McDonnell Douglas C-9

C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain II
A C-9A Nightingale used for Aeromedical Evacuation
Role Jet transport
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Introduction 1968
Retired September 2005 (USAF C-9A);
July 2014 (USN C-9B)
Status In limited service
Primary users United States Air Force (historical)
United States Navy (historical)
United States Marine Corps
Kuwait Air Force
Number built 48
Developed from McDonnell Douglas DC-9

The McDonnell Douglas C-9 is a military version of the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliner. It was produced as the C-9A Nightingale for the United States Air Force, and the C-9B Skytrain II for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The final flight of the C-9A Nightingale was in September 2005,[1] and the C-9C was retired in September 2011. The U.S. Navy retired its last C-9B in July 2014.[2] Two C-9Bs remain in service with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Design and development

In 1966, the U.S. Air Force identified a need for an aeromedical transport aircraft and ordered C-9A Nightingale aircraft the following year. Deliveries began in 1968.[3] The U.S. Air Force received 21 C-9A aircraft from 1968 to 1969.[4] The C-9As were used for medical evacuation, passenger transportation, and special missions from 1968 to 2005. The C-9A were named for English social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), the founder of modern nursing.[5]

U.S. Air Force C-9A Nightingale, 1968

After selecting a modified DC-9 for passenger and cargo transport, the U.S. Navy ordered its first five C-9Bs in April 1972.[3] The C-9B aircraft have provided cargo and passenger transportation as well as forward deployed air logistics support for the Navy and Marine Corps. (The original "Skytrain" was the famous C-47 of the World War II era, developed from the civilian DC-3.) A C-9B was also chosen by NASA for reduced gravity research,[6] replacing the aging KC-135 Vomit Comet.

Many of the Navy's C-9Bs have a higher maximum gross take-off weight of 114,000 lb (52,000 kg) and are fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks installed in the lower cargo hold to augment the aircraft's range to nearly 2,600 nautical miles (4,800 km) for overseas missions along with tail mounted infra-red scramblers to counter heat seeking missile threats in hostile environments.

A C-9 Skytrain II offloading on the ramp at Naval Air Station Brunswick.

The C-9 fleet was located throughout the continental U.S., Europe, and Asia.[7]



A US Navy C-9B Skytrain II
A US Air Force McDonnell Douglas VC-9C (DC-9-32), used often as Air Force Two or to transport first ladies.
 United States

United States Air Force

75th Airlift Squadron
2d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1993-94
86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2003
20th Operations Squadron 1974-75
20th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron 1975-89
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Group 1974-75
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1975-89
20th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1989-93
30th Airlift Squadron 1993-2004
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1993-94
374th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2004
11th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
57th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1973-94
375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2003
20th Operations Squadron
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Group
10th Aeromedical Evacuation Group
55th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
2d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
73d Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
73d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1972-94
932d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2005
76th Airlift Squadron
1st Military Airlift Squadron 1977-88
98th Military Airlift Squadron 1975-77
99th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1988-2005
58th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron (Chievres Air Base, Belgium)
73d Airlift Squadron

United States Navy

NAS/JRB Fort Worth, Texas 2009-12
McGuire AFB, New Jersey 2011-12
NAS Oceana, Virginia 1999-2011
NAS/JRB Fort Worth, Texas 1998-2000

United States Marine Corps

Station Operations and Engineering Squadron 1975-97
Marine Transport Squadron (VMR) 1 1997-

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Specifications (C-9B)

The cockpit of a C-9B Skytrain

Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power[3]

General characteristics


Aircraft on display

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. "Historic C-9 heads to Andrews for retirement". US Air Force, 24 September 2005.
  3. 1 2 3 Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Air Power. New York, NY: Crescent Books, 1986. ISBN 0-517-49969-X.
  4. 1 2 Birtles, Philip. Douglas DC-9, pp. 109, 116-120, Airlife Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84037-318-0.
  5. McEntee, Marni (August 5, 2003). "Air Force retiring Nightingale fleet". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  6. The History of C-9B Reduced Gravity Research Program. NASA/JSC, March 25, 2008
  7. C-9 Skytrain fact file. US Navy, 15 April 2005.
  8. 1 2 3 Becher, Thomas. Douglas Twinjets, DC-9, MD-90, MD-90 and Boeing 717, pp. 170-176, Crowood Press, Aviation Series, 2002. ISBN 1-86126-446-1.
  9. Drummer, Janene L. and Wilcoxson, Kathryn A. "Chronological History of the C-9A Nightingale." March 2001. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
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