Fairchild C-82 Packet

C-82 Packet
Role Cargo and troop transport
National origin United States
Manufacturer Fairchild Aircraft
First flight 10 September 1944
Primary user United States Army Air Forces
Produced 1944–1948
Number built 223
Developed into C-119 Flying Boxcar

The C-82 Packet was a twin-engined, twin-boom cargo aircraft designed and built by Fairchild Aircraft. It was used briefly by the United States Army Air Forces and the successor United States Air Force following World War II. The aircraft was named as a tribute to the Packet Boats that hauled mail, passengers and freight in Europe and its colonies, including North American rivers and canals, for much of the 18th and 19th century.

Design and development

Developed by Fairchild, the C-82 was intended as a heavy-lift cargo aircraft to succeed prewar civilian designs like the Curtiss C-46 Commando and Douglas C-47 Dakota using non-critical materials in its construction, primarily plywood and steel, so as not to compete with the production of combat aircraft. However, by early 1943 changes in specifications resulted in plans for an all-metal aircraft. The aircraft was designed for a number of roles, including cargo carrier, troop transport, parachute drop, medical evacuation, and glider towing. It featured a rear-loading ramp with wide doors and an empennage set 14 feet off the ground that permitted trucks and trailers to back up to the doors without obstruction. The single prototype first flew on 10 September 1944. The aircraft were built at the Fairchild factory in Hagerstown, Maryland, with deliveries beginning in 1945 and ending in September 1948.

Problems surfaced almost immediately as the aircraft was found to be underpowered and its airframe inadequate for the heavy lifting it was intended to perform. As a result, the Air Force turned to Fairchild for a solution to the C-82's shortcomings. A redesign was quickly performed under the designation XC-82B, which would overcome all of the C-82A's initial problems.

Operational history

Trans World Airlines Packet in 1959
C-82A Packet freighter of Cruzeiro (Brasil) at Santos Dumont Airport, Rio de Janeiro, in May 1972
Packet of Taxpa Airlines (Chile) in 1972

First flown in 1944, the first delivery was not until June 1945 and only a few entered service before the end of the war. In the end, only 223 C-82As would be built, a small number for a wartime production cargo aircraft. Most were used for cargo and troop transport, although a few were used for paratroop operations or towing military gliders. During its brief operational life, several C-82 Packets were utilized during the Berlin Airlift, primarily bringing large disassembled vehicles into the city. A redesign of the XC-82B would result in the production of the C-119 Flying Boxcar.

In 1946, the United States Postal Service explored the concept of flying post offices using highly modified C-82s which would operate similar to those on trains where mail would be sorted by clerks and put in bags and then transferred to trucks on landing.[1]

In 1948, a C-82 was fitted with track-gear landing gear, similar to the tracks on a crawler tractor, that allowed landings on unpaved, primitive runways.[2]

Though relatively unsuccessful, the C-82A is best considered as an early development stage of the C-119B Flying Boxcar. The C-82A saw limited production before being replaced by the Flying Boxcar.

The C-82 was retired from the US Air Force inventory in 1954.[3]

Civil airline operations

After the C-82A became surplus to United States Air Force requirements, small numbers were sold to civilian operators in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and the United States and these were utilized for many years as rugged freight aircraft capable of carrying bulky items of cargo. The last example was retired in the late 1980s.


Prototype, one built.[4]
C-82A Packet
Initial production version, 220 built.[4]
1948, fitted with Firestone-designed tracked landing gear. 13 aircraft allocated for conversion from C-82A, but only one completed .[4][5]
1947, fitted with 2650hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines as a precursor to the C-119 series. One converted from a C-82A.[4]
1946, Production aircraft built by North American Aviation. Only three were completed, before the remaining 997 were cancelled.[4]
Steward-Davis Jet-Packet 1600
1956, civil conversion of Fairchild C-82A with 1,600 pounds-force (7.1 kN) Westinghouse J30-W turbojet booster engine in pod above upper fuselage. At least three converted.[6]
Steward-Davis Jet-Packet 3200
Conversion of Jet-Packet 1600 with two J30-W engines in above-fuselage pod. One converted in 1957.[6]
Jet-Packet 3400
Jet-Packet with single Westinghouse J34-WE-34 (3,250 lbf (14.5 kN)) or J-34-WE-36 (3,400 lbf (15 kN)). At least four converted from 1962.[6]
Steward-Davis Jet-Packet II
Airframe weight reduction programme to increase cargo weights and increased power from Pratt & Whitney R-2800CB-16 engines. Application applied to at least three Jet-Packet 1600 or 3400, including the TWA C-82A Ontos.[6]
Steward-Davis Skytruck I
1964, C-82A aircraft with 60,000 lb takeoff weight, improved performance and a hot-air de-icing system, one converted. The Skytruck brand-name was allegedly the inspiration for Elleston Trevor's Skytruck in the 1964 novel, The Flight of the Phoenix.
Steward-Davis Skypallet
1965 A C-82A redesign with the fuselage floor separating from the aircraft from nose to tail for large cargoes and the installation of an internal hoist. Only one aircraft was converted.[6]


 United States


Aircraft on display


United States


Specifications (C-82A)

Fairchild C-82 Packet dropping paratroops in training exercise
C-82s and cargo
Three C-82s and various troops and cargo in 1948

Data from United States Military Aircraft since 1909 [9]

General characteristics


Fairchild C-82A N53228 painted in the markings of the fictional Arabco Oil Company for the film "The Flight of the Phoenix"

The C-82 is perhaps best known for its role in the 1964 novel, The Flight of the Phoenix, and Robert Aldrich's original 1965 film version. Based on the novel by Elleston Trevor, the story centers around a C-82A Packet operated by the fictional Arabco Oil Company. It crashes in a Libyan desert, and is rebuilt by the passengers and crew, using one tail boom, and is then flown to safety. The C-82, although with added amphibious ability, was the basis for the airplane in Disney's TaleSpin cartoon.

Fairchild C-82 Packet

Minor league baseball namesake

In 1953, the local minor league baseball team in Hagerstown, Maryland, was the Hagerstown Braves, so called because they were a minor league affiliate of the major league Milwaukee Braves. The Hagerstown team switched affiliates to the Washington Senators for the 1954 season. Instead of using the major league nickname, they chose to be called the Hagerstown Packets in tribute to the C-82.[11] The Hagerstown Packets played in the Piedmont League during the 1954 and 1955 seasons.[12]

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. "Tomorrow's Mail Trains". Popular Science, May 1946.
  2. Popular Science, August 1948, p. 79.
  3. "Fairchild C-82A Packet." McChord Air Museum. Retrieved: 24 August 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "American Airplanes: Fairchild." Aerofiles.com, 11 December 2008. Retrieved: 11 October 2011.
  5. Beck, Simon. "C-82 Packet." c82packet.com. Retrieved: 31 December 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "American airplanes: St - Sz: Steward-Davies". Aerofiles.com. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  7. "The last flying C-82." Hagarstown Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 13 November 2010.
  8. "Fairchild C-82 Packet." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 29 August 2015.
  9. Swanborough and Bowers 1963, p. 265.
  10. Swanborough and Bowers 1963, p. 261.
  11. "Packets Selected as Nickname". The Morning Herald. Hagerstown, Maryland. December 23, 1953.
  12. "Hagerstown, Maryland Minor League History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  • Lloyd, Alwyn T. Fairchild C-82 Packet and C-119 Flying Boxcar. Hinckley, UK: Aerofax, 2005 ISBN 1-85780-201-2
  • Swanborough, F.G. and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, First edition, 1963.
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