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C-123 Provider

History and Development of the C-123 Provider

The C-123 Provider was a short-range assault transport used for airlifting troops and cargo to and from small, unprepared airstrips.

The rugged C-123 became an essential part of U.S. Air Force airlift during the Southeast Asia War, where it flew primarily as an in-theater airlifter and a Ranch Hand sprayer.

Designed by the Chase Aircraft Co. just after World War II, and built by Fairchild, the C-123 evolved from earlier large assault glider designs.

Fairchild C-123K Provider
Fairchild C-123K Provider

The prototype XC-123, basically a glider powered by two piston engines, made its initial flight in 1949. A second prototype was built as the unpowered XG-20 glider.

Chase began manufacturing the C-123B in 1953, but the contract was transferred to Fairchild, which built about 300 C-123Bs.

Providers entered service with the USAF's 309th Troop Carrier Group (Assault) in 1955, and this unit conducted several practice combat landings with U.S. Army troops.

Between 1966 and 1969, 184 C-123Bs were converted to C-123Ks with the addition of two J85 jet engines. These jet engines increased the C-123's payload weight by a third, shortened its takeoff distance, improved its climb rate, and gave a much greater margin of safety should one of the piston engines fail.

Other C-123Bs and C-123Js supplied USAF sites in arctic regions from the late 1950s into the mid-1970s.

As the war in Southeast Asia wound down, the U.S. transferred some of its Providers to the South Vietnamese Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force. The remaining USAF C-123s were transferred to the Air Force Reserve, which flew them into the mid-1980s. Other operators of the Provider included the U.S. Coast Guard, the Philippines, South Korea and Venezuela.

A total of 307 C-123 aircraft were built by Fairchild.

C-123 Provider Photographs by Airplanes Online

Fairchild C-123K Provider at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah
Fairchild C-123K Provider
C-123K Provider
Nose section of the Fairchild C-123K Provider at Hill AFB

USAF C-123 Photo

Fairchild C-123B Providers in flight
Fairchild C-123B Providers in flight

Historic Image of the C-123 Provider from the Airplanes Online Collection

Chase Aircraft Corporation XC-123, S/N 7786, Buzz Number CZ-786, in flight
Chase Aircraft Corporation XC-123, S/N 7786, Buzz Number CZ-786, in flight