There is very little literature on the Fairchild C-119s and no reference books on the individual C-119 histories. Many histories of C-119s, which did service with the USAF in S.E.Asia and/or Air Forces in that region, are shrouded in mysteries of murky operations, incomplete documents or "fates unknown".|
Here is one.
In July 2004 I received an email from Dave Morley, he wrote:
The Census Dave refers to is at 'www.oldprops.ukhome.net/C119 Census' of Paul Middleton.
But is it correct to assume RoCAF 3173 is the same airframe as USAF 53-3173 ?
More reactions followed:
This is the particular aircraft concerned:
Herewith the picture of the C-119, Number 3173, which I parachuted from in 1987 at Ping Tung, ROC.
I am the bloke in front of the doorway (rear rank, 3rd in from left).
Photo: Douglas Chien.
Chuck Lunsford (RIP), a dedicated enthusiast on the subject of C-119 Boxcars, wrote:|
"All I have to go by is Joe Baugher's info. His listing says 53-3173 went to S. Vietnam. As you know, a large number of USAF aircraft were transferred or given to VNAF in March of 1973, along with the Stinger and Shadow gunships. What happened to them after the fall of S. Vietnam in 1975 is unknown.
As regards to the Taiwanese C-119s, it was their policy to retain the original tail number, so if there ever was a Taiwanese 3173, it was the same airframe.
One other possibility exists -- the 1000 hour inspections on the C-119s serving in Vietnam was all done in Taiwan's large C-119 maintenance facility. Possibly 3173 was sent there for that, and was never returned to VNAF. As you know, it is nearly impossible to learn anything about these aircraft from Taiwanese authorities. I tried to trace 53-3218, which was the only 12th Troop Carrier Sq. aircraft from that contract group. Joe Baugher also lists it as having gone to S. Vietnam, but that is all I know about it."
C-119 3120 of the Republic of China Air Force; photo courtesy Benjamin Yu
Phil Hawks contributed the following on the Taiwanese serial system:
"Just been taking a look at your page on the RoCAF C-119s. Unfortunately I can't help out with the actual identity of 3173 (wish I could ....),
but, for what it's worth, here's some more general info on these aircraft. I have a great interest in Taiwanese aviation (both civil and
military), having lived there on and off for 8 years or so since 1990. Some general observations on the ROCAF serial system might be
RoCAF C-119 3160, photo courtesy B.Yu
In terms of the C-119s, I would imagine that they were probably allocated Taiwanese serials in the order in which they were received
from the US, which would obviously have borne no relationship to their original serials by this time. Having said that, however, it's
interesting to note that many (although not all) of the C-119s with original serials in the 53-3xxx range *did* use their individual serials
(beginning with 3xxx) as their Taiwanese serials, according to known tie-ups. Perhaps someone in Taiwan noticed this useful correlation at
the time, and any that were delivered from this serial batch were allocated corresponding Taiwanese serials (and thus presumably becoming
'out-of-sequence' serials until later deliveries 'caught up'). This would mean that if 53-3173 was in fact delivered to Taiwan, there's a
good chance that it did become 3173 in Taiwanese service. The question remains, however, as to whether it actually saw service in Taiwan.
"I am an aviation enthusiast in Taiwan. Too bad that I do not have the s/n of C-119 3173, but I believe it is
not 53-3173. Following is my reason. When the first batch of 16 C-119s came to Taiwan, the last three
digits of their USAF s/n in large font were kept in the nose, like 153 in the nose and 33153 in the fin. |
Then around early 1960s or late 1950s, all RoCAF s/n became 4 digits, so instead of allocating a new series of numbers for the C-119, the RoCAF just used the last 4 digits of the US s/n for C-119's new RoCAF s/n.
All 53-31XX in the first batch applied this rule, but 53-3173 was simply not in the first batch. After more C-119s came to Taiwan, they were assigned to other un-allocated 31XX numbers, then 32XX ones.
Hope this help. Still, who can tell us the s/n of 3173?
Many thanks Clarence !
RoCAF C-119 3204, photo courtesy B.Yu
My links on the C-119: |
Gateway to my C-119 pages
My C-119 photos at Greybull in 1994
Ralph Pettersen at Greybull in 2003
A C-119 mystery at Battle Mountain,NV
C-119s at Ft.Campbell,KY
Chuck Lunsford wrote a book about his days as a radio operator onboard the C-119:|
Both books can be bought through Amazon.com
|Another writer, Larry E. Fletcher (ex USAF Captain), used his personal experience to write a novel about the C-119 Gunship in Vietnam: "Shadows of Saigon, Air Commandos in SE Asia".|