Review: American Secret Projects 3: U.S. Airlifters Since 1962 by George Cox and Craig Kaston

Hardcover, 360 pages

WOW! This was the first impression of this second volume on US Transport projects -this one starting in 1962 and running to the present day, covering a HUGE number of unbuilt designs.This volume was delayed, but the wait was well worth it, and this is one of the best works in this genre that I’ve read. The authors have done an astounding job of tracking down hundreds of rare model photos, diagrams, and artist’s depictions hidden away in archives and collections- the vast majority of which I had never seen before, or in such quality.

Some highlights – there are many more:

Chapter 2 A Quest for Size
The Advanced C-135, with an enlarged fuselage and rear ramp, and the similar Douglas 2243C based on the DC-8.
Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed large airlifter design evolution
Boeing 741-6 laminar flow testbed based on the KC-135A.

An artist’s depiction of a USMC KC-14 refueling a pair of F-14s.
DC-15 depiction with underwing drones
3-views of the commercial C-15 STOLmaster and the stretched Boeing 953-373 and McDonnell Douglas C-15B
Diagrams and depictions of the proposed EC-17 airborne command post
Covers the ATCA competition that resulted in the KC-10 – including a 3-view of a proposed KC-135 modification powered by two TF39s, and details of Boeing’s 747 tanker-transport entry.

Carrier On-Board Delivery
Bell D-305 tilt-rotor
Boeing 727 & 737 COD proposals – including an artist’s depiction of a 727 launching from Enterprise
Grumman Model 614 C-2 outgrowth with four ATF3 turbofans
S-3 COD concepts, including a stretched 3-engine variant
Carrier-capable C-9
Type A V/STOL designs
Fokker F-28 COD, including color art of an example with refueling pods being launched from a carrier.
Greyhound 21 with TF34 engines.

Chapter 7 Extending the Design Boundaries
Boeing 738 C-135 outgrowth with Skybolt ALBMs
Boeing 877 transport/Skybolt launcher derived from the B-52G
DC-10, 747, C-5 and C-17 missile launchers
Nuclear powered aircraft based on the XC-99, XC-132, 747 and all-new designs.
C-XX-747 high-winged airlifter outgrowth of the 747
Lockheed LGA-144 – essentially an enlarged, refined C-5
Boeing 1044 heavy airlifter with a variety of alternative roles

Chapter 8 Extreme Outsized Airlifter Conversions
C-133 Saturn carriers
Large 3-view of the Conroy Princess Guppy
Fairchild M-534 Guppy conversion of a B-36
Side view diagrams of a Lockheed L-1649 Starliner and Douglas DC-7 Guppy conversions
Twin-fuselage 747 and C-5 Shuttle carriers

Chapter 9 The Once and Future Hercules
The C-130J Advanced Assault/STOL Hercules – a 1960s design long predating today’s C-130J.
Hercules amphibian
ECX-130 turbofan-powered TACAMO
XFC-130H Credible Sport
L-400 Twin Hercules
De Havilland Canada Powered Lift Demonstrators using the C-130 airframe

The final chapter provides a tantalizing glimpse at airlifters to come – and while some bear a resemblance to transports that came before, many appear to have more in common with the B-2 or X-47. And more than one looks like it came off a movie scene or video game.

A really great value for fans of the “What if” genre – there is reading here for days, and plenty of modeling ideas for far longer than that!

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