The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules The Complete Story

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Peter C. Smith
Other Publication Information
Hardback, 416-pp, 9.87 x 7.75 inches
Product / Stock #
Provided by: Specialty Press
Book cover

I would like to thank Specialty Press for submitting this book for review and thank IPMS/USA for allowing me to do the review.

In the 1950s and 1960s I grew up less than a mile from the end of Dobbin Air Reserve Base runway 11. Dobbins has always shared its runway, control tower, weather and rescue services with Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company. My younger days were filled with watching planes come and go. I was there in a manner of speaking when the C-130 first came to life. Years later I was employed by Lockheed and worked in the engineering department of several aircraft including the C-130. I was very pleased to receive this book for review.

The first C-130A entered service in December 1957. It is still in use and still in production as the C-130J. Approximately 72 countries and numerous civilian organizations use or have used the C-130. During the past 53+ years 27 significant variants have been built. There has probably not been a more versatile airframe designed and built than this one. It has the distinction of being the largest and heaviest aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier. During this test program it made 21 unarrested full-stop landings and 21 unassisted take-offs on the USS Forrestal.

Peter Smith presents us with a book he refers to as "a warm tribute to the C-130 in all its many facets." It is, indeed, a comprehensive story of the C-130 Hercules. Smith provides a record of the aircraft's varied uses from gunship to hospital ship, from airborne assault to search and rescue, from fuel tanker to firefighter. He provides details on the scores of variants developed between the C-130A to the C-130J Super Hercules. Smith shows us that the C-130 has been successfully deployed from the desert landing strips and jungle terrain to the frozen ice pack in Antarctica. Not to be overlooked, the civilian versions and their markets are covered as well. To go along with the text covering particular aircraft there are tables listing thorough and detailed specifications.

Unlike most other books on the C-130, this one is not divided into chapters by model or variant. Smith has taken a different approach. He does this using five chapters identified as:

  1. The family of Hercules
  2. The versatile Hercules
  3. The multiple roles of the American Hercules variants
  4. The worldwide operators of the Hercules: military
  5. The worldwide operators of the Hercules: civilian

Leading up to the chapters is a Preface and an Acknowledgement sections. Following the chapters is an Appendix that lists:

  1. Model summary
  2. Model list
  3. C-130: major sub-contractors
  4. Verifiable losses of C-130s
  5. Museum Hercules
  6. Chase the Herk: strange happenings
  7. Latest USAF C-130 Serial Numbers

To conclude the book, Smith has provided a select bibliography and an index.

There is more in this book than facts and figures. There are over 450 black and white photographs with information provided such as aircraft serial number, location and a brief description of the activity depicted. A bonus of sorts is the eight pages of color prints showing 16 C-130s in profile from various countries and in various color schemes. A block of text accompanies each plane. They are all done in 1/144 scale.

The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules certainly provides comprehensive coverage of one of the greatest planes ever built. It is a great book for the modeler and aviation historian alike. The photographs and drawings are an excellent resource for the modeler. It would be a valuable addition to any aviation book collection. The thorough details the author has provided as well as the photographs and artwork make this book one I highly recommend.


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