Boeing C-135 Stratolifter

The Boeing C- 135 Stratotanker Lifter is a military transport aircraft for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the Boeing in the late 1950s derived from the KC -135.

In a broader sense C -135 is the designation for the whole series, which includes a number of variants. Were newly built, only the models KC- 135A and -B, RC - 135A, B, and C- 135A ,-B and -F. All other versions - including EC-135, OC -135, WC -135, and dozens of sub-types - have emerged over the years through conversions.

C -135 series

For the C -135 family includes the basic variants:

  • C- 135: transport aircraft; 45 pieces of built 1961-1962, see below
  • EC-135: Electronic Equipment; emerged in 1961 from a converted C- and KC -135
  • KC- 135: Tanker; 761 pieces from 1956 to 1962 built, including 12 for France
  • OC- 135: observation aircraft; 3 pieces from 1992 to 1996 resulted from a converted toilet -135
  • RC -135: reconnaissance aircraft; emerged earlier versions of converted C- and KC -135, 14 units were newly built 1964-1965, UK plans (as of end of 2009) to procure some equipment as a replacement of the Nimrod R1.
  • TC -135: Training aircraft for the RC -135
  • VC -135: VIP transporter; 7 Pieces 1967 to 1975 resulted from a converted C -135
  • WC -135 Constant Phoenix: Weather reconnaissance aircraft; 10 pieces in 1965 from a converted C- and KC -135 emerged in 2011 were two aircraft in use, the base was Offutt Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Nebraska. In April 1986, application for detection of radioactivity in Europe through the Chernobyl disaster. In March 2011, for the collection of air samples ( engl. Air sampling and collection operations) used in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

C -135 transporter


In the late 1950s, the Military Air Transport Service ( MATS ), the Air Transport Command of the U.S. Air Force to modernize its transport fleet tried. This was in 1960 mainly from propeller-driven C -124 Globemaster II and C -133 Cargomaster, while all other major commands had already been converted to jets. The Air Force was faced with the decision to either short term to obtain a freighter variant of an existing model or a newly developed uncompromising military transport with a correspondingly longer wait time. The USAF initially chose the quick way. Douglas offered a cargo version of its DC-8, with turbofan engines and fold-down rear for easy loading. Boeing proposed a similar design on the basis of its tanker aircraft KC -135 Stratotanker.

C- 135A

In May 1960, the U.S. Congress approved the purchase of 50 Boeing transport aircraft with the designation C- 135 Stratotanker lift for a total of 169 million U.S. dollars. For cost reasons accounted for both the modern turbofans in favor of cheaper Turbojetmotoren J57 and the folding rear. The only significant differences to the KC- 135A were the lack of tank system and a reinforced floor in the cargo deck. So then remained the dimensions of the loading space with a width of 3.28 m and a height of 2.11 m is equal. By no longer doing access to the refueling compartment fit into eight pallets of type 463L, two more than in the Stratotanker. The maximum load was 41.1 tons, alternatively up to 126 soldiers. A cargo loading system with winch and rails on the ceiling lightened the load by 2 by 3 meters large side cargo door. Through this conveyor rails, the usable height reduced however to 1.73 m.

In order to get the new van as quickly as possible, let the MATS located three already under construction KC- 135A to C- 135A retrofit. The first flight of the first machine with the USAF 60-0356 identifier was held on May 19, 1961 she was the Air Force from 8 June 1961 available.

The first true C- 135A ( Boeing Model number 717-157 ) with the identifier 61-0369 first flew on 23 June 1961. The Air Force took over the first copy on 12 August of the same year for the 18th Air Transport Squadron of the 1611th Air Transport Wing of MATS on the McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Overall, Boeing delivered 15 newly built C- 135A plus three adapted from.

The three resulting from KC- 135 Stratotanker lifters were in 1962 converted for reconnaissance purposes and the mid-1970s further tanker aircraft KC- 135A and KC- 135R finally. Most of the remaining C- 135A were used after conversion to EC- 135N ARIA 1966 as a measurement and communication platform to support the Apollo moon missions of NASA. At least three EC- 135N were called after the expansion of electronics 1979 C- 135N. To use the C- 135A were testing and transport of air force commanders. Some received more modern TF33 engines and the designation C - 135E in the 1980s.

C- 135B

Of the originally planned 50 C -135 Boeing produced 30 pieces as an improved version of the C- 135B ( Boeing Model number 717-158 ). They had greater turbofan type Pratt & Whitney TF33 -P -5, each with 71 kN capacity, instead of the thrust reverser and J57 -P 59W with 50 kN at the C- 135A. Other changes included an enlarged tailplane and a revised interior (kitchen, toilets, ventilation, noise insulation). The first flight of the B- model took place on December 20, 1961 instead of handing over to the Air Force on March 1, 1962. The 30 C- 135B and last of a total of 45 Stratoliftern took over the MATS in the fall of 1962. Early as 1965, began the phase-out of B version, as the successor to C-141 Starlifter was available in increasing quantities. The USAF used the Strato lift then for a number of special tasks, including telemetry (C- 135B TRIA, EC- 135B ARIA ), weather reconnaissance (WC - 135B ), military VIP transport (VC- 135B ), education (RC - 135M ) and observation of the Open Skies Treaty (OC- 135B ).

A C- 135B ( 61-2669 ) was established in 1965 initially modified to a WC - 135B, 1972 built back to a C - 135B and 1974 converted under the name C- 135C Speckled Trout to a test platform for cockpit avionics. In the second place, it served the carriage of USAF commanders. On January 13, 2006, she flew for the last time, was shut down after 31,000 flight hours on 10 February and has since been in the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum at Edwards Air Force Base issued.

C- 135F

Built in 1963 for France tanker and transport aircraft C- 135F is technically closer to the KC- 135A used as the C -135 freighters. Since the transport role for France was passu with the refueling, it was given the designation C- 135F and not KC- 135F. Since modernization in the 1980s, they are called C- 135FR. See Boeing KC -135 # C - 135F - Tanker for France.

C- 135K

A single aircraft designated the Air Force in 1996 as a C- 135K. It is a former EC- 135K and original KC- 135A, which have electronic special equipment has been removed. The machine with ID 59-1518 served from the end of 1996 at the Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, as a VIP aircraft to the USAF they were retired in March 2003.


The Air Force had not lost the procurement of a newly developed cargo out of sight and decided to build the C -141 Starlifter in March 1961. Therefore, the Strato lift came as transporter used only a few years. For bulky but it was not suitable because of the side loading port, nor for parachute jumps. For this, the A- model was able to land due to lack of thrust reversers only on long paths in a loaded state, so that the cargo carried then often had to be brought into use area across the street. The speed advantage of the jet with respect to the propeller-driven predecessors in relativized strong.

Mid- September 1961 put the MATS C- 135 for redeployment of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to Turkey for the first time. It was followed by a variety of transport operations, in which the C -135 aufstellte some records for nonstop distances and flight times. For example, on 11 January 1962, when a C - 135A covered the 8208 km from Fort Lewis, Washington in Rhein- Main Air Base in ten hours and ten minutes. As of 1965, the C-141 began to replace the Strato lift in air transport. The Air Force let them gradually converted for various other tasks. Seven Strato lifters were lost due to accidents, with more than 100 people lost their lives. About half of the units built in early 2007 is still in service, none of them, however, as a normal transport aircraft.


A total of 76 aircraft of the Boeing C -135 family were lost due to falls or accidents.

As of January 1, 2010