In May 1960, the U.S. Air Force asked aircraft manufacturers to submit designs for a jet transport to replace the aging and outdated fleet of propeller driven transports then in use. Boeing, Convair, Douglas, and Lockheed submitted proposals with the Lockheed design being selected in May 1961 as the winner. The first C-141 made its maiden flight on December 17, 1963, the 60th Anniversary of the Wright Brother’s first flight. Starlifters saw extensive service in Vietnam first flying there in 1965 only a few months after entering full service. A few C-141s were built with stronger airframes to allow them to carry the Minuteman missile. After a short time in service it was found that the C-141 ran out of room in the cargo bay before it reached its maximum carrying weight and it was decided to lengthen the aircraft by 23 feet and add aerial refueling capability. One by one the Starlifters returned to Lockheed to be cut open and have two extra fuselage sections inserted, one in front of the wing and one behind it. The newly lengthened aircraft were called C-141B. The last Starlifter was retired from the U. S. Air Force in 2006.
305th and 415th Air Wings, McGuire AFB, New Jersey, 2000
Pima Air & Space Museum