Boeing C-135 Stratolifter
|C-135C Speckled Trout|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||August 17, 1956|
|Primary user||United States Air Force|
|Unit cost||US$39.6 million (FY98 constant dollars)|
|Developed from||Boeing 367-80|
OC-135B Open Skies
WC-135 Constant Phoenix
The Boeing C-135 Stratolifter is a transport aircraft derived from the prototype Boeing 367-80 jet airliner (also the basis for the 707) in the early 1950s. It has a narrower fuselage and is shorter than the 707. Boeing gave the aircraft the internal designation of Model 717. Since the first one was built in August 1956, the C-135 has been a visible fixture of the United States Air Force.
A large majority of the 820 units were developed as KC-135A Stratotankers for mid-air refueling. However, they have also performed numerous transport and special-duty functions. Forty-five base-model aircraft were built as C-135A or C-135B transports with the tanking equipment excluded. As is the case with the KC-135, the C-135 is also recognized as the Model 717 by Boeing.
Fifteen C-135As, powered by Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojets, were built. In later years, almost all were upgraded with Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines and wide-span tail planes, and were re-designated C-135E. Later on most of the C-135Es were re-engined again, using the more powerful turbofan engine, the CFM International F108 (CFM56).
Thirty C-135Bs were built with the TF33 turbofans and wide-span tail planes from the start, and a small number remain in service in their original form. A number of these were modified for a weather reconnaissance (flying through radioactive clouds from nuclear tests or other agents) role and designated WC-135B Constant Phoenix.
The C-135C designation applies to three WC-135B weather reconnaissance aircraft, which reverted to transport status. Most of the other C-135Bs were converted to various special mission variants following their service with the Military Airlift Command.
Although most of the remaining C-135 aircraft are used for transporting senior military leaders and other high-ranking dignitaries, the C-135C communications aircraft serves as an aerial test-bed for emerging technologies. Developmental tests using this aircraft have demonstrated the capability to fly precision approaches using a local area differential GPS system. This modified C-135 has been fitted with a millimeter wave camera and a radome to test the camera’s generation of video images of the forward scene in low-visibility conditions. The aircraft, which in the VIP/Distinguished Visitor (DV) transport role seats 14 passengers, also gives a Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) a limited ability to plan and control the simulated battle while in the air en route to the crisis area.
Speckled Trout 
Speckled Trout is the official name of a combined SAF/CSAF support mission and concurrent test mission. It was also the official nickname given to a modified C-135C, serial number 61-2669, that was used by the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force for executive transport requirements. Fully equipped with an array of communications equipment, data links and cryptographic sets, the aircraft served a secondary role as a testbed for proposed command and control systems and was also used to evaluate future transport aircraft design. The 412th Flight Test Squadron (412 FLTS) of the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) at Edwards AFB, California operated the C-135 Speckled Trout airframe and managed its test mission.
The name Speckled Trout applies to both the organization and the aircraft. The name was chosen in honor of an early program monitor, Faye Trout, who assisted in numerous phases of the project. The word "speckled" was added because Trout apparently had "a lot of freckles."
Speckled Trout acquired the C-135C, serial number 61-2669, in 1974 and retired the aircraft on 13 Jan 2006. An interim aircraft was in use for the Speckled Trout mission until the 2008 delivery of the current aircraft, a modified KC-135R Stratotanker serial number 63-7980 with a more modern communications architecture testbed. The current KC-135R Speckled Trout also supports additional tests and air refueling requirements that the C-135C could not.
- Cargo/passenger variant of the KC-135A with seat for 126 passengers and powered by four J-57-P-59W engines, 18 built. It is given the model number 717-157.
- The same as C-135A but fitted with four TF-33-P-56 turbofan engines, 30 built. The five VC-135B special VIP fitted aircraft were re-designated C-135B during the Carter administration. It is given the model number 717-158.
- Three C-135B aircraft that had been modified to WC-135B standard were later de-modified but retained an air-to-air refuelling capacity so were designated C-135C.
- Three C-135A aircraft modified with four TF-33-PW-102 engines and then used as EC-135Ns were later re-designated C-135E for use in the combat support role.
- Tanker variant for France similar to the KC-135A but did not use the K prefix, 12 built. It is given the model number 717-164.
- One former EC-135K modified for VIP use for CINCPAC.
- Eleven French C-135F tanker aircraft modified with four CFM56 engines.
Accidents and Incidents 
- 25 June 1965: A United States Marine Corps C-135A carrying 85 USMC personnel was flying from MCAS El Toro to Okinawa. The plane crashed after takeoff killing all personnel.
Specifications (C-135) 
- Crew: 3: pilot, copilot, boom operator (4 for non-PACER CRAG aircraft)
- Length: 136 ft 3 in (41.53 m)
- Wingspan: 130 ft 10 in (39.88 m)
- Height: 41 ft 8 in (12.70 m)
- Wing area: 2,433 ft² (226 m²)
- Empty weight: 98,466 lb (44,663 kg)
- Loaded weight: 297,000 lb (135,000 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 322,500 lb (146,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 4 × (R/T) CFM International CFM56 high-bypass turbofan engines, 21,634 lbf (96 kN) each (re-engined variants)
- Powerplant: 4× (E) Pratt & Whitney TF-33-PW-102 low-bypass turbofan engines , 18,000 lbf (80 kN) each
- Maximum speed: 580 mph (933 km/h)
- Range: 3,450 mi (5,550 km)
- Service ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,200 m)
- Rate of climb: 4,900 ft/min (1,490 m/min)
See also 
- Related development
- Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
- Boeing EC-135
- Boeing NC-135
- Boeing RC-135
- Boeing OC-135B Open Skies
- WC-135 Constant Phoenix
- Boeing C-137 Stratoliner
- Boeing 707
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- "Historical Perspective, Start of a PROUD MISSION", Boeing Frontiers, July 2006.
- "KC-135". US Warplanes.net. Retrieved December 17, 2012.
- Air Force article on Speckled Trout retirement
- DoD 4120.14L, Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles, May 12, 2004
- Pither 1998, pp. 62-86
- Eden, Paul (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. London, UK: Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9.
- Pither, Tony (1998). The Boeing 707 720 and C-135. England: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-236-X.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: C-135 Stratolifter|
- C-135 page at Globalsecurity.org