De Havilland C-7B Caribou
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7M2 reciprocating; 1,450 hp each
Wingspan: 95 ft 7 in
Length: 72 ft 7 in
Height: 31 ft 8 in
Weight: max: 28,500 lbs
Speed: max: 216 mph; cruise: 152 mph
Range: 1,175 miles
Service Ceiling: 2 4,800 ft
Developed by De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, Ltd., in cooperation with the Canadian Department of Defense, the DHC-4 Caribou prototype first flew on July 30, 1958. This twin-engined tactical transport combined a spacious box-like fuselage with a high, inverted gull wing and a large upswept tail. It was designed for performing airlift missions to forward battle zones where short, unimproved airfields required the capability to takeoff and land in very short distances. The Caribou could carry either twenty-six fully equipped paratroops, thirty-two fully equipped ground troops, twenty-two wounded on stretchers, or up to 8,740 pounds of cargo, including vehicles.
Five Caribou prototypes were delivered to the United States Army in 1959 for evaluation and eventually 159 examples of the aircraft were ordered under the designation AC-1 (renamed the CV-2A in 1962). The Army later bought copies of the improved CV-2B.
In April 1966 the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Air Force agreed to let the USAF take over all of the Army's fixed-wing tactical transports -- including all Caribou still in service -- in order to make more intratheater cargo aircraft available to the Air Force in Southeast Asia, thereby relaxing the demand for C-123 and C-130 aircraft. Redesignated as the C-7 when finally transferred to the USAF in January 1967, the primary mission of the Caribou continued to be the resupply of isolated Army outposts throughout Southeast Asia.
By the time Caribou production ended in 1973, a total of 307 examples had been built. Many are still operated around the world today. Besides its service with the United States Army and Air Force, the Caribou was also operated by the United Nations and by the air forces of Abu Dhabi, Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Muscat, Oman, Spain, Tanzania, Taiwan, and Zambia. The police forces of Thailand and Uganda also flew the Caribou, as did several airlines around the world. (The civilian version accommodated 30 passengers.) The Utah detachment of the U.S. Army Reserve also operated the C-7 for a time from their base in Salt Lake City.
This C-7B, S/N 63-9757, was originally manufactured as a CV-2B and delivered to the U.S. Army on January 29, 1965 by De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, Ltd., in Toronto, Ontario. It was transferred to the U.S. Air Force on December 31, 1966 from the Army's 17th Aviation Company at Phu Cat AFB, South Vietnam. In January 1967 it was assigned to the 483rd Troop Carrier Wing (Medium) of the Pacific Air Forces, headquartered at Cam Ranh Bay AB, South Vietnam, but it remained at Phu Cat with the 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron. One year later the 483rd TCW became the 483rd Tactical Airlift Wing.
While with the 537th TAS the aircraft was used to airdrop supplies to various ground units in forward areas. On one such air-supply mission to the besieged Special Forces camp at Dak Seang just outside Pleiku, three C-7s were shot down and all crew members aboard were lost. This aircraft returned from that mission with no damage or injuries.
The plane was sent to the Sacramento Air Materiel Area at McClellan AFB, California, in September 1971. It then traveled to the Warner-Robins AMA in Georgia three months later. In May 1972 it was assigned to the 908th Tactical Airlift Group of the USAF Reserve at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Then in September 1977 it was moved to the 357th Tactical Airlift Squadron, USAF Reserve, at Maxwell. It was dropped from the Air Force inventory in October 1983 by transfer back to the U.S. Army.
In November 1983 this aircraft was received by the Utah Army National Guard in West Jordan, Utah. It was later assigned to the Utah State Area Command. On 23 August 1991 the plane was flown to Hill AFB from the 211th Aviation Group of the U.S. Army Reserve in Salt Lake City. Six days later the aircraft was accepted by Hill Aerospace Museum for static exhibit.
In March 2005 the aircraft was repainted to match its appearance while flying with the 537th Tactical Airlift Squadron in Vietnam. This project was funded by the C-7 Caribou Association and the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah. The painting was done on base by the professionals in the C-130 Paint Shop. The museum and Foundation would like to thank everyone involved in making this project such a success, especially the C-7 Caribou Association. Museum volunteers are now restoring the interior of the aircraft.