|1 August 1949
|United States Air Force
The Northrop YC-125 Raider was a 1940s American three-engined STOL utility transport built by Northrop Corporation, Hawthorne, California.
Northrop's first postwar civil design was a three-engined STOL passenger and cargo transport named the Northrop N-23 Pioneer, which was intended to replace the Ford Trimotors of the Central American airline Transportes Aéreos Centro Americanos (TACA). The Pioneer could carry 36 passengers or cargo, with a cargo door and a "chin" hatch allowing the loading of 36 ft (11 m) lengths of pipes or timber into the aircraft's cabin. It first flew on 21 December 1946. The aircraft had good performance, resulting in an order of 40 aircraft from TACA, but political manoeuvring from Pan-Am after the shipping company Waterman Steamship Corporation purchased a major stake in TACA led to TACA losing rights to operate to or from the United States, which in turn caused TACA to cancel its order for the Pioneer. Despite extensive sales tours, no further orders were obtained. The Pioneer was lost in a fatal crash on 19 February 1948 when it lost a new tailfin design in flight.
In 1948, the United States Air Force expressed interest in an aircraft of the same configuration and placed an order with Northrop for 23 aircraft, 13 troop transports designated the C-125A Raider and 10 for Arctic rescue work designated the C-125B. With the company designation N-32 Raider the first aircraft flew on 1 August 1949.
The aircraft was powered by three 1,200 hp (890 kW) Wright R-1820-99 Cyclone radial engines. The aircraft could also be fitted with JATO rockets that enabled it to take off in less than 500 feet (150 m). The 13 troop transporters were designated YC-125A in-service and the Arctic rescue version the YC-125B.
The Canadian company Canadair considered building the N-23 under licence but did not proceed.
Deliveries of the YC-125 to the USAF began in 1950. These aircraft did not serve long as they were underpowered and they were soon sent to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas and relegated to be ground instructional trainers until retired in 1955 and declared surplus.
Most of the surplus aircraft were purchased by Frank Ambrose and sold to bush operators in South and Central America.
Data from National Museum of the US Air Force YC-125B Factsheet & American Military Transport Aircraft Since 1925