based on the Convair CV-240 and was used to instruct USAF navigators for all USAF aircraft and United States Navy (USN) Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) selected to fly land-based aircraft. The first deliveries to the USAF were made in 1950 followed by large production quantities until early 1955. The USAF and the USN operated T-29s in separate units at separate locations until 1976. In 1974, the USAF T-29s with the 323d Flying Training Wing (323 FTW) at Mather AFB, California began to be replaced by the Boeing 737-derived T-43. In 1975, the Navy retired all of its T-29s assigned to Training Squadron Twenty-Nine (VT-29) at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, deactivated VT-29, and merged their advanced navigator training program for land-based NFOs with the Air Force's program at Mather AFB.
A planned bomber training version of the T-29 (designated T-32) was never built.
From 1952, the USN and United States Marine Corps (USMC) took delivery of 36 R4Y-1 transport aircraft similar to the commercial CV-340 and USAF C-131D, configured with 44 passenger seats and powered by a pair of 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-52W engines. A single otherwise similar aircraft was acquired with a 24-seat VIP interior and designated R4Y-1Z. In 1957, the USN took delivery of two additional aircraft similar to the commercial CV-440 and designated R4Y-2. With the 1962 redesignation of USN/USMC aircraft, the three types were redesignated as the C-131F, VC-131F, and C-131G respectively. A number of R4Y-1 (C-131F) aircraft were converted to R4Y-1Z (VC-131F) or R4Y-2 (C-131G) standards after delivery, and several C-131F and C-131G aircraft were ultimately sold as military surplus and converted to civil use.
Nearly all of the C-131s left the active USAF inventory in the late 1970s, but the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) operated the aircraft until 1983, while the Air National Guard (ANG) and USN units operated additional C-131 airframes, primarily as Operational Support Aircraft (OSA) for ANG flying wings and as naval air station "station aircraft" until 1990. The C-131 was primarily replaced by the C-9 Nightingale in regular USAF service, with the ANG replacing their OSA with C-130 Hercules aircraft and the USN with C-12 Hurons.
In 1959, a C-131 was the first aircraft to be used as a reduced-gravity aircraft or 'vomit comet', for astronaut training as part of Project Mercury.
A Samaritan was the first aircraft used as a flying gunship testbed in mid-1963, in a program known as "Project Tailchaser". A C-131B (AF Ser. No. 53-7820) was given a gunsight for the side window, but instead of guns it had cameras in the cargo area. Eventually the C-131 was ferried to Eglin AFB in Florida and a General Electric SUU-11A/A 7.62 mm Gatling-style Minigun was installed. Live ammunition was used and both over-water and overland tests were successful.
On 17 December 1960, a USAF C-131D Samaritan crashed at Munich after one engine lost power on takeoff from Munich-Riem Airport. Flying in heavy fog and unable to gain altitude, the aircraft struck the steeple of St. Paul's Church and crashed onto a tram, killing all 20 people on the aircraft and 32 on the tram.
Data from United States Military Aircraft since 1909
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era