Known as “The Flying Boxcar” the C-119 was used as a cargo plane was built between 1947 and 1955, originally replacing the C-82 “Packet”. Deployed during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the C-119 began as a troop and cargo hauler, it was later fitted with weapons of war. The AC-119G “Shadow” sported infra- red instrumentation, armor plating, fire launchers and mini-guns. The Shadow was later upgraded to the AC-119K “Stinger” and was outfitted with turbo-jet engines.
Additionally, the C-119 was deployed for aerial recoveries. Deftly recovering balloon-borne instrument packages and film from the Corona spy satellite program, the C-119 holds the world record for the first successful recovery of film from an orbiting satellite. It also was the first aircraft to perform an airborne film recovery from an object returning from Earth’s orbit.
After the Vietnam War, the C-119’s were used by the U.S. Forest Service to battle wildfires. In 1987, after a series of crashes, the C-119 was deemed too dangerous to fly and all planes were taken out of service.