The Fairchild C-123 "Provider" had a long development life. It was originally built as a Chase G-20 "Avitruc" assault glider, and later powered versions were built by Fairchild. The strength of the all-metal tubular airframe made it a natural choice to become a powered transport. The designers experimented with both reciprocal and jet engine installations. The final engine combination chosen for the first production model, the C-123B, was a pair of 2,300 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99W's.
Our C-123 was originally constructed as a C-123B-12-FA, and was later upgraded to C-123K standards with the addition of larger diameter wheels and an anti-skid braking system, plus two General Electric J-85 turbojets to increase the aircraft's STOL (Short Take-off and Landing) capabilities. The jet engines were mounted on underwing pylons outboard of the piston engines.
Looking super-duper: our recently painted C-123 “Provider” …thank you volunteers!
In the early 1960's, the "Provider" was used to supply the Distant Early Warning (DEW) sites. When the United States entered the Vietnam War, the C-123 was called upon to carry troops and equipment, drop airborne troops while others were converted to AC-123K "Gunships." The gunships had four 7.62mm miniguns, flares and night sensors installed for troops interdiction missions.
The Heritage Center's C-123K, serial number 55-4507, spent its life carrying cargo. She last flew with the 302nd Tactical Airlift Wing, Rickenbacker AFB, Columbus, Ohio. They operated the airlift until October, 1981, when '4507 was flown into storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. Heritage Center volunteers traveled to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and readied the aircraft for the flight to Travis Air Force Base.
Wing Span: 110'
Maximum Speed: 240 M.P.H.
Service Ceiling: 29,000 Ft.
Range: 1340 Miles
Crew/Passengers: 2 plus 61 fully loaded troops
Armament: C-123K - None
AC-123K - 4 x 7.62mm Miniguns
Engines: 2 x 2,300 H.P. Pratt & Whitney R-2800-99W Double Wasp radial engines
Information derived from “Travis Heritage Center” by Nick Veronico copyright Travis AFB Historical Society/Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation. This book is available from the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum GIFT SHOP located in the Travis Heritage Center.