FAIRCHILD C123 PROVIDER
THE FAIRCHILD C-123 PROVIDER was a short-range assault transport aircraft with the ability to use short runways and
unimproved landing strips in remote regions and was used from 1962-1970 by the U.S. Air Force in Southeast Asia
to transport materials and passengers, personnel, equipment, parts and supplies including food, ammunition and
medical supplies during the war in Vietnam. When the planes could not land, their cargo was dropped.
“Most routine supply missions were short, less than an hour long, but the sixty planes were each flying about five sorties a
day. The types of cargo the planes carried mirrored the nature of the Vietnamese war and society. Besides such military items as
ammunition, loaded fuel bladders, aircraft parts, and vehicles, the aircraft moved Vietnamese war refugees, coal, live pigs, cows,
chickens, ducks and peacocks, rice, wine, mail, and whatever else was needed and could fit into the holds,” states The War in South
Vietnam, The Years of the Offensive 1965-1968, by John Schlight, quoting the Gravel Pentagon Papers, 111, pp 402, 446.
C-123 Providers were featured in the following films: Con Air, Air America, Outbreak, Operation Dumbo Drop, American Made.
Operation Dumbo Drop American Made Air America
A number of C-123s were configured as VIP transports, including that of the senior military commander of U.S. forces in
Vietnam 1964-1972 — Gen. William C. Westmoreland’s “The White Whale,” also known as Westmoreland’s Jungle Taxi.
The C-123 Provider was used by the U.S. Coast Guard for search-and-rescue missions.
President John F. Kennedy’s Ford Lincoln limousine for his November 1963, Texas tour was transported to San Antonio by a
C-123 piloted by the 76th Air Transport Squadron.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force also used C-123 aircraft in “Operation Ranch Hand” to spray herbicidal Agent
Orange to clear jungles that provided enemy cover.
WBM september 2019