The C-141 Starlifter was the US Air Force’s first major jet aircraft designed to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier. Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin) built a total of 285 C-141s, and for more than 40 years, C-141s performed numerous airlift missions for the USAF. With its great range and high speed, the Starlifter projected American military power and humanitarian efforts rapidly across the globe.
The Starlifter originated from a 1959 requirement for a fast, strategic transport aircraft that would serve as a “work horse” for moving U.S. Army troops rapidly anywhere in the world. The C-141 made its maiden flight on December 17, 1963, and the C-141A became operational in April 1965 with the 1501st Air Transport Wing at Travis Air Force Base (AFB), California.
During its early operational service, the C-141A demonstrated that it had the potential to transport larger cargo loads, and the USAF lengthened the C-141A’s fuselage by 23.3 feet and added aerial refueling capability. The first modified “stretch” C-141B arrived at Altus AFB, Oklahoma, in December 1979, and Lockheed completed the modification program in 1982. The additional cargo capacity of the C-141Bs gave the USAF the equivalent of 90 additional C-141As. Later modifications included strengthening the wings which added extra service life to the Starlifter. From 1997 to 2001, C-141Bs were converted to C-141Cs by the addition of advanced avionics.
In July 1986, the USAF began transferring its C-141s to Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units, and the last two Starlifters were retired from service in 2006. Over their four-decade career, Starlifters logged more than 10 million hours, including a record set in 1981 when a C-141 flew 67,000 pounds of cargo non-stop from New Jersey to Saudi Arabia, refueling three times in flight.
The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center was responsible for depot maintenance, program management, and logistics support for the C-141 fleet during its entire operational service.
The C-141C on display, serial number 65-0248, was delivered to the USAF in April 1966 and assigned to the 60th Military Airlift Wing at Travis AFB, California. It later served with the 62nd Military Airlift Wing at McChord AFB, Washington, and 63rd Military Airlift Wing at Norton AFB, California. In 2005 it was retired from the 729th Airlift Squadron, Air Force Reserve, March AFB, California, and transferred to the museum for display. Notably, this aircraft was the last C-141 to undergo Programmed Depot Maintenance at Robins AFB in December 2003.
Span: 160 ft.
Length: 168 ft. 4 in.
Height: 39 ft. 3 in.
Weight: 323,100 lbs. max.
Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofan engine of 20,250 pounds of thrust ea.
Cost: $8.1 million
Serial Number: 65-0248
Maximum speed: 500 mph.
Range: Unlimited with in-flight refueling
Service ceiling: 41,000 ft.