Victoria picks up Tanker 132 on contract

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.

Tanker 131 fire crew
Tanker 131 and her crew on contract in Victoria. Coulson photo.
Tanker 132 fire crew
Tanker 132 and her crew on contract in Victoria. Coulson photo.

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.

Large air tankers assisting with bushfires in Tasmania

DC-10 Tasmania fire
A DC-10 air tanker working a fire in Tasmania February 12, 2016. Tasmania Fire Service photo.

Bushfires that have been raging across northwest Tasmania for several weeks are still causing great concern in the island state south of Australia.

Three air tankers from North America that have been working in Australia during their summer bushfire season have been recently deployed to Tasmania, including a DC-10, Avro RJ85, and a C-130. This may be the first time large aerial firefighting assets have been used in the state. The Fire Service felt it was necessary to warn the residents to “not be alarmed” when they saw the air tankers “flying a bit low over the coast”.

In recent days some of the air tankers have departed from Avalon, near Melborne, and returned there after dropping retardant. Last month a portable retardant base was set up in northeast Tasmania at Launceston.

The video below shows the DC-10 dropping retardant out ahead of a fire in Tasmania. It is courtesy of Wayne Rigg of the Country Fire Authority.

c-130 air tanker Tasmania
A C-130 air tanker working a fire in Tasmania February 12, 2016. Tasmania Fire Service photo.
air tanker Tasmania
An air tanker working a fire in Tasmania February 12, 2016. Tasmania Fire Service photo.
large air tankers in Australia
The National Aerial Firefighting Centre created this poster illustrating the North American Air Tankers that are working in Australia during their 2015/2016 bushfire season.

Coulson’s Air Tanker 132, an L-382G, first began helping the Tasmanians January 26 and was reloading at the temporary fire retardant base installed in Launceston.

T-132 in Tasmania

More information about the bushfires in Tasmania is at Wildfire Today.

Tanker 132 deployed to Tasmania

tanker 132
Tanker 132, an L-382, prepares to deploy to Tasmania. NWS RFS photo.

Coulson’s Air Tanker 132, an L-382G, was deployed from the Australian mainland to Tasmania to help deal with the numerous bushfires across the state. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported that the aircraft is likely to remain there for a number of days.

T-132 in Tasmania

Photos of aircraft fighting bushfires in Victoria, Australia

Air tanker Victoria
Tanker 132

The Country Fire Authority recently released some excellent photos of aircraft that are fighting bushfires in Victoria, Australia.

Air tanker Victoria
Tanker 162

helicopter Victoria

Air tanker Victoria
Tanker 160

Air tanker Victoria

Continue reading “Photos of aircraft fighting bushfires in Victoria, Australia”

“Thor” builds retardant line in Australia

Known in the United States as Air Tanker 132 and down under as “Thor”, it is seen in this video posted by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service building retardant line out ahead of the Terraborra North Fire in the Hawkesbury local government area.

The video was published December 13, 2015.

Tanker 132 arrives in Indonesia

T-132 on Indonesia runway

Coulson’s Tanker 132, known in Australia as “Thor”, has arrived in Palembang, Indonesia with a lead plane (in smoky conditions) to assist with the numerous large fires in the area. Local crews are preparing it for water dropping missions northeast of Palembang.

The photos were supplied by Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, which has the air tanker under contract during the Australian summer but has loaned it to Indonesia for a week or so.

T-132 on Indonesia ramp

T-132 and lead plane in Indonesia

Tanker 132 to be deployed from Australia to Indonesia

Tanker 132 performing a demonstration water drop
Tanker 132 performing a demonstration water drop in New South Wales. Photo by NSW Rural Fire Service.

On September 1 Coulson’s Tanker 132 (an L-382G civilian version of Lockheed’s C-130) began an aerial firefighting contract in New South Wales, Australia. Next week NSW will loan it to the government of Indonesia to help fight some of the massive wildfires that have been smoking up the skies, creating health concerns downwind.

Below is information about the deployment provided by Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of the NSW Rural fire Service:

Following a request from Indonesia, the NSW RFS will be deploying Thor, our C130 Hercules Large Air Tanker (LAT), to assist with forest fire fighting in the regions of Borneo and Sumatra this coming week. Following the approval of our Minister David Elliott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, tomorrow morning, a number of senior NSW RFS personnel will join officers from EMA and DFAT and depart for the region to prepare for the deployment. A number of aviation specialists from NSW and other States will also be deployed to support the LAT. The five day deployment is scheduled for departure early in the week, probably Tuesday pending final clearances.

Our VLAT, Southern Belle the DC10, will remain in NSW along with more than 100 other aircraft on call if needed. Should there be an unexpected change in current weather forecast, Thor can be recalled in 24-48 hours. I thank the NSW and Federal Governments and departments for their outstanding efforts in assisting with coordinating and managing this urgent request. Thanks to all involved and best wishes to all those deployed over coming days – stay safe.