Delaware Military History

C-124 Globemaster II

Dover AFB had been largely re-defined in the years immediately after the Korean War.  It
might easily have become one more excess base slated for custodial status until it closed for
good.  But due to the need for a strategic base of operation on the East coast for airlift it
enjoyed a renaissance.  
Dover AFB grew by leaps and bounds as the increasingly important
strategic aerial port of embarkation for critical material for the Atlantic Alliance. A new and
a much expanded facility with a full complement of medium and heavy airlift aircraft in five
squadrons augmented by a separate air defense unit limned the Base in the mid-1950s.
Delaware residents and travelers along route one past Dover AFB in the 1950’s and 1960’s
were familiar with two aircraft types that were the dominant giants of their day. The C-124
Globemaster II and the later C-133 Cargomaster were icons of Dover AFB painted with
colorful day-glow orange nose a tail flashes.  The locals were both proud and in awe at
these behemoths of the sky.

The 40th Air Transport Squadron was added to the rolls on March 8, 1954. It and the 45th
ATS were re-designated “Heavy” indicating they would take the Douglas C-124
Globemaster II as their mission aircraft. Reassigned to the 1607th Air Transport Group, on
1 January 1954, the 1st Airlift Squadron was redesignated 1st Air Transport Squadron,
Heavy, on 8 September 1954. That same year, the unit added the C-124 to its aircraft

On May 1, 1954 the first C-124 Globemaster II aircraft was assigned to DAFB. The Douglas
C-124 Globemaster II, nicknamed "Old Shakey", was a heavy-lift cargo aircraft built by the
Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California. First deliveries of the 448 production
aircraft began in May 1950 and continued until 1955. The C-124 was the primary heavy-lift
transport for United States Air Force Military Air Transport Service (MATS) during the
1950s and early 1960s until the C-141 Starlifter entered service.

Significant Dover AFB C-124 Airlift Missions

From the mid-1950s to the mid-Sixties, to offer an incomplete list, Dover Air Force Base C-
124's participated in Project Ice Cube to construct a Defense Early Warning Network in
Northern Canada; the airlift to help combat a polio outbreak in Argentina; and Operation
Good Hope to Jordan; airlift support for the Cuban Missile Crisis; Hurricane Cleo and the
delivery of supplies to Guadeloupe Island, as well as supporting the deepening involvement
in Vietnam; and an airlift of relief supplies to Honduras after Hurricane Hattie;

18 April 1962 A C-124 Globemaster departed Dover carrying Colonel John Glenn’s space
Friendship VII to South America. All three of the wing’s flying squadrons alternated
escort duty during the worldwide tour; culminating at Seattle World’s Fair on 6 August
1962.   The 1607th ATW was chosen to airlift the FRIENDSHIP VII, Lt Col John Glenn's
famed space capsule on a global tour to the major cities of the Free World. The trip was
divided into three parts, each part taken by one of the three C-l24 squadrons.

On 18 April 1962 the 31st ATS departed Dover to airlift the capsule through Central and
South America; the 20th ATS toured Europe and Africa; and the 15th ATS made the last
leg of the trip through Asia, Australia, and terminated at the World Fair in Seattle on 6
August 1962 where the space vehicle was placed on display. A total of 284:20 airframe
hours were flown on this mission.

Amigo Airlift

The Amigo Airlift in response to a devastating earthquake in Chile; On Saturday and
Sunday, May 21st and 22nd of 1960, a series of immense earthquakes struck southern Chile
between Concepción and the Gulf of Corcovado. Five tremors registered between 7.25 and
9.5 on the Richter scale and for 25 miles the earth’s surface sank 1,000 feet. This would be
the largest earthquake measured in the world in the 20th Century. Between May 23rd and
June 23rd, the Eastern Air Trans-port Air Force (EASTAF) of the Military Air Transport
Service (MATS) and the Caribbean Air Command airlifted more than 1,000 tons of emer-
gency goods to Chile. Cargo included two 400-bed Army field hospitals, two Army
helicopter units (10 helicopters), 64 tons of mobile radar landing approach equipment, 140
tents, 2,000 blankets, radios, trucks, trailers, food, cots, fork-lifts, medical supplies, water
tanks, building materials and two water purification units.

The 63rd Troop Carrier Wing from Donaldson AFB, South Carolina; the 1607th Air
Transport Wing from Dover AFB, Delaware; the 1608th Air Transport Wing from
Charleston AFB, South Carolina; the 1611th Air Transport Wing from McGuire AFB, New
Jersey and the Caribbean Air Command from Albrook AFB in the Panama Canal Zone flew
the airlift using 13 C-118, 66 C-124, 4 C-54, 3 C-47 and 2 H-19 missions. The planes carried
2,500 passengers, including refugees, medical personnel and communication specialists.

Belgian Congo Peacekeepers

The airlift of United Nations peace-keepers to the Belgian Congo, July 1960- Jan 1964 Even
today, this airlift first called Operation “Safari” and Later Operation “New Tape” still
stands as one of the United State Air Force’s greatest peacetime accomplishments. Operation
New Tape required C-124 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules’ launches from several points
throughout the world into numerous terminals within Africa. UN soldiers from countries
including Sweden, Ireland, Ethiopia, India, Morocco and Pakistan had to be transported
quickly and safely to the African heartland.

