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Northrop YC-125 Raider walkaround

5 September 2012

Northrop YC-125 Raider walkaround

39º 47′ 03″ N /  84º 06′ 29″ W

I recall being amazed when I saw the Raider. I was unaware of its existence and was happy to see another older design from the 1930s — it was a taildragging trimotor but has a modern look, so I guessed a 1930s vintage.

And I was wrong!

The design is from the 1950s — decades after the designs of Fokker, Stinson and Ford. Paradoxically, the Raider is a product of Northrop — designer of the sleek and modern like the Gamma, Black Widow and Flying Wing. So, after the pleasant surprise came the question of why.

Why the Northrop YC-125 Raider?

As it turns out, Northrop simply thought there was a market for a rough field cargo transport aircraft. But the economics of the time were not supportive with so many surplus C-47 and C-46 aircraft to be had at bargain prices so shortly after the end of WW II. The military gave it a try but helicopter transport potential soon overshadowed what the Raider could do — so the small number of airframes built either finished their careers in South American airlines or at maintenance training facilities.

Not that the Raider didn’t have its positive aspects. Three engines and conventional gear make for a rugged cargo aircraft working from unimproved airstrips with reserve power if the load is not great. Indeed, there is an image of a Raider on a JATO-assisted takeoff.

Also of note are design details like:

  • Steps built into the left side for access to the left side cockpit door
  • Ramp in the back though conventionally geared — not unique but highly unusual
  • A cockpit access door on both sides — again, not unique but highly unusual

Here is the YC-125B Raider fact sheet from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, and images of their YC-125B Raider are shown below — along with an exciting USAF photo.

Northrop YC-125B Raider at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — photo by Joseph May

A closer view showing the strut reinforced fixed main gear — photo by Joseph May

Detail showing the ladder access to the pilot side door — photo by Joseph May

The copilot station also had door access — photo by Joseph May

Raider on RATO, a YC-125 on a  RATO/JATO assisted take off — San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive photo

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 September 2012 08:24

    That is really cool. I learn something often when reading your blog. No matter how much one thinks he knows, one can always learn more by visiting your blog. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… This is one of the best blogs on the Internet! 🙂

    I encourage all readers to leave comments, suggestions and replies here and let Mr. May know how much you enjoy this blog. You don’t know how much work goes into this blog. Leaving some comment lets him know you are out there and appreciate what he is doing!
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    JR Hafer

  2. Bill permalink
    5 September 2012 09:14

    I attended A and E school at Sheppard AFB in the mid 50’s and several were stored on the civilian side of the base. After graduating and assigned to Schilling AFB I later returned to Sheppard for 7 level training and helped a friend make a couple of these aircraft ready for sale to someone in South America. They were built like a tank.

    • Bill Williamsl permalink
      31 January 2015 21:12

      Was crew chief on one of these in 1954. It never flew while I was there. Was discharged latter part of 1954. Was an instructor in the A&E school for about 24 months. 3750 th Tech Training Sqd.

      • travelforaircraft permalink
        1 February 2015 08:27

        You had a rare and interesting aircraft 🙂

      • Bill Beames permalink
        1 February 2015 11:17

        I found out later that the two we worked on went to Mexico.

  3. 5 September 2012 10:55

    I would absolutely love to fly one just once to experience the handling charastics of these “Tanks”… I’ll bet they drive like trucks too. Gotta have real MUSCULES to drive one of these babies, no electric / hydrolics I’ll bet.

  4. Mel Le Claire permalink
    21 December 2013 23:03

    I attended A&E school at Sheppard AF base inthe early 50ths. Part of our training was to start the engines and preform some basic engine problems. I do believe the engines were manufactured by Studubaker. Very sooth running.


  5. Michael Ely permalink
    9 February 2015 21:21


    The YC-125 at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton caught my eye and my interest. We didn’t have time to get a close look at it so that’s why I’m here…trying to learn about it. Thanks for the info.


    • travelforaircraft permalink
      10 February 2015 07:19

      Glad to help 🙂

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