The C-119 Flying Boxcar, developed
from the Fairchild C-82 Packet, was a
twin-engine, twin-boom, twin-tail transport designed to carry cargo, personnel,
litter patients, and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by
parachute (utilizing its "clamshell" cargo doors in the rear cockpit). The
first C-119 made its maiden flight in November 1947 and by the time production
ceased in 1955, more than 1,150 C-119s had been built. The USAF used the airplane
extensively during the Korean Conflict as a transport. In South Vietnam, the
airplane once again entered combat, this time in the ground support role as the
AC-119G "Shadow" and AC-119K "Stinger" gunships
mounting side-firing weapons capable of unleashing up to 6,000 rounds per minute per gun.
When acting as a transport, the C-119 could carry up to 62 fully-equipped
troops or a 30,000 pound cargo load.
Perhaps the Boxcar's most notable feat happened when it made the world's
first mid-air recovery of a capsule
returning from outer space. This occurred southwest of Honolulu, Hawaii on 19
August 1960 when it snagged the chute attached to the Discovery XIV satellite
at an altitude of 8,000 feet.