The positioning of the initial cadres of UN troops and equipment was accomplished by
September 1960 and operations decreased. During the next year the Congo Airlift was
handled almost solely by the 15th, 20th and 31st Air Transport Squadrons of the 1607th
Air Transport Wing (Dover AFB), assigned temporary duty with the Provisional Squadron
at Chateauroux, France. In September 1961, operational control reverted back to MATS and
USAFE and the provisional squadron was disbanded. All aircraft would now be scheduled
from their home bases and the first such mission departed Dover on October 12, 1961. 1500
mile legs and very little NAVAIDs.

Alaskan Earthquake

The relief airlift following the Great Alaskan Earthquake; At 5:36 p.m. on Good Friday,
March 27, 1964, the twentieth century’s most inten-sive earthquake to hit North America
struck South Central Alaska leaving 131 dead and damages estimated between $400 and
$500 million. Registering 9.2 on the Richter Scale the quake produced a seismic sea wave
(tsunami) felt as far away as Japan, Hawaii and California. On Easter Sunday Dover AFB
launched its first two C-124 missions in support of Operation Helping Hand; more Dover
missions would follow over the airlift’s 21 day duration. Our crew departed Dover on April
15th and proceeded to McGuire AFB to on-load vans and electric gen-erators. From
McGuire, with several stops en-route, our destination was McChord AFB, Washington.
Fol-lowing our crew rest we flew on to Elmendorf AFB. Considering the considerable
damage to the structures nearby, the landing and taxi-in at Elmendorf were uneventful as
the runway sustained little or no damaged. The tower was a total loss and a mobile unit
was being used for air traffic control. Hangar walls were cracked, warehouses were buckled
with their roofs collapsed and the eight story USAF hospital had re-ceived considerable

Having had a few extra hours added to our crew rest, before we were to proceed out the
Aleutian Chain to the Naval Air Station at Adak and further on to Shemya Island, we had
the chance to see the devastation first hand. I recall that Ship Creek, near the gate at
Elmendorf, was teaming with salmon not oblivious to their disruptive surroundings. In
Anchorage, homes, automobiles, movie theatres and department stores dis-appeared into
holes thirty or more feet deep. Literally, the bottom had dropped out of the city. Needless to
say an awesome sight to behold!


The C-124 was developed from 1947 to 1949 by Douglas Aircraft from a prototype created
from the WWII-design Douglas C-74 Globemaster and based on lessons learned in the
Berlin Airlift. The aircraft was powered by four large Pratt & Whitney R-4360 piston
engines producing 3,800 hp (2,800 kW) each. The C-124's design featured two large
clamshell doors and a hydraulically-actuated ramp in the nose as well as a cargo elevator
under the aft fuselage. The C-124 was capable of carrying 68,500 lb (31,100 kg) of cargo, and
the 77 ft (23 m) cargo bay featured two overhead hoists, each capable of lifting 8,000 lb
(3,600 kg). As a cargo hauler, it could carry tanks, guns, trucks and other heavy
equipment, while in its passenger-carrying role it could carry 200 fully equipped troops on
its double decks or 127 litter patients and their attendants. It was the only aircraft of its
time capable of transporting heavy equipment such as tanks and bulldozers without prior

The C-124 first flew on 27 November 1949, with the C-124A being delivered from May, 1950.
[1] The C-124C was next, featuring more powerful engines, and an APS-42 weather radar
fitted in a "thimble"-like structure on the nose. Wingtip-mounted combustion heaters were
added to heat the cabin, and enable wing and tail surface deicing. The C-124As were later
equipped with these improvements.

Operational history

First deliveries of the 448 production aircraft began in May 1950 and continued until 1955.
The C-124 was operational during the Korean War, and was also used to assist supply
operations for Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. They performed heavy lift cargo
operations for the US military worldwide, including flights to Southeast Asia, Africa and
elsewhere. From 1959 to 1961 they transported Thor missiles across the Atlantic to
England. The C-124 was also used extensively during the Vietnam War transporting
material from the U.S. to Vietnam. Until the C-5A became operational, the C-124 was the
only aircraft available that could transport very large loads.

The United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) was the initial operator of the C-
124 Globemaster, with 50 in service from 1950 through 1962. Four squadrons operated the
type, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Strategic Support Squadrons. Their primary
duty was to transport nuclear weapons between air bases and to provide airlift of
personnel and equipment during exercises and overseas deployments.

The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) was the primary operator until January 1966,
when the organization was retitled Military Airlift Command (MAC). Within a few years
following the formation of MAC, the last remaining examples were transferred to the Air
Force Reserve (AFRES) and the Air National Guard (ANG), said transfers being complete
by 1970. The first ANG unit to receive the C-124C was the last Air Force unit to retire their
aircraft (AF Serial No. 52-1066 & 53-0044) in September 1974.

Specifications (C-124 Globemaster II)

General characteristics
Crew: 6
Length: 130 ft (40 m)
Wingspan: 174 ft 1 in (53.06 m)
Height: 48 ft 4 in (14.7 m)
Wing area: 2,510 ft² (233.2 m²)
Empty weight: 100,000 lb (46,000 kg)
Loaded weight: 195,000 lb (88,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 216,000 lb (98,000 kg)
Powerplant: 4× Pratt & Whitney R-4360 "Wasp Major" radial engines, 3,800 hp (2,834 kW)
Maximum speed: 320 mph (280 kn, 520 km/h)
Range: 2,175 mi (1,890 nmi, 3,500 km)
Service ceiling: 34,000 ft (10,000 m)
Wing loading: 77.7 lb/ft² (379 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.078 hp/lb (128 W/kg)