Aviation News Journal
Twin-Boom Transport Aircraft
Text by Divan Muller
Twin-boom transport aircraft may be virtually extinct in our modern times, but not so long ago; they were a fairly common sight around the world. These aircraft benefitted from easy access for cargo, through large doors which were unobstructed by tail assemblies. On the ground, these aircraft had a relatively low tailfin height, whilst in flight, cargo or parachutists could be dropped from the unobstructed rear fuselage.
During the 1920s and 1930s, American engineer Vincent Burnelli developed several interesting-looking aircraft and pioneered the 'lifting body', a concept in which the aircraft's fuselage itself produced lift. One of his more notable designs was the UB-14. The first of three examples completed its maiden flight in 1934. Although not designed as a dedicated transport aircraft, the twin-boom lifting body airliner could carry a fair amount of cargo. A licence-built version of the UB-14 was used as French General Charles de Gaulle's personal aircraft during World War II. Burnelli used the UB-14 concept to develop the CBY-3 Loadmaster. One example of this twin-boom transport aircraft was built in Canada in 1944. The CBY-3 showed tremendous potential, but failed to attract any orders. Despite the fact that the aircraft type never entered production, the prototype was used as a commercial transport aircraft until the mid-1960s.
Fairchild C-82 and C-119
As World War II raged in Europe during the early 1940s, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) realised that it needed a new dedicated transport aircraft to replace the aircraft in its wartime inventory, which were originally developed as commercial airliners. As an answer to this requirement, Fairchild Aircraft produced the C-82 Packet. The prototype first flew in September 1944, with the first examples entering service with the USAAF as World War II came to an end in 1945. Although it failed to have an impact on World War II, the C-82 played a more important role during the subsequent Berlin Airlift. The USAAF retired its fleet in 1954, but the aircraft continued to serve several operators in North and South America. Unlike Burnelli's CBY-3, which was developed at the same time, the C-82 was fairly successful, with more than 220 examples built.
That said, to a large extent, the C-82 could be seen as an initial development of a vastly more capable and successful transport aircraft, namely the C-119 Flying Boxcar. The C-119 was a complete redesign of the C-82 and featured a stronger airframe and more powerful engines. Fairchild's new aircraft completed its maiden flight in November 1947, after which almost 1 200 examples were built. C-119s saw widespread use all over the world, whilst serving more than a dozen air forces. U.S.
Air Force (USAF) aircraft were used extensively as tactical transport aircraft during the Korean War of the early 1950s. Later during the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s, C-119s were used in a different role, when about fifty aircraft were converted to AC-119 gunship variants. Aircraft known as 'Shadows' were armed with four 7.62 mm Miniguns, whilst 'Stingers' were armed with two additional Vulcan 20 mm cannons. All of these aircraft were left in South Vietnam when the USA withdrew from the conflict.
Fairchild developed one more twin-boom transport aircraft worth mentioning. In 1950, engineers effectively removed the lover half of a C-119's fuselage. The remaining fuselage was raised, allowing the aircraft to carry large cargo pods. Only one prototype was built, but the aircraft, named the XC-120 Packplane, never entered production.
Meanwhile in Europe, France realised that it too needed to replace its World War II era Douglas C-47s and Junkers Ju-52s. Nord Aviation responded with the Nord 2500, which first flew in September 1949. The Armée de l'Air (ADA - French Air Force) considered it too slow and underpowered, but a second prototype, the Nord 2501, proved to meet all of the ADA's requirements. The aircraft entered production as the Nord Noratlas, with a total of more than 420 examples built for more than twenty military and civilian operators. Despite the fact that it was designed specifically to serve as a transport aircraft, the Noratlas was used in a variety of roles. The Israeli Air Force, for example, used its aircraft as maritime patrol platforms and even as long range bombers.
Armstrong Whitworth Argosy
Britain's contribution to the world of twin-boom transport aircraft came in the form of the Armstrong Whitworth Company’s final aircraft, the Argosy. It was the result of an Air Ministry requirement announced in 1955, which called for the development of a military transport aircraft, which would also meet civil aviation requirements. In order to reduce development costs, the Argosy's wings were based on those of the Avro Shackleton, whilst the engines and nacelles were similar to those of a Vickers Viscount. It has also been speculated that its twin booms were identical to Gloster Meteor fuselages. Seventeen civilian variants, designated AW650s, were built, whilst 56 military AW660s were built for the Royal Air Force. Civil aircraft saw service with a variety of operators in ten countries. Despite its lack of commercial success, which was mainly due to its cost-cutting production process, the Argosy still proved to be a capable aircraft. That said, a pilot once described landing the Argosy as "landing a cottage from the bedroom window."
