Fairchild AC-119K 'Stinger'

  Base model:C-119
  Designation System:U.S. Air Force
  Designation Period:1925-1962
  Basic role:Transport
  Modified Mission:Tactical support
  See Also:

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Recent comments by our visitors
 mingo marsland
 , ME
i flew many missions on stinger and took battle damage. but she always brought us back
12/10/2012 @ 03:29 [ref: 67404]
 Larry Juday
 , WA
In his 10/12/2001 @ 00:34 [ref: 3384], Chuck Lunsford praised aircraft 53-7826, and indicated it was the aircraft that won the 1970 MacKay Trophy for its crew after loosing 14 feet of the right wing to anti-aircraft fire. by ground fire. Actually, that aircraft was 883. But Chuck is correct about 826; it was a great aircraft. Between Feb 70 and January 71, the AC-119K crews at DaNang AB were hit by anti-aircraft fire only four times. All four times the aircraft was 826, and each time 826 flew again. On May 2, 1972 826 was shot down in combat.

Larry Juday

01/10/2009 @ 13:49 [ref: 23463]
 David G. Vaux
 Silverdale, WA
I was an inflight gunner in the AC119K stationed in DaNang, Vietnam and NKP, Thailand with the 18th SOS squadron from May71 to May72. I spent many a hairy hours onboard, often receiving more AAA than we dispensed, but it always got us home. Now I spend many sleepless nights as a result of what happened 35 years ago.
11/29/2007 @ 08:56 [ref: 18723]
 Bob La Rosa
 Alamogordo, NM
The AC-119K Stinger gunship and AC-119G Shadow gunship were some of the most formidable fighting aircraft the Air Force ever designed and flew. Both were flown in combat in the Vietnam war. However,little was written in the history books about these great gunships. None survived to return to the United States.

However,the aircrew members that flew on these gunships flew on some of the most dangerious missions in South East Asia.

Bob La Rosa

Past Vice President AC-119 Gunship Association

04/25/2005 @ 01:52 [ref: 10032]
 Jimmy E. Grant
 Oakwood, GA
I was a crew member on the Stinger and thanks to this Great Aircraft and it's crews we made it back.

01/13/2005 @ 07:01 [ref: 9127]
 Joseph Lynn Pizzo
 Bend, OR
Please note. This C-119 has no J-85 jet engines outboard of the prop engines. This plane is being propelled airborne by JATO bottles on both sides of the fuselage.
This is not an AC-119 Gunship.
12/19/2004 @ 04:11 [ref: 8899]
 Marty Clarke
 Ocean City, MD
Had the oppotunity to enjoy the fire power of the AC-119 during the Viet Nam games as a Pathfinder with the 160th Aviation Group, 101st Airborne. I will never forget it! Saved my life. Thanks. Marty Clarke (Crash)
01/15/2002 @ 21:31 [ref: 4098]
 Chuck Lunsford
 Albuquerque, NM
Before they were Stingers, many of the AC-119K series were attached to the 10th, 11th and 12th Troop Carrier Squadrons, of the 60th Troop Carrier Wing, based at Dreux in France. They were among the last C-119s built by Fairchild and Kaiser, built only as G series and not Cs and Fs converted to Gs, and probably had the fewest hours. They were new, just ferried over to Europe from Maryland when I flew them as an airborne Radio Operator for 3 years and a couple of thousand hours in the late '50s. One in particular, #53-7826, Fairchild built, was on a truck busing mission in 1970, and had 14 feet of the right wing, including the aileron, shot off by ground fire. The pilot was able to bring it back and land it, without flaps, and there were no injuries. The pilot won the MacKay Trophy for the best flying job of 1970 for bringing it back. With that kind of damage, I would imagine it was scrapped. 7826 was one of my favorites, and I can say that it was one damn good airplane for hauling freight and dropping troops and equipment, and I'm proud to have flown in it.

The remaining Stingers were transferred to the Vietnamese in 1972, and their ultimate fate is unknown. Maintenance and support was discontinued around that time, and there has been some speculation that some were loaded with family and refugees, and flown to Thailand when S. Vietnam was over-run. Either way, they probably ended up rotting in a jungle--a sad fate for them, after 20 years of service. C-47 gunships were the first, C-130s were second, but because they couldn't get in as slow and close as needed, the third contract for gunships brought back the C=119s. Everyone remembers the "Model T" C-47s (I've flown C-47s, they couln't compare to a C-119) and the C-130s (never flew them -- they didn't carry a radio operator. C-119 was the last production aircraft to have a Morse key standard), but one hardly hears a word about the AC-119K. Too bad. They did more damage that any of the others, including the AC-119G.

