Convair 131 Samaritan


Military version of the Convair 240/340/440 series of twin-engine commercial airliners. The first Samaritan, a C-131A derived from the Convair 240, was delivered to the Air Force in 1954. It was primarily used by the USAF for aeromedical casualty evacuation. The C-131A had large loading doors for stretchers or cargo and was equipped to accommodate 27 stretchers or 37 sitting casualties. In later years, some Samaritans were converted to be used as VIP staff transports under the designation VC-131H.

Nearly all of the USAF’s C-131s left the active inventory in the late-1970s, with a few still serving in Air National Guard units until the mid-1980s.

Note: The first prototype of the Southeast Asia vintage side-firing gunship program used the C-131 airframe.


Official DesignationC-131D Samaritan
Unofficial NicknamesThunder Chicken
Primary RoleMilitary transport
Secondary RoleStaff transport
National OriginUSA
Original ContractorConvair (General Dynamics)
Wingspan105 feet, 4 inches
Length79 feet, 2 inches
Height at Tail28 feet
EnginesTwo Pratt & Whitney R-2800-103W radials
Horsepower2,500 shp each (with water/alcohol injection)
Cruise Speed227 mph
Max Speed314 mph
Range2,200 miles
Service Ceiling32,000 feet
Operating WeightUnknown
Max PayloadUnknown
Max Takeoff Weight52,414 pounds
Date Deployed1954
Total ProducedUnknown