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Walking around the Caribou — a de Havilland C-7

11 July 2012

Walking around the Caribou — a de Havilland C-7

35º 07′ 49″ N / 79º 01′ 19″ W

De Havilland Canada had two successes with STOL aircraft so the firm evolved a more capable aircraft, in 1958, known as the Caribou or formerly as the DHC-4. The U.S. Army foresaw conflicts in ‘limited wars” on the horizon with the eventual need for STOL cargo aircraft. The Army soon tested the Caribou, accepted over 150 as the C-7 and the spat with the U.S. Air Force was on. The USAF saw no need to supply firebases, remotely located by virtue of their missions and easily isolated. The U.S. Army did however as aircraft can deliver bigger loads than helicopters are able. Eventually, in 1967, the Army relinquished the C-7s and the USAF agreed to no longer interfere with Army helicopter concerns below a certain weight.

The Caribou’s capability is impressive. It could transport 32 troops, 24 paratroopers or 14 litter cases — or 8000 pounds of cargo (~3640kg) — yet land in less than the length of three football fields (pitches) while having a combat radius of over 500 miles (800km). More information on the C-7 can be found at this web site, The C-7A Caribou Association.

The de Havilland C-7 Caribou at the 82nd Airborne Division and War Memorial Museum — photo by Joseph May

A long wing span a large powerful engines, marks of an STOL aircraft — photo by Joseph May

Left side view of the Caribou — photo by Joseph May

The C-7 has a conventional split rear cargo ramp — photo by Joseph May

Cockpit closeup shows the cargo deck is below the cockpit deck, making both more efficient — photo by Joseph May

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 July 2012 01:20

    The RAAF operated these for 40 years! They were only recently retired as no viable replacement with the same STOL capability was available. Interim they are using King Airs but have now orded the C-27 Spartan which is an amazing transport aircraft in itself (I have seen them be barrel rolled like a fighter)!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 July 2012 09:12

      Cool … I will have to get familiar with the Spartan! Thanks very much for this information 🙂

      • 12 July 2012 18:38

        Its the Alenia C-27J Spartan specifically (the latest variant). Handy transport, like a mini C-130

      • travelforaircraft permalink*
        13 July 2012 14:20

        Now … I must go find one and see it for myself … thanks very much 🙂 — Joe

  2. Frederick A. Olds permalink
    11 July 2012 10:39

    As the Senior Intelligence Officer for both the US and VN 1966-1967 in Can Tho, located in the center of the Mekong Delta, the C-7 was a prime means of transport and supply throughout Vietnam. The Army did a great job operating them and we could board with our weapons and we always flew with the upper half of the rear door open for fast egress in an emergency ready to fight. One flight from a rather rough field the right prop picked up a rock and threw it thru the skin of the aircraft next to my right ear and out the overhead. Flew to Vung Tau where they called in a prop specialist who filed down the nick in the prop and we continued on our way to Can Tho. When the Air Force took them over the rules all changed. Did not want us to fly with weapons and closed that upper half door. Felt entombed. Doubt we would have left the original airfield enroute to Vung Tau if the USAF had been in charge. Great airplane that served us well.
    Fred Olds, CAPT/USN/Ret

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 July 2012 12:35

      Capt. Olds,

      You’ve added a substantial amount of visceral history to the post and you have my thanks.

      Joe

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