During the 1950s the versatile Lockheed C-130 Hercules was originally designed as an assault transportbut was adapted for a variety of missions, including: special operations (low-level and attack), close air support and air interdiction, mid-air space capsule recovery, search and rescue (SAR), aerial refueling of helicopters, weather mapping and reconnaissance, electronic surveillance, fire fighting, aerial spraying, Arctic/Antarctic ice resupply and natural disaster relief missions.

Currently, the Hercules primarily performs the intratheater portion of the tactical airlift mission. This medium-range aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for paratroop and equipment drops into hostile areas.

The C-130 design employs a cargo floor at truck-bed height above the ground, an integral "roll on/roll off" rear loading ramp, and an unobstructed, fully-pressurized cargo hold which can rapidly be reconfigured for the carriage of troops, stretchers or passengers. The Hercules can also be committed for airdrops of troops or equipment and for LAPES(Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System) delivery of heavy cargo.• Cargo Compartment - The C-130 can carry more than 42,000 pounds (19,051kg) of cargo. Rollers in the floor of the cargo compartment enable quick and easy handling of cargo pallets and can be removed to leave a flat surface, if needed. Five 463L pallets (plus a ramp pallet for baggage) may be loaded onto the aircraft through the hydraulically-operated main loading ramp/door assembly located in the rear of the aircraft. The ramp can also be lowered to the ground for loading and unloading of wheeled vehicles. Tie-down fittings for securing cargo are located throughout the compartment.
In its personnel carrier role, the C-130 can accommodate 92 combat troops or 64 fully-equipped paratroopers on side-facing, webbed seats. For aeromedical evacuations, it can carry 74 litter patients and two medical attendants.
• Aerial Delivery of Cargo - Three primary methods of aerial delivery are used for equipment or supplies. In the first, parachutes pull the load, weighing up to 42,000pounds (19,051kg), from the aircraft. When the load is clear of the plane, cargo parachutes deploy and lower the load to the ground.
The second method, called the Container Delivery System (CDS), uses the force of gravity to pull from one to 16 bundles of supplies from the aircraft. When the bundles, weighing up to 2,200 pounds (998kg) each, are out of the aircraft, parachutes deploy and lower them to the ground.
LAPES is the third aerial delivery method. With LAPES, up to 38,000 pounds (17,237kg) of cargo is pulled from the aircraft by large cargo parachutes while the aircraft is five to 10 feet (3m) above the ground. The load then slides to a stop within a very short distance.
• Wings and Fuel Tanks - The full cantilever wing contains four integral main fuel tanks and two bladder-type auxiliary tanks. Two external tanks are mounted under the wings. This gives the C-130 a total usable fuel capacity of approximately 9,530 gallons.
• Landing Gear - The modified tricycle-type landing gear consists of dual nose gear wheels and tandem mains and permits aircraft operation from rough, unimproved runways. Main gear retraction is vertically, into fuselage blister fairings, and the nose gear folds forward into the fuselage. Power steering is incorporated into the nose gear.
• Electrical Systems - AC electrical power for the C-130H model is provided by five 40 KVA generators, 4 driven by the engines and one driven by the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). On the E-model, the power is supplied by four 40 KVA engine-driven generators, and a 20 KVAgenerator driven by the Air Turbine Motor (ATM). DC power is provided from AC sources through four 200ampere transformer rectifiers and one 24 volt, 36 ampere-hour battery.
• Hydraulic Systems - Four engine-driven pumps supply 3,000 psi pressure to the utility and booster systems. An electric AC motor-driven pump supplies pressure to the auxiliary system and is backed up by a hand pump. The hydraulic system maintains constant pressure during zero or negative "g" maneuvers.

The C-130 Hercules is arguably the most versatile tactical transport aircraft ever built. Its uses appear almost limitless: airlift and airdrop, electronic surveillance, search and rescue, space-capsule recovery, helicopter refueling, landing (with skis) on snow and ice, and aerial attack. It has even landed and taken off from a carrier deck without benefit of arresting gear or catapults.
Official Designation C-130 Hercules
Unofficial Nicknames Herk, Herky Bird, Slick, Fat Albert
Primary Role Intratheater tactical airlift (See below for other roles)
Original Contractor Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co.
Operator Over 60 nations worldwide, including the United States
Wingspan 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4m)
Length 97 feet, 9 inches (29.7m)
Height at Tail 38 feet, 3 inches (11.6m)
Cargo Hold Length: 52 feet (15.8m);
Width: 10 feet, 3 inches (3.1m);
Height: 9 feet (2.7m)
Horsepower 4,300 shp per engine
Cruise Speed 374 mph (602km/h; Mach 0.5)
Max Speed Unknown
Range 2,047 nm (3,791km) with max payload; 4,522 nm (8,375km) empty
Service Ceiling 33,000 feet (10,058m)
Operating Weight 83,000 pounds (37,648kg)
Fuel Capacity 60,000 pounds (27,216kg)
Max Payload 45,000 pounds (20,412kg)
Number of 463L Pallets Five, plus a baggage pallet on the ramp
Max Takeoff Weight 155,000 pounds (70,307kg)
Basic Crew Five (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, flight engineer, loadmaster)
Date Deployed April 1955
Total in Service Over 2,100 aircraft worldwide

Additional Roles Specialized Model/Variant
Attack Gunship AC-130 (Spectre/Spooky II)

Drone Control DC-130

Combat Communications C-130B (Talking Bird)

Command and Control EC-130E (ABCCC / Commando Solo)

Electronic Warfare EC-130H (Compass Call)

Maritime Patrol HC-130H, EC-130V

Arctic/Antarctic Support LC-130 (formerly C-130D)

Special Operations MC-130E/H (Combat Talon), MC-130P (Combat Shadow)

Aerial Refueling HC-130N/P, MC-130E, MC-130P, KC-130

Search and Rescue HC-130N/P, HC-130H, EC-130V

Weather Reconnaissance WC-130