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Air Force Military Aircraft: C-123 Provider, Images by Wernher Krutein and PHOTOVAULT®

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The C-123 Provider is a short-range assault transport used to airlift troops and cargo onto short runways and unprepared airstrips. Designed by the Chase Aircraft Co. the C-123 evolved from earlier designs for large assault gliders. The first prototype XC-123 made its initial flight on October 14, 1949 powered by two piston engines. A second prototype was built as the XG-20 glider. It later was test-flown, powered by four jet engines.

The production version, with two piston engines, was designated the C-123B. Chase began manufacture in 1953, but the production contract was transferred to Fairchild. The first of more than 300 Fairchild built C-l23Bs entered service in July 1955. Between 1966 and 1969, 164 C-l23Bs were converted to C-l23Ks by adding two J85 jet engines for improved performance. It may look familiar as this is the aircraft type used in many of todays action films.

The plane was designed to fly from short, unprepared runways and incorporated a rear ramp for parachute jumps, cargo drops and parachute drag unloading. The plane could carry most Army wheeled vehicles and howitzers. The C-123 was used extensively in Viet Nam as the primary Agent Orange defoliant spray ship. A modified C-123 served as General William Westmoreland's executive transport. No fuel is carried in the wings of the aircraft. All of it is carried in the engine nacelles or wing drop tanks to reduce the chance of fire in combat. This attributed to the Provider's relatively short combat radius.
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