Strategic Air Transport in Support of the War (Mar 1967)
With Vietnam over 7,000 miles distant from the West Coast of the USA, the American military relied heavily on strategic air transport for the rapid delivery of personnel and supplies, supplemented by sealift for heavy or bulky equipment and large quantities of ammunition and stores. When the conflict in Vietnam started the USAF’s Military Air Transport Service was in the throes of updating its older transports such as the C-121 Constellation, C-124 Globemaster and C-133 Cargomaster with jet aircraft, specifically the C-135 Stratolifter and C-141 Starlifter. MATS was replaced by the USAF’s Military Airlift Command in January 1967 while the US Navy operated a small fleet of transport aircraft. During the war MAC was supplemented by contracted civilian air carriers including: Pan Am, TWA, United, Continental, Northwest, Braniff, Overseas National, Flying Tiger and Seaboard World, the last two airlines flying cargo as well as passengers. Only two strategic transport aircraft were lost during the war, both of them C-141s which crashed within three weeks of each other in accidents which claimed 11 lives.