Arctic Dinosaur

August 5, 2010 0 Comments

During World War II, the U.S. Coast Guard defended the coast of Greenland and in the process engaged in many rescue operations during snowstorms and in frozen areas. In 1943, the Coast Guard formed an Air Sea Rescue Squadron in San Diego, California, and within two years, the agency had 165 aircraft and operated out of nine air stations. The extreme weather conditions of the Arctic required the development of the Northrop YC-125 Raider that could land on short, uneven runways. The first of the Raiders were delivered to the Air Force in 1949, but within a few years the planes were declared surplus.




Northrop's first post-war civil design was a three-engined STOL passenger and cargo transport named the Northrop N-23 Pioneer. The Pioneer could carry 36 passengers or five tons of cargo and first flew on 21 December 1946. The aircraft had a good performance, but there was little interest due to the availability of cheap war surplus aircraft. The Pioneer was lost in a fatal crash in 1947. In 1948 the United States Air Force expressed interest in an aircraft of the same configuration and placed an order with Northrop for 23 aircraft, 13 troop transports designated the C-125A Raider and 10 for Arctic rescue work designated the C-125B. With the company designation N-32 Raider the first aircraft flew on 1 August 1949. The YC-125 was designed to operate from rough, short airfields and to be easily maintained.


The aircraft was powered by three 1200hp (895 kW) Wright R-1820-99 Cyclone radial engines. The aircraft could also be fitted with JATO rockets that enabled the aircraft to take off in less than 500 ft (152 m). The 13 troop transporters were designated YC-125A in-service and the Arctic rescue version the YC-125B.


The Canadian company Canadair did consider building the N-23 under licence but this was not proceeded with.


Thirteen YC-125As were ordered in 1948 to test the aircraft’s ability to haul troops and cargo. Ten additional aircraft were ordered, slightly modified as YC-125Bs, to test their capabilities in the Arctic rescue role. The first flight of the YC-125A occurred on Aug. 1, 1949, and deliveries to the USAF began in 1950.


Tests found the aircraft to be significantly underpowered for the intended missions. Furthermore, helicopters were recognized as a better solution for moving troops into forward areas and for performing rescue missions. As a result, the YC-125s were sent to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, to be used as ground maintenance trainers. They were declared surplus in 1955.


The aircraft on display is painted to represent the YC-125B used for cold weather testing and based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1950. It was placed on display in 1995.




N-23 Pioneer

Prototype three-engined STOL transport, one built.

N-32 Raider

Company designation of military version of the N-23.

YC-125A Raider

N-32 with seats for thirty troops, thirteen built (serials 48-628/640).

YC-125B Raider

Arctic rescue version of the N-32 with twenty stretchers and provision for a ski undercarriage. Ten built (serials 48-618/627).



Span: 86 ft. 6 in.

Length: 67 ft. 1 in.

Height: 23 ft. 1 in.

Weight: 41,900 lbs. maximum

Armament: None

Engines: Three Wright R-1820-99s of 1,200 hp each

Crew: Four

Serial number: 48-626 (painted as 48-622)

Other registrations: N2566B, XA-LOU



Maximum speed: 207 mph

Cruising speed: 171 mph

Range: 1,856 miles

Service ceiling: 12,200 ft.





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