The Hercules in RAF service: the first 25 years

The Royal Air Force has now ended its 56-year association with the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. Mick Britton details the first quarter century of the type’s illustrious RAF career in the first of two parts

Following the election of Harold Wilson’s Labour Government in 1964, the RAF was faced with a host of problems. Its re-equipment plans had been thrown into disarray by the subsequent axing of every military aircraft development programme then in progress. These included the Armstrong Whitworth AW.681 tactical jet transport with its revolutionary vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability. It had been intended to replace both the obsolete Handley Page Hastings, a design which had been in service since the Berlin Blockade, and the ageing, lumbering Blackburn Beverley.

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