Home Book Reviews Book Review – Lockheed C-141 Starlifter

Book Review – Lockheed C-141 Starlifter

by Matt Falcus

A new book from Key Publishing’s growing collection of aviation titles is on the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter – one of the most iconic and capable transport aircraft to have graced our skies.

The book, by Bob Archer, is a relatively short 96 pages, but covers the entire story of the aircraft which first graced our skies in 1964, and remained in active service until May 2006.

The book’s introduction chapter expands on just how important the Starlifter was, claiming there was one active every minute of the day, and during its five decades of service some 10,611,720 flight hours were logged by the type.


About the Starlifter

William G. Holder, USAF, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The C-141 Starlifter was a large four-engine transport developed by Lockheed at its Marietta ‘Air Force Plant 6’ production facility to satisfy a need by the US Air Force for a versatile airlifter capable of a variety of roles.

Some 284 examples were ordered by the Air Force between 1961 and 1967.

The first, with serial 61-2775, was unveiled by President John F Kennedy on 23 August 1963.

By April 1966, a hundred examples had already been built, with another 126 built in 1967 alone. Production ended in 1968, with no further customers for the type despite Lockheed and Lufthansa proposing a civilian variant.

Initially flying for the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), this later became the Military Airlift Command (MAC). It saw the C-141 based at many US air bases, and operating globally.

The Vietnam war created huge demand for the airlift capabilities of Starlifter, which were regularly staging across the Pacific to the war zone. It was also heavily involved in support for the homecoming operation.

Today no active examples remain, with most of the fleet sent to the Davis-Monthan AFB for storage and disposal.

There are, however, a number in museum collections and preserved as gate guardians, to commemorate this important and well-liked aircraft.


The Book

This book includes eight chapters, covering the story of the C-141 Starlifter from its inception through development, testing, entry into service, operational history and decommissioning. It includes sections on the Starlifter’s use in Vietnam, Antarctica, and the different operating units of the type.

There are over 170 photographs, with many detail shots and coverage of all the different liveries worn by the type. A rare shot shows the proposed civilian development, also.

This is a good, well-researched book covering an interesting aircraft type.


Available now from Pen & Sword and other good stockists.




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