UK Royal Air Force C 130J Hercules

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop cargo aircraft and the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 50 nations.

Capable of short takeoffs and landings from unprepared runways, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship, and for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling and aerial firefighting. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. During more than 50 years of service the family has participated in military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations.

The C-130 Hercules is the workhorse of the British Royal Air Force transport fleet. Over the years it has proved to be a versatile and rugged aircraft, primarily intended for tactical operations including troop carrying, paratrooping, supply dropping and aeromedical duties.

The Hercules can operate from short unprepared airstrips, but also possesses the endurance to mount long-range strategic lifts if required.

As a troop carrier, the Hercules can carry 92 fully armed men, while for airborne operations 64 paratroops can be dispatched in two simultaneous 'sticks' through the fuselage side doors. Alternatively, 40 paratroops can jump from the rear loading ramp. As an air ambulance the aircraft can accommodate 74 stretchers. Freight loads that can be parachuted from the aircraft include: 16 x 1 ton containers or 4 x 8,000 pound platforms or 2 x 16,000 pound platforms or 1 x platform of 30,000 pounds plus.

Of the original 66 C1 aircraft, some 31 have been given a fuselage stretch producing the Mark C3. The C3 'stretched version' provides an additional 37% more cargo space. Refuelling probes have been fitted above the cockpit of both variants and some have received radar warning pods under the wing tips.

RAF Hercules C130J C4/5 deploying an Army Landrover following a tactical landing at RAF Cosford Airshow

The British Royal Air Force has replaced some of its Hercules C1/C3 aircraft with second-generation C-130Js on a one-for-one basis. Twenty-five Hercules C4 and C5 aircraft were ordered and are now in service. The C4 is the same size as the older Hercules C3 which features a fuselage lengthened by 4.57 m (15ft) than the original C1.


The Hercules C5 is the new equivalent of the shorter model. With a flight deck crew of two plus one loadmaster, the C-130J can carry up to 128 infantry, 92 paratroops, 8 pallets or 24 CDS bundles. The Hercules C4/C5s have new Allison turboprop engines, R391 6-bladed composite propellers and a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC). This propulsion system increases take-off thrust by 29% and is 15% more efficient. Consequently, there is no longer a requirement for the external tanks to be fitted. An entirely revised 'glass' flight deck with head-up displays (HUD) and four multi-function displays (MFD) replacing many of the dials of the original aircraft. These displays are compatible with night-vision goggles (NVG).

C-130 HERCULES Specifications
Type Tactical transport
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company
Accommodation C-130E Five (two pilots, navigator, flight engineer and loadmaster), C-130J Three (two pilots and loadmaster), max load 6 pallets or 74 stretcher or 16 CDS bundles or 92 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, or a combination of any of these up to the cargo compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight
Armament None
Performance C-130E 345 mph, C-130J 417 mph
Wing Span 95ft 9in (29.2m)
Length C-130E/H/J 97ft, 9in (29.3m), C-130J 112ft, 9in (34.69m)
Height 38ft, 10in (11. 9m)
Weight payload C-130E, 42,000lbs (19,090kg), C-130J, 42,000 lbs (19,090kg)
Powerplant C-130E Four Allison T56-A-7 turboprops; 4,200 prop shaft horsepower, C-130J Four Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprops; 4,700 horsepower
Variants C-130E/H, C-130J

Photos Copyright Alasdair Taylor