Thanks for putting in the page on the 119s.

Chuck Lunsford

10/12/2001 @ 00:34 [ref: 3384]
 B. Byrd
 Houston, TX


Manufacturer: Fairchild
Base model: C-119
Designation: AC-119K

Nickname: “Stinger” (base model“Flying Boxcar”)
Service: U.S. Air Force
Basic role: Transport (later gunships)
Designation Period: 1925-1962
See Also: R4Q

Length: 86' 5" 26.3 m
Height: 26' 7" 8.1 m
Wingspan: 109' 3" 33.3 m

No. of Recip Engines: 2 - Wright R-3350 3500 HP each
No. Jet Engines: 2 - J-85 jet engines outboard of recip engines

During the Vietnam War, the Program COMBAT HORNET was initiated in May 1969 by the Fairchild-Hiller Corporation to modify several existing AC-119G Aircraft to the AC-119K configuration. In addition to adding two J-85 jet engines outboard of the recips, the AC-119K model gunship bolstered the four-minigun armament of the G models with 31,000 rounds of ammunition, plus two M61AI 20mm multibarrel Gattling cannons and 4,500 rounds of 20 mm ammunition.

Like the G model, Stinger also carried the NOD/NOS “starlight scope” that magnified available starlight or moonlight by 2 million power. The K models were also equipped with a state-of-the-art Texas Instruments AN/AAD-4 Forward looking infrared (FLIR) system, AN/APN-147 Doppler terrain-following radar, Motorola AN/APQ-133 Sidelooking beacon tracking radar, and Texas Instruments AN/APQ-136 search radar with moving target indicator mode.

A flare launcher was installed in the aft starboard jump door, and the aircraft was equipped with a door-mounted 20-kilowatt (KW) "white light" illuminator. Its 1.5-million candlepower variable beam could light up a football stadium with clarity on the darkest nights. Of course, it also told the enemy gunners below exactly where to point their antiaircraft guns, a drawback that discouraged the gunship crews from using the illuminator whenever possible. The illuminator on the K model also had an infrared mode.

The AC-119K had a completely different mission from the AC-119G Model. The G models were strictly for TIC (Troops in Contact) support and airbase defense. The K models were used almost strictly in the truck-hunting role in Laos. The AC-119Ks compiled an excellent interdiction record despite bad weather during the monsoon season and diversions for emergency support of firebases and troops in contact with the enemy. Later in the Vietnam War, some of the K models eliminated all the 7.62 armament in favor of increased ammo supply for the 20mm.

The Stinger gunship carried a crew of ten, and flew mostly nighttime missions. The Stingers fast became the nightmare of North Vietnamese truckers on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. AC-119K’s based in Thailand and Vietnam maintained a nightly armed reconnaissance vigil, blasting supply truck convoys moving down the trail from the north. It was not uncommon for a nighttime sortie to destroy or severely damage 8 to 12 supply trucks, and one crew recorded 42 trucks blasted in a single convoy.

North Vietnamese antiaircraft gunners filled the nighttime skies with hundreds of tracer rounds trying to knock the gunships from the skies. Typically, two Stinger crew members (usually one of the gunners, and the illuminator operator, or “IO”) secured themselves with a tether, and hung out of the doors on either side of the aircraft to look for antiaircraft fire coming up from the ground. These “scanners” were adept at detecting AAA fire (called “Triple A”), and if necessary, calling for the pilot to make an emergency maneuver to dodge the bullets. It was a dangerous task, and aircraft maneuvers were often severe, but the Triple A scanners were no doubt responsible for saving many of the Stingers from being hit by groundfire.

In all, a total of 26 AC-119K gunships were placed into service. A handful of these were lost to antiaircraft fire, or crashed for other reasons. The aircraft that remained in Southeast Asia at the end of American involvement there were transferred to the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF), and none of the AC-119K’s ever returned to the U.S..

08/05/2000 @ 13:08 [ref: 567]


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