Above: Air tankers 131 and 132, both on contract in Victoria. Coulson photo.
Both of Coulson’s C-130 air tankers have been working in Australia during the 2015/2016 bushfire season; 131 has been with the state of New South Wales while 132 was in Victoria. When the NWS contract with 132 ended recently, Victoria hired it, affording a rare opportunity to photograph both of them together.
Both of the air tankers are variants of the C-130 platform. T-131 is a C-130Q which served as a strategic communications link for the U.S. Navy’s Ballistic Missile submarine force and as a backup communications link for the U. S. Air Force manned strategic bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile forces. It had the capability to deploy two trailing wire antennas with the longest being 17,000 to 20,000 feet depending on the VLF frequency being used. The aircraft still has remnants of the system — a vent in front of the landing gear that brought in air to cool the wire spooling mechanism. (More information, a Word document, about the “TACAMO” communications system.)
T-132 is an L-382G, also known as an L-100-30, a civilian version of the C-130 that has been stretched about 15 feet compared to the L-100.
We like posting photos of firefighting aircraft with their crews. Too often we see dramatic photos of aircraft fighting fires, but the crews don’t always get the recognition they deserve. If you have any recent or classic photos along these lines, let us know. A description with names, places, and dates would be helpful.