This edited article about the Lockheed Hercules originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 743 published on 10 April 1976.
Designed as both a freight and a personnel carrier the C-13OK Hercules first flew 22 years ago and was put into production two years later.
It went into use with over 12 air forces, including the R.A.F. One of the assets of this American-built plane from the past was its short take-off and landing capability, which enabled it to operate from the flight deck of a carrier.
Had it been required for war use, it could have delivered troops to battle zones in restricted areas, for it needed a runway of only 300 yards (nearly 280 metres).
The Hercules C-13OK was designed as a tactical transport with a crew of five. It could carry 92 troops or 64 paratroops. Alternatively, it could operate as an ambulance plane with 74 stretchers.
It was as a mercy plane that it was flown by an R.A.F. crew over the peaks of the Himalayan mountains along the northern boundary of India. Anxiously, the airmen peered at the rocky terrain below.
Then they saw what they were looking for – a cluster of homes, patches of parched, unyielding soil and wiry, brown-skinned people looking up at the sky keenly.
At a word of command from the pilot, the cargo doors of the plane were opened and sacks of grain, dangling at the end of parachutes, began dropping to the starving people below.
The Hercules was well-suited to such missions as this and, like many other fine planes of earlier years, it is still proving its value as a plane of the past with a place in the present.
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