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YC-125 Raider
Role Transport aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Northrop Corporation
First flight 1 August 1949
Introduction 1950
Retired 1955
Primary user United States Air Force
Produced 1949–1950
Number built 23

The Northrop YC-125 Raider was a 1940s American three-engined STOL utility transport built by Northrop Corporation, Hawthorne, California.

Design and development

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.[1] The Pioneer was lost in a fatal crash on 19 February 1948 when it lost a new tailfin design in flight.[2]

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.

Operational history

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.[3]


A YC-125 performs a JATO takeoff
N-23 Pioneer
Prototype three-engined STOL transport, one built.
N-32 Raider
Company designation of military version of the N-23.
YC-125A Raider
N-32 with seats for thirty troops, 13 built.
YC-125B Raider
Arctic rescue version of the N-32 with twenty stretchers and provision for a ski undercarriage. Ten built (serials 48-618/627).
Proposed Canadair licensed produced variant from 1949, with 3 x Canadian Pratt & Whitney R-1820 engines. Was redesignated CL-12 in the same year. Project was dropped sometime around early 1950.[citation needed]
Another proposed Canadair variant. Improvements including the replacement of the three engines with two Allison T56 turboprops were studied. Project abandoned in the early 1950s.[4]


Surviving aircraft

YC-125B at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Specifications (YC-125B)

3-view line drawing of the Northrop YC-125 Raider
3-view line drawing of the Northrop YC-125 Raider

Data from National Museum of the US Air Force YC-125B Factsheet[7] & American Military Transport Aircraft Since 1925[8]

General characteristics


See also

Related lists



  1. ^ Stern 2004, p. 41.
  2. ^ Associated Press, "Test Pilot Dies; Crew Bails Out", San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Friday 20 February 1948, Volume LIV, Number 149, page 1.
  3. ^ "Northrop YC-125 Raider." Pima Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: 12 September 2012.
  4. ^ Chong, Anthony (2016-06-15). Flying Wings & Radical Things: Northrop's Secret Aerospace Projects & Concepts 1939-1994. Specialty Press. pp. 80, 81. ISBN 978-1-58007-229-8.
  5. ^ "1951 Northrop YC-125B". National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  6. ^ "Northrop YC-125 Raider". Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  7. ^ "NORTHROP YC-125B RAIDER". NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE US AIR FORCE™. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  8. ^ Johnson 2013, p. 203.