The T-29/C-131 series of aircraft was one of the military's many cost saving examples for its utility and transport needs. The Convair CV-240/340/440 series was used by the United States Air Force for medical evacuation and VIP under the C-131 Samaritan designation. The Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan was a turboprop version of the Convair CV-440 Metropolitan, with Napier Eland turboprops in place of the piston engines. The conversions were performed in Canada by Canadair. In Royal Canadian Air Force and later in Canadian Armed Forces service they were known as the CC-109 Cosmopolitan. All were re-engined in 1966 with Allison 501-D13 engines.
The production of the Convair 440 aircraft was completed in 1958, and by that time about 1000 CV-240/340/440 transport aircraft were built, almost half of which were delivered to the US military. Convair turned its attention to the development of the CV-880/990 series, but Pacific Airmotive began to re-equip several CV-340/440 turboprops for the Allison 501 turboprop engines for several airlines, and the resulting airplane was designated CV-580.
The C-131, which served as flying ambulances, could accommodate four crew members and up to 48 passengers. At the start of the Korean War, the Army and Air Force still had not reached agreement on a division of aeromedical responsibilities. By December 1951, however, the Army and the Marines, with approval of Air Force Headquarters, assumed primary responsibility for forward medical evacuation. The Army and Marines soon acquired their own helicopters for that purpose. In December 1953, however, the Air Force was given responsibility for organizing and staffing aeromedical staging facilities, even in forward areas. The medically designed C-131 Samaritan joined the Air Force's aeromedical fleet in 1954.
The C-131 Samaritan entered the Coast Guard during the 1970's, and Air Station Corpus Christi Retired the last Coast Guard C-131 in early 1983. Nearly all of the USAF's C-131s left the active inventory in the late 1970s, but a few were still serving in Air National Guard units in the mid-1980s. Aircraft that have been assigned to the Peoria Air Guard include the C-131E Samaritan, from June 1975 to May 1989.
Many C-131s were put into service as VC-131 staff transports. The 99th Military Airlift Squadron was officially organized at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on 08 January 1966. The mission was to "provide safe, reliable, and efficient transportation for the President and Vice President of the United States, Members of the Cabinet, Members of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other high ranking domestic and foreign dignitaries." The squadron was assigned six VC-140, five C-140, four VC-131 (Convair 580), four U-4, and one VC-6 aircraft. By October of 1969, all U-4 aircraft had been assigned to other units. The first three VC-131 aircraft were later transferred to another unit by 1977.
The NC-131H Total In-Flight Simulator (TIFS) is a modified C-131 transport (Convair 580 turboprop airliner). Operated by the Air Vehicles Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, it was modified into an in-flight simulator in the late 1960s. TIFS uses a model-following flight control system that controls all aerodynamics control surfaces plus the throttles to achieve independent control of aircraft motions in all six degrees of freedom. Modifications included the addition of a separate evaluation cockpit, side-force surfaces, direct-lift flaps, computer-controlled hydraulic actuators on all control surfaces, and turboprop engines. The aerodynamics and control systems of any aircraft can be programmed on the TIFS' digital computers to produce the proper model responses at the evaluation cockpit.
The TIFS has simulated a wide variety of aircraft, including the B-1, B-2, Space Shuttle, X-29, YF-23, C-130, C-141, and airliners such as the Boeing 7J7, Douglas MD-12X, and Nusantara N250. TIFS also performs generic research and development in the areas of flying/handling qualities, flight control development, and display/human factors. Another TIFS capability allows student test pilots to be instructed in avionics systems test techniques. To perform this mission, the evaluation cockpit is removed and replaced with an interchangeable avionics nose and a modular crew station in the main cabin with seating for two students and an instructor. The avionics suite includes air-to-air/air-to-ground radar, infrared seeker, electro/optical seeker, inertial, low-frequency radio, and global positioning navigation systems. TIFS also can be used in this configuration for avionics system testing.
TIFS was involved in NASA research to develop a cost-effective next-generation supersonic transport. The simulation nose was rebuilt to make room for radar and a large video display. In this configuration, TIFS will allow pilots to evaluate landing a supersonic transport without any forward visibility. The Convair was extensively modified to accommodate the test flights, receiving a new cockpit canopy and nose cap; instrument panel; side and center consoles; rudder pedal and throttle feel systems; and various sensors, displays and instrumentation, including a Silicon Graphics computer and high-definition TV camera and displays.
CV-440 / CV-540 / CL-66 / CC-109 Cosmopolitan
In 1958, the RCAF wanted to replace their aging C-47 Dakotas with a turbo powered aircraft. Their choice was the Vickers Viscount, but the Canadian government decided against this aircraft. Instead, Canadair offered a series of CV-540 variants powered by Napier Eland turboprops.
When General Dynamics, then the parent company of Canadair, phased out the Convair CV-440 twin-piston-engined civil transport to make room at San Diego for Convair CV-880 production lines, Canadair acquired the remaining unsold CV-440s and the production jigs and tools. At that time, Napier, the British aero-engine manufacturer, was offering conversion programs to re-engine Convair 340s and 440s with the small-diameter, single-shaft 3,500 shp Eland propeller-turbine.
Canadair planned to re-engine and sell the three CV-440s which had been inherited; to build Eland-engined CV-440s on the Convair jigs; and to design and build a modified all-cargo version with these engines. At the time, in the late 1950s, following the success of the propeller-turbine Vickers Viscount civil transport, the program seemed to be sound enough, with a guaranteed future production.
The re-engined CV-440s were designated Convair CV-540s and the new aircraft were given the Canadair designation CL-66. The three variants were the CV-540A (CL-66A), which was to be a 48 to 64-passenger version; the CV-540B (CL-66B), a cargo and passenger version with a reinforced floor, a wide loading door aft and a payload of 14,300 lb (6,486 kg); and the CV-540C (CL-66C), which was the provisional designation for the inherited CV-440s when re-engined as pre-production aircraft.
Canadair was not able to get contracts from any major airline for the CL-66. It was too expensive and other similar types had better performance. The two aircraft, both of them CL-66Cs, that had been used for extensive sales demonstrations, were sold to the local carrier Quebecair. The RCAF took ten aircraft, mainly Bs.
The first and only contract for a production version came from the Canadian Government, with an order for ten CL-66B for RCAF Air Transport Command. These were powered by 3,500 eshp Eland NE1.6 Mk 504s. The first was test-flown by G.T. McLean on January 7, 1960, and delivered to the RCAF on 19 April 1960. Of the ten RCAF CL-66Bs, eight were also re-engined with Allisons in 1966. Two others were used for spares and another was destroyed in an oxygen fire during maintenance. The remainder were in service with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1973, subsequently they were replaced by the CC-142 Dash 8 and CC-144 Challenger.
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