What to Expect at AirVenture 2022
The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) AirVenture, often simply referred to as ‘Oshkosh’ or ‘the convention’, is the largest aviation event in the world. The first EAA fly-ins were held in the 1950s in Milwaukee, WI, and later in Rockford, IL. In 1969, it was moved to what is today known as Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI, due to the dramatic increase in size of the event. Every year, the annual convention’s attendance grew at a tremendous rate. A few years ago, in 2018, the last time the ANJ team attended the event, more than 600 000 people attended the fly-in. About 40,000 visitors, including us, camped at the airport. A record number of 2,714 visitors from 87 countries registered at the international visitors’ tent. The actual number of international visitors was higher, as registration was voluntary and, given the multitude of distractions, not everyone made it to the tent. Even so, Canada took the top position on the list of countries represented by international visitors (538), with Australia (386) and South Africa (277) placing second and third respectively. No less than 976 journalists from six continents covered the AirVenture. More than 10,000 aircraft flew in to Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin. Also that year, there were almost 3,000 showplanes present, not to mention almost 900 commercial exhibitors, as well asnumerous forums, workshops and presentations. That was by no means a ground-breaking year, as these incredible numbers are quite normal during the annual convention. That said, what can visitors expect at this year’s edition of AirVenture? Frankly, too much to mention, but here are a few elements unique to AirVenture 2022:
The 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force will be one of the highlights of this year’s convention, which will be held from July 25 - 31 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. The current list of military aircraft at the show include:
- C-5 Galaxy
- C-17 Globemaster III
- F-16 Fighting Falcon
- KC-46 Pegasus
- HH-60 Pavehawk
- AH-64 Apache
- UH-60 Blackhawk
- MH-47 Chinook
- AH-6 Little Bird
- T-38 Talon
The 50th anniversary of Van’s Aircraft RV series, which has become the world’s most popular kit airplane, will be a major element of homebuilt aircraft activities at AirVenture. Celebrations will include: special Van’s RV parking areas in the AirVenture homebuilt aircraft area, multiple forums and workshops focused on RV aircraft throughout the week, RV aircraft flying during the AirVenture airshows, a July 25 evening program at Theater in the Woods with VanGrunsven, highlighting the history of the company that began as a backyard shop in Oregon.
RV aircraft - Ed Hicks / EAA
The EAA Young Eagles program, the largest youth aviation program ever created, will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Throughout the week, the goal is to fly at least 30 Young Eagles during AirVenture. Additional flights will take place in EAA’s powered parachute in the Fun Fly Zone.
Doc, one of two airworthy Boeing B-29s in the world, will be returning to Oshkosh this year for airshow appearances and static displays during the week. While the exact appearance schedule is still being finalized, the aircraft will be parked on Boeing Plaza for public view when on the AirVenture grounds. The World War II-era bomber will help commemorate the U.S. Air Force’s 75th anniversary at Oshkosh in 2022. AirVenture will feature aircraft from throughout the Air Force’s history, from its creation out of the Army Air Forces in 1947 to today’s modern military aircraft.
Over the course of the convention, nine air shows over seven days, including night airshows on July 27 and 30. Performers currently on the schedule include:
- AeroShell Aerobatic Team (T-6)
- Chuck Aaron (helicopter aerobatics)
- Eric Edgren (T-Clips)
- Kyle Fowler (Rutan Long-EZ)
- Kyle Franklin Comedy Act (Piper Super Cub)
- Mike Goulian (Extra 330C)
- Nathan Hammond (Super Chipmunk)
- David Martin (Beechcraft Baron)
- Patriot Parachute Team
- Jim Peitz (Beechcraft 33C Bonanza)
- RAD Aerosports Jet Waco w/ Dell Coller
- Red Bull Air Force (Kirby Chambliss, Aaron Fitzgerald, Kevin Coleman, and more)
- Red Line Air Shows (RV-8 and Extra)
- Bill Stein (Zivko Edge 540)
- Skip Stewart (Pitts S2S Prometheus)
- Trojan Phlyers (T-28s)
- Patty Wagstaff (Extra 300S)
- Matt Younkin (Twin Beech)
Have a look at our AirVenture coverage from 2018.