By Jack Hartley
I have always been interested in the C199 Flying Boxcar.
When I was in the Army, we were on maneuvers at the end of the Korean War and loaded up in a C199, then flew across two countries. I attended a class and spent a lot of time figuring out where the center of gravity was on both my jeep and two-wheel trailer by weighing everything I put in them and weighing both the vehicle and trailer.
I then painted a stripe at that point. Supposedly, we had to do this so the plane’s weight would be distributed evenly. When I backed the trailer and jeep into the flying boxcar I pointed out to the crew chief where the center of gravity was. He replied, “It doesn’t matter to me. Back it up another two feet so I can tie it down.”
There were uncomfortable bucket seats down each side of the plane, obviously designed to hold a parachute. Since the clamshell cargo doors would open while in flight, it was a para-troopers favorite plane. Its top speed was under 300 mph.
At one end of the plane was a plain old gasoline type funnel. Attached to the end of the funnel was a rubber hose which went through the floor of the plane. Ironically, all thirty members of our platoon on that plane had “U.S.” in front of their serial number, meaning they were draftees.
“R.A.” in front of a serial number meant regular army. None of the members of this platoon had asked to be there. We didn’t like the Army. We didn’t like the Koreans. We didn’t like the Japanese. We particularly didn’t like being 6,000 miles from home for 19 months. We silently lined up in front of that funnel and expressed our feelings for these people and their country and hoped there was a large number of populous under the path of that flying boxcar.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or jack...@aol.com. Check out www.jackremembers.com