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Fairchild C-82 Packet and C-119 Flying Boxcar

by Alwyn T. Lloyd, Midland Publishing, Hersham, Surrey, United Kingdom, 2005, $36.95.

Boeing’s B-47 Stratojet

by Alwyn T. Lloyd, Specialty Press, North Branch, Minn., 2005, $39.95.

Writing with the methodical precision of an expert engineer, Alwyn T. Lloyd has given the reading public authoritative volumes on a variety of aviation topics. Two books published in the past year, exploring Fairchild’s C-82 and the workhorse C-119 and then Boeing’s B-47, a Cold War stalwart, should be valuable additions to any aviation library.

Like all pre–jet age transports, the twin-boomers from Fairchild were underpowered. Worse, they were under-loved, except by those who had accumulated many hours in them. Yet the Packet and the Flying Boxcar rendered sterling service to the U.S. Air Force. Lloyd begins with the origins of the C-82, one of the first American cargo aircraft to be designed focusing on ease in loading and offloading. Fairchild opted for a high-wing, twin-boom approach, since it allowed a boxcar-shaped fuselage with relatively easy access. There were penalties involved, of course, in terms of drag and the requirement for a stalky landing gear.

Lloyd gives detailed coverage of the structure and equipment of both aircraft, but his real strength is in documenting their use in combat. The C-119’s remarkable contributions during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir may fairly be credited with saving the day for embattled U.S. Army and Marine units. The Boxcar units that flew almost continuously to drop ammunition and supplies were recognized with the first U.S. Air Force Distinguished Unit Citations to be awarded in the Korean War.

C-119s thinly disguised with French insignia but flown by American crews did much to prolong the bloody conflict at Dien Bien Phu. Lloyd includes an account of “Earthquake McGoon”—James B. McGovern Jr.—a legendary figure who was destined to die in an epic final mission.

Perhaps the most unexpected and most important aspect of the C-119 saga came about in Vietnam, when the veteran workhorses were reequipped to become gunships with devastating firepower. The C-119s’ service in Vietnam alone surely justified all the effort that had gone into their development over the years.

Lloyd gives details of C-82 and C-119 service in the U.S. Navy and Marines as well as in many other air forces, including Belgium, Canada, China, France, India, South Korea and Vietnam. He also follows Packets and Boxcars as they entered civil service, often boosted by a jet pod on the top or two jets slung under the wings. Lloyd’s attention to detail is apparent in six data-filled appendices, telling anyone all they might need to know about the aircraft, from production specifications to accident rates to the ultimate fate of many of the individual planes.

When it comes to creating the definitive treatise on the Stratojet, Lloyd had many advantages. As an engineer, he could communicate with the principals who created the B-47, the pilots who flew them and the men who serviced them on a one-on-one basis. He also had the advantage of a vast network of sources, cultivated over the years in his other work, many of them eager to help him in what they knew would become the consummate book on this plane.

Lloyd used those advantages and more to turn out a superb work, exhaustively researched, enhanced by his own knowledge of aviation and studded with magnificent pictures. The design, the paper and the reproduction qualities are all first-rate.

Best of all, there is the comprehensive content. Lloyd covers everything from the progenitors of the aircraft through its long and arduous development and testing, as well as its introduction into operations. He goes on to explore each aspect of its use in the Strategic Air Command (as a bomber and a reconnaissance stalwart) through all the many variants, including some of the wild experimental types, and points out the tremendous impact the airplane had on future designs. The B-47 is in his estimation (and in mine) the most important multi-jet aircraft in history, considering the influence it exerted on both military and civilian jet design.

Lloyd caps a masterful narrative, filled with individual personal accounts of triumph and tragedy in the B-47, with six indispensable appendices that cover everything from colors through unit use. Appendix E is pretty sobering to an old B-47 pilot, because it reveals the accident rate.

Lloyd’s Boeing B-47 Stratojet is a tribute to Boeing, the Strategic Air Command and the thousands of men and women who labored so long and hard in making it the most important weapon system of its time. No aviation library is complete without a copy, and every fan of the B-47 might even want to keep another copy by the bedside.


Originally published in the November 2006 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.