Convair XC-99


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Convair XC-99

Max. speed 307mph, cruise 240-mph; ceiling 29,500 ft.; range 8,100 mi. Weights: 135,232 lbs. empty, 265,000 lbs. gross, 320,000 lbs. max. takeoff. Dimensions: Span 230 ft., length 182 ft. 6 in., wing area 4,772 sq. ft.

In the darkest days of 1941, when the U.S. feared the possibility of being cutoff from bases outside the Western Hemisphere by victorious Axis forces, the AAF issued a requirement for an aircraft termed the "Intercontinental Bomber," capable of flying 8,000 miles with 10,000 lbs. of bombs. Consolidated (became Convair in 1943) received one of the two development contracts awarded in late 1941 for its proposed Model 35 (later changed to Model 36), a six- engine pusher design, under the designation XB-36, then in 1942, under the assigned designation XC-99, the company was directed to design a transport variant that would utilize the same wing, powerplants, and empennage. The AAF authorized Consolidated to proceed with the detailed design of the XC-99 sometime in 1943, however, as with the XB-36 project, changing military priorities delayed actual construction to the extent that the war ended long before the XC-99 could be brought to completion, by which time the project was limited to one experimental prototype. Upon making its first flight on November 23, 1947, the XC-99, in terms of payload, was the largest landplane transport in the world. As originally built, the XC-99 featured the single-wheel main landing gear of the XB-36, restricting operations to only a few runways capable of supporting the weight. To overcome this limitation, it underwent modifications to receive the four- wheel, bogie- type main gear developed for the YB-36A.

Following factory testing, the XC-99 was delivered to the USAF for acceptance trials that were concluded in late 1949. Due to other large, long- range transport types already in service or on order (i.e., C-74, C-97A, and C-124), the XC-99 never became a strong candidate for production. Assigned to SAC for strategic logistical support, the XC-99 flew its first active service mission in July 1950, carrying a payload of 101,206 lbs. from Kelly AFB in Texas to McClelland AFB in California. Although occasionally used for other duties, the aircraft's primary job entailed hauling B-36 spares and components from Texas to California. After logging 7,400 hours of flying time, the XC-99 was retired from service in 1957. From the late 1950s to the mid-1990s, the aircraft was an outside exhibit open to the public at Kelly AFB, then in 2004, was disassembled and moved piece by piece to Wright- Patterson AFB in Ohio, where it is currently being restored by the USAF Museum as a future exhibit.

E.R.Johnson "American military transport aircraft since 1925", 2013

External links

Convair XC-99

 ENGINE6 x 3,500-hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360-41 Wasp Major 28-cylinder air- cooled radial engines
  Take-off weight145280 kg320289 lb
  Loaded weight120000 kg264556 lb
  Empty weight61395 kg135354 lb
  Payload400 troops or 45000kg of cargo882 lb
  Wingspan70.10 m230 ft 0 in
  Length55.63 m183 ft 6 in
  Wing area443.33 m24771.96 sq ft
  Max. speed494 km/h307 mph
  Cruise speed386 km/h240 mph
  Ceiling9000 m29550 ft
  Range13000 km8078 miles

Convair XC-99A three-view drawing (660 x 794)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80
Martin Coddington, e-mail, 28.10.2020 00:54

I was doing basic training at Lackland during February & March of 55. We would get to see the plane coming and going at Kelly. Our Tactical Instructor would try to get the formation in an area where no one was watching us and them halt the formation and go At Ease so we could watch the plane. Thanks Sarge!


Walter Wade, e-mail, 26.05.2017 21:50

I grew up just North of the McClellan middle marker beacon and right on the localizer. Twice a the XC-99 would come in for a landing. My mother's collection of salt and pepper shakers always danced around from the noise. My job was to straighten them out. Little did I realize what greatness I was witnessing.


leeroy meadows, e-mail, 15.05.2017 00:18

I have been on board this aircraft. It,s a work of art,when you consider the time period of its build. It,s a piece of history that should not be let rot somewhere.Find volunters to help. get the money from hillary for selling US uranium to russians, if we agree not to prosecute her, or sasha obama, where did she get 300 million?


James Raby, e-mail, 22.08.2016 21:53

My father walter Raby flew the xc 99 from 1952 to 1956 He is the only 99 pilot still living. They took the 99 to many airshows around the country and had big crowds of people where ever they went To this day the xc 99 is the largest piston powered land based plane to ever fly


WILLIAM GRIMSLEY, e-mail, 21.04.2016 02:25



James C. Wheeler, e-mail, 06.11.2015 18:05

While I did not work on the XC-99 I do have a few memories of it especially on it's takeoff, you did not have to see it to know what it was.
I arrived at Kelly in Feb. 1956 to the 19th LSS and the C-124's across the new runway along the east-west taxiway.
I do have a photo of the tail section of another (looks like an XC-99) with a Tail Number "3570", could this be the Model 37 mentioned at the top?
Take Care. James C. "Speedy" Wheeler MSgt Retired


Tommie Rusin Durst, e-mail, 23.07.2015 23:42

does anyone remember the names of the men that worked at KAFB on this plane, I think I remember that my late father did, it would be nice to know what part he played in it


MERRITT LAWLESS, e-mail, 22.02.2015 06:02

I was assigned to Ramey AFB as a Philco TechRep from 1956 thru 1958. It was a pleasure to see the giant XC-99 visit Ramey from time to time


Bob Kusterer, e-mail, 21.05.2014 00:00

I saw the XC-99 at Kelly in 1965 when I was going through OTS at Lackland. At the time, it was the biggest plane I had ever laid eyes on. It was in rough shape then after only 8 years since it's retirement. I can just imagine what it looked like when the AF museum finally decided to restore it.


Heidi Harber, e-mail, 15.03.2014 22:42

My dad , Eldridge Ellis Harber, worked at Kelly Air Force Base when my brother and I were growing up. He and two other guys were put in charge of the XC-99 project. He would take my brother and me with him when he would tinker with it. That plane was awesome. We would sit in the cockpit when a couple of F100s would take off ( the runway was across the little road from where the plane sat)and the XC would shake from the takeoff. Not to mention loud. We loved it. We played inside checking out everything we could.I went from the cockpit all the way to the bubble dome at the back. This thing was absolutely huge. My brother got out on the right wing and jumping around he got the plane to rock a little. I think I remember it was perched on concrete pillar things of some sort. My brother also fell out of the front landing gear section when he didnt get the door locked in place. We had many great times in that plane with Dad. It brings a tear to my eye to think that its now in corroded pieces. Being what it is and the ONLY ONE IN EXISTENCE, it should have recieved better attention. Some kind of a protective shelter should have been built over it when it sat at Kelly all them years. To know about this plane and its rarity makes me feel even more blessed to have the memories I do . To know my brother and I got to physically touch, see and play inside this monster plane of history is priceless. Thank you Dad for that experience and memories.I would love to have seen it in its glory flying. It was in the 70's that we got to do this. Hate seeing the pictures of it in pieces, possibly never being complete again. It was one friggin awesome plane.


Carl Plummer, e-mail, 24.12.2013 00:12

My father, Walter Harvey Plummer, showed me the aircraft at the North End of Kelly. Sad. It was in such disrepair. He told me he had been one of the few pilots of the aircraft and commented it was horribly under-powereed.


Carole Fleming, e-mail, 06.12.2013 21:26

My dad was Ken Smith. He was Convair's tech rep for the XC-99 and told me many "war" stories over the years.


ALLEN MILLER, e-mail, 02.11.2013 18:54

I sat in the Pilots seat when the aircraft was on static display at Kelly AFB in 1956, I was going through basic training at Lackland AFB at the time.TSGT Allen Miller USAF RET


Thomas C. Indoe, e-mail, 23.10.2013 06:11

I flew in this plane from Kelly AFB to Walker AFB at Roswell
New Mexico. I was a radar tail gunner on the B-36 and we had
taken our B-36-1079 to Kelly to get the White painted on the bottom of our plane. We left a skeleton crew there and the rest of us flew back to Walker AFB with several 4360 engines. This was a flying bowling alley with an extension
ladder to get up to the cock pit. What an experience this was and it was one I will never forget. I will cherish this flight as one of my best flights while serving in the United States Air Force.


kurt entress, e-mail, 25.06.2013 16:51

there is a very good picture of the XC99 at an air show in 1953 at the hutchinson NAS it is on the web site abandon little-known airfields


Francis K. Newman, e-mail, 16.11.2012 01:18

I was stationed at Kelly AFB from Aug '50 - Aug '51 and this big aircraft was about 300' from our barracks. It was such music to hear the engines fire up and then take-off. It was a unique aircraft, indeed.


Jim Hoak, e-mail, 31.10.2012 13:45

I saw this aircraft fly over while in U.S. Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB in June 1956. It flew out of Kelly AFB. Later was mechanic on B-36 ( similar aircraft ).


Jim Wells, e-mail, 28.10.2012 06:34

My brother and I saw this aircraft sometime between, 1959 or 1960. Our uncle, Herbert Eaton, a Staff Sgt. station at Kelly AFB, Took us to see this huge aircraft. I was only 8 or 9 at the time. I'll never forget the sheer size of it. What an experience for a young kid from the Rio grande valley. We were told that the machcanics were able to walk in the wings while in flight to check the hydraulics. Wow a memory that will be with me always!


Tom Clark, e-mail, 29.07.2012 06:40

I THINK I first saw the xc99 at Wright Field from Airway Road in 1954. It was parked in the same area where it now lies in pieces. (I know I also saw it parked at Kelly AFB in 1964 while stationed at Lackland AFB.) Can anyone support or confirm what I think I saw at WPAFB?


jeff patton, e-mail, 15.06.2012 19:42

My father, Gene M. Patton, flew this aircraft from Kelly AFB in the mid 50's. One complaint about the a /c was it was slow. It was scheduled to receive jet engines on the outboard of the wings like the late model B-36s had but a crack was discovered in the wing box which was deemed unrepairable and the aircraft was grounded. It sat slowly deteriorating at Kelly AFB for several decades until General Dynamics (formally Convair) agreed to transport teh aircraft to Ft Worth for restoration for display but not for flying.


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