The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is the largest western military aircraft ever built, and fully loaded it can weigh nearly a million pounds. One of the most amazing, and troublesome, of its components are its finicky landing gear, especially the twin truck nose gear that kneels so cargo can be loaded via the Galaxy's front door.

As one crew chief put it to me: "when a Galaxy takes a bow there is a 50% chance it will stand back up again."

Many of the C-5's issues have supposedly been addressed in the new C-5M Super Galaxy, which has a new glass cockpit, more powerful CF6 engines, updated wiring, skin, landing gear and a host of improvements aimed at fixing the C-5's historically low reliability, along with adding wildly enhanced performance.


Although the C-5M is a relatively young modification, and the C-5M fleet is very small, its serviceability rate is about on par with its unmodified C-5A counterpart, at about 67%. This number, although improved since years past, is far below other airlifters and most combat aircraft in the USAF's inventory.

Still, if you need to get trucks and material and passengers deployed – along with everything from rescue submersibles to ICBMs – the C-5 is still the best (and sometimes the only) option to make that happen.

