McDonnell Douglas C-9
|C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain II|
|A C-9B Skytrain II of the US Navy|
|National origin||United States|
|Retired||September 2005 (USAF C-9A); |
July 2014 (USN C-9B)
|Status||In limited service|
|Primary users||United States Air Force (historical)|
United States Navy (historical)
United States Marine Corps
Kuwait Air Force (historical)
|Developed from||McDonnell Douglas DC-9|
The McDonnell Douglas C-9 is a military version of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliner. It was produced as the C-9A Nightingale for the United States Air Force, and the C-9B Skytrain II for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The final flight of the C-9A Nightingale was in September 2005, and the C-9C was retired in September 2011. The U.S. Navy retired its last C-9B in July 2014. Two C-9Bs remain in service with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Design and development
In 1966, the U.S. Air Force identified a need for an aeromedical transport aircraft and ordered C-9A Nightingale aircraft the following year. Deliveries began in 1968. The U.S. Air Force received 21 C-9A aircraft from 1968 to 1969. The C-9As were used for medical evacuation, passenger transportation, and special missions from 1968 to 2005. The C-9A were named for English social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), the founder of modern nursing.
After selecting a modified DC-9 for passenger and cargo transport, the U.S. Navy ordered its first five C-9Bs, bureau numbers 159030 thru 1590340 in April 1972. However, since the Air Force in the early 1970s, under the Military Airlift Command, was responsible for moving military personnel from place to place this order was canceled.
The Navy documented to Congress that their people were being given last seating on Air Force flights. Congress authorized the Navy to fly its own passenger/cargo jets shortly thereafter. The Navy order eight aircraft, bureau numbers 159113 thru 159120. The first four went to VR-30 at NAS Alameda in California for west coast logistical support while the second four went to VR-1 at Norfolk in Virginia for east coast support. An additional six aircraft, bureau numbers 160046 through 160051 were delivered to the Navy and the Marine Corp in 1976 with the first two aircraft being delivered to the Marine Corp at MCAS Cherry Point, the second two delivered to VR-1 at NAS Norfolk and the last two delivered to VR-30 at NAS Alameda. An additional ten more new and ten used DC-9s were purchased and converted to C-9B for the Navy. The last C-9B to fly for the Navy was retired on 28 June 2014.
The C-9B aircraft have provided cargo and passenger transportation as well as forward deployed air logistics support for the Navy and Marine Corps. (The original "Skytrain" was the World War II era C-47 developed from the civilian DC-3.) A C-9B was also chosen by NASA for reduced gravity research, replacing the aging KC-135 Vomit Comet.
Many of the Navy's C-9Bs had a higher maximum gross take-off weight of 110,000 lb (50,000 kg). Auxiliary fuel tanks were installed in the lower cargo hold to augment the aircraft's range to nearly 2,600 nautical miles (4,800 km) for overseas missions, along with the addition of tail mounted infrared scramblers to counter heat seeking missile threats in hostile environments.
- C-9A Nightingale - 21 aeromedical evacuation aircraft based on the DC-9-32CF for U.S. Air Force delivered during 1968–69. One was converted for executive transport and stationed at Chievres, Belgium; a second aircraft was converted for VIP transport by the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base.
- C-9B Skytrain II - 24 convertible passenger/transport versions of the DC-9-32CF for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps delivered from 1973 to 1976. Five more C-9s were converted from passenger configured DC-9s.
- VC-9C - 3 executive transport aircraft for the U.S. Air Force; these were delivered in 1976 and served until 2011.
- C-9K - 2 aircraft for the Kuwait Air Force.
There have been no class-a mishaps involving a C-9B, making it one of the safest aircraft in the Navy. The U.S. Air Force lost a single C-9A in a fatal crash that killed the three-man crew on a training flight in 1971 near Scott AFB.
Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power
- Crew: 5 to 8
- Capacity: 76
- Length: 119 ft 3 in (36.36 m)
- Wingspan: 93 ft 5 in (28.42 m)
- Height: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
- Wing area: 1,001 ft² (92.97 m²)
- Empty weight: 59,700 lb (27,080 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 110,000 lb (49,900 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9 turbofan, 14,500 lbf (64.5 kN) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.84 (576 mph, 927 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 504 mph (485 knots, 811 km/h)
- Range: 2,900 mi (4,700 km)
- Service ceiling: 37,000 ft (11,000 m)
- Rate of climb: 3,000+ ft/min (900+ m/min)
Aircraft on display
- C-9A (AF serial number 67-22584) is the first C-9A accepted for the Military Airlift Command, and was additionally the first American jet aircraft specifically designed for medical evacuation. It is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.
- C-9A (AF serial number 71-0877) is on display at Scott AFB, Illinois
- C-9A (AF serial number 71-0878) is on display in front of Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center at Lackland AFB, Texas
- VC-9C (AF serial number 73-1682) is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB, Delaware
- VC-9C (AF serial number 73-1681) is on display at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California and was used by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton
- VC-9C (AF serial number 73-1683) is on display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon
- C-9B (Navy 163511), last operated by VR-46 in Marietta, GA, is on display at Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- "Historic C-9 heads to Andrews for retirement". US Air Force, 24 September 2005.
- Rogoway, Tyler. "The US Navy Finally Retires The C-9B Skytrain II After 41 Years".
- Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Air Power. New York, NY: Crescent Books, 1986. ISBN 0-517-49969-X.
- Birtles, Philip. Douglas DC-9, pp. 109, 116–120, Airlife Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84037-318-0.
- McEntee, Marni (August 5, 2003). "Air Force retiring Nightingale fleet". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos--Third Series (156170 to 160006)". www.joebaugher.com. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos--Third Series (160007 to 163049)". joebaugher.com. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- "Navy says farewell to the C-9 Skytrain II aircraft". navair.navy.mil. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
- The History of C-9B Reduced Gravity Research Program Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine.. NASA/JSC, March 25, 2008
- C-9 Skytrain fact file. US Navy, 15 April 2005.
- Becher, Thomas. Douglas Twinjets, DC-9, MD-90, MD-90 and Boeing 717, pp. 170–176, Crowood Press, Aviation Series, 2002. ISBN 1-86126-446-1.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-08-14. Drummer, Janene L. and Wilcoxson, Kathryn A. "Chronological History of the C-9A Nightingale." March 2001. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
- "Tour Air Force One". www.castleairmuseum.org. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to C-9 Nightingale.|
- C-9 Skytrain fact file and C-9 history page on U.S. Navy site
- C-9 Nightingale page and C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain pages on U.S. Air Force site
- C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain GlobalSecurity.org
- "Goodbye to an era", deploymentlink.osd.mil, Fall 2003
- Air Mobility Command: The Chronological History of the C-9A Nightingale
- Air Mobility Command Museum: C-9A/C Nightingale
- AMARC Experience: McDonnell Douglas C-9A Nightingale