Base 'stretched' C-141s in 1979

Post date: Sep 14, 2013 11:11:00 PM

Base 'stretched' C-141s in 1979

by Mark Wilderman

60th Air Mobility Wing History Office

8/25/2011 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- On Aug. 14, 1979, the 60th Military Airlift Wing sent the first of its 39 Lockheed C-141A Starlifter aircraft to the Lockheed-Georgia plant near Dobbins Air Force Base, Marietta, Ga., to be upgraded, or "stretched."

When the C-141A first entered service in April 1965, it became apparent that the aircraft's volume capacity was low compared to its lifting capacity. In other words, the C-141A ran out of physical cargo space before reaching its weight-carrying limit.

The stretch consisted of adding a 160-inch fuselage plug in front of the wing and 120-inch fuselage plug behind the wing, increasing the length of the cargo deck by 23 feet 4 inches. In addition, the upgrade included the installation of an air refueling receptacle on the upper fuselage, just behind the cockpit. The modified aircraft were designated C-141B.

By stretching the 270 C-141s in the Military Airlift Command fleet, the Air Force gained capability equal to an additional 90 new aircraft, plus increased range from the new air refueling capability.

On April 11, 1980, the first C-141B assigned to an operational wing in Military Airlift Command arrived at Travis, sporting the new gray and green "Lizard" camouflage scheme more suitable for combat operations. The last of MAC's 270 C-141 conversions was completed in 1982.

C-141s operated at Travis from 1965 to 1997, bridging the gap between the piston-powered Douglas C-124 Globemaster II and the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III. The Travis C-141s were retired in December 1997.

One of the 13 surviving C-141s, "The Golden Bear," is on display here at the corner of Burgan Boulevard and Travis Avenue.