The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport 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. In December 2006, the C-130 became the fourth aircraft – after the English Electric Canberra in May 2001, the B-52 Stratofortress in January 2005 and the Tupolev Tu-95 in January 2006 – to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case the United States Air Force.

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.

24 Squadron - The squadron had been operating Hastings at Colerne until January 1968 when it received the first of the American built Lockheed Hercules C Mk 1s. A month later the squadron moved to Lyneham, where it remains today, flying all four versions of the Hercules, although the aircraft are pooled centrally and allocated to squadrons as required.
30 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the second generation C-130J Hercules from RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire. The RAF transport fleet is in a period of flux and the Hercules C4/C5 fleet is a major part of this. The RAF ordered 25 of the aircraft with first deliveries in 1999. The first generation Hercules C1/C3 fleet is due to be replaced by 25 Airbus A400Ms at which time RAF Lyneham will close. This will see RAF's transport aircraft concentrated at RAF Brize Norton with the C-17 and tanker fleets.
47 Squadron - The squadron disbanded on 31 October 1967, but four months later on 25 February 1968 it was reformed at Fairford to operate the Lockheed Hercules, moving to Lyneham in September 1972.  The squadron is still current today and still operates the Hercules, having also operated the C Mk 3 version from March 1980. 
70 Squadron - In November 1967 the squadron received Argosies while in Cyprus. In November 1970, Hercules began to arrive, although it was 1973 before the final Argosy left. With the rundown of Britain's overseas bases, in January 1975 it was decided to bring No 70 back to the UK, the first time it had served here in 55 years.

General characteristics

Crew: 4-6: at least 2 pilots,1 flight engineer (eliminated in the J variant, replaced by crew chief), and 1 loadmaster; additional loadmaster and navigator are usually part of the crew


92 passengers or
64 airborne troops or
74 litter patients with 2 medical personnel
Payload: 45,000 lb (20,000 kg) including 2-3 Humvees or an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
Length: 97 ft 9 in (29.8 m)
Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in (40.4 m)
Height: 38 ft 3 in (11.6 m)
Wing area: 1,745 ft² (162.1 m²)
Empty weight: 83,000 lb (38,000 kg)
Useful load: 72,000 lb (33,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 155,000 lb (70,300 kg)
Powerplant: 4× Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, 4,300 shp (3,210 kW) each


Maximum speed: 329 knots (379 mph, 610 km/h)
Cruise speed: 292 knots (336 mph, 540 km/h)
Range: 2,050 nm (2,360 mi, 3,800 km)
Service ceiling 33,000 ft (10,000 m)