Three flying boxcars at Hemet-Ryan tanker base

Looking back at 1981

Three C-119s Ryan 1981
Three C-119s at Hemet-Ryan Air Tanker Base in 1981. Front to back, Tanker 81 (N13743), T-87 (N13746), and T-82 (N13745). Photo by Steve Whitby.

Steve Whitby took this photo in 1981 at Hemet-Ryan Air Tanker Base in southern California. Three of Hemet Valley Flying Service’s Fairchild C-119s are lined up in the pits where they are loaded with fire retardant for assisting firefighters on wildfires.

Steve said he’s been scanning negatives he took 39 years ago. Keep up the good work, Steve!

The last C-119 in line is T-82 (N13745) which was advertised by GSA as scrap for sale. It apparently sold for $10,400 February 1, 2016.

Tanker 82 C-119
C-119. Tanker 82 (N13745). GSA photo, possibly in 2016.

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5 thoughts on “Three flying boxcars at Hemet-Ryan tanker base”

  1. Interesting . . . ! Cuz Cpt Buddy Theisen USAF 319th ACS 50’s-60’s (Lt Col Robert F. Theisen RIP Arlington), if memory serves, said “Tough flying ‘Boxcars’ over the Sierras.”

    1. Bill’s article following this one shows 2000 gallons.

      MTOW with the dorsal jet pod was 77,000 lbs. Stock C-119 specs quote 10,000 max cargo weight. Your mileage may vary.

  2. By-gone era. The three C 119s were previously owned by Aero Union in Chico, Ca. Tanker 12, 13 and 14. The internal tank had a capacity of 2650 U,S. gallons with six drop doors. Later sold to Hemet Flying Service as shown in picture. Typical contract load was 2000 to 2400 gallons depending on the contractor (F.S. or BLM) and base. The C 119 had it all, good pitch, roll and rudder responses. Aero Union C 119s American build, had P&W 4360s, Hawkins and Powers C119s Canadian built had Wright 3350. It was H&P that obtained the supplemental type certificate (STC) to mount the jet powerplant over the wing. This modification allowed the C 119s to have excellent performance carrying 2400 gallons of retardant. Maximum military useful cargo load 10,000 pounds. The reason for this limit was as the military guys use to say “if one engine failed the other engine would get you to the scene of the accident. One of the interesting side notes is that inside the tank, the doors on a BLM contract had re-stricter plates installed to restrict the retardant flow for long light fuel drops (desert) of about a half mile. This would be a single door at a time trail drop sequenced for as many doors as needed, usually all them.

  3. Thanks for the replies on capacities. My uncle Mac McCurley, an early fire bomber owner/operator, would have sure enjoyed these pictures. I do remember seeing these planes on the ramp at Aero Union here in Chico
    Gary McNair

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