Military Aviation

C-141B Starlifter

C-141B Starlifter


The C-141B Starlifter is the workhorse of the Air Mobility Command. The Starlifter fulfills the vast spectrum of airlift requirements through its ability to airlift combat forces over long distances, deliver those forces and their equipment either by air, land or airdrop, resupply forces and transport the sick and wounded from the hostile area to advanced medical facilities.


The C-141B is a stretched C-141A with in-flight refueling capability. The stretching of the Starlifter consisted of lengthening the planes 23 feet 4 inches (7.11 meters). The added length increased the C-141 cargo capacity by about one-third, for an extra 2,171 cubic feet (62.03 cubic meters). The lengthening of the aircraft had the same overall effect as increasing the number of aircraft by 30 percent. The C-141A, built between 1963 and 1967, was AMC's first jet aircraft designed to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier. The development of the B model was the most cost-effective method of increasing AMC's airlift capability.

A universal air refueling receptacle on the C-141B, with the ability to transfer 23,592 gallons (89,649 liters) in about 26 minutes, means longer nonstop flights and fewer fuel stops at overseas bases during worldwide airlift missions.

The C-141 force, nearing nine million flying hours, has a proven reliability and long-range capability. In addition to training, worldwide airlift and combat support, the C-141 has amassed a laudatory record in response to humanitarian crises.

The C-141, with its changeable cargo compartment, can transition from rollers on the floor for palletized cargo to a smooth floor for wheeled vehicles to aft facing seats or sidewall canvas seats for passengers, quickly and easily, to handle over 30 different missions.


C-141s are stationed at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.; McChord AFB, Wash.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; and Travis AFB, Calif. AMC began transferring C-141s to the Air Reserve and Air National Guard forces in July 1986. The first Air Reserve unit was Andrews AFB, Md., followed by others now at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and March AFB, Calif.; and Air National Guard units at Jackson, Miss., and Memphis, Tenn.

The first C-141A, delivered to Tinker AFB, Okla., in October 1964, began squadron operations in April 1965. Starlifters made flights almost daily to Southeast Asia, carrying troops, equipment and supplies, and returning patients to U.S. hospitals.

The C-141 was the first jet transport from which U.S. Army paratroopers jumped, and the first to land in the Antarctic. A C-141 established a world record for heavy cargo drops of 70,195 pounds (31,588 kilograms).

The first C-141B was received by the Air Force in December 1979. Conversion from A to B models was completed in 1982.

The C-141 continues to be the backbone of military airlift capability and the cornerstone of a valuable national asset, airlift. The C-141's reliability and intrinsic capabilities enable AMC to meet any commitment anywhere national interest dictates.

General Characteristics

Primary Function: Cargo and troop transport
Contractor: Lockheed-Georgia Company
Power Plant: Four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofan engines
Thrust: 20,250 pounds, each engine
Wingspan: 160 feet (48.7 meters)
Length: 168 feet, 4 inches (51 meters)
Height: 39 feet, 3 inches (11.9 meters)
Cargo Compartment: Height, 9 feet 1 inch (2.77 meters); length, 93 feet 4 inches (28.45 meters); width, 10 feet 3 inches (3.12 meters)
Cargo Door: width, 10.25 feet (31.24 meters); height, 9.08 feet (27.6 meters)
Speed: 500 mph (Mach 0.66) at 25,000 feet
Ceiling: 41,000 feet (12,496 meters) at cruising speed
Range: Unlimited with in-flight refueling
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 323,100 lbs (146,863 kilograms)
Load: Either 200 troops, 155 paratroops, 103 litters and 14 seats, or 68,725 lbs (31,239 kilograms) of cargo
Unit Cost: $40.9 million (FY96 constant dollars)
Crew: Five: two pilots, two flight engineers and one loadmaster (one navigator added for airdrops). Aeromedical teams of two flight nurses and three medical technicians each are added for aeromedical evacuation missions.
Date Deployed: C-141A: May 1964; C-141B: December 1979.
Inventory: Unavailable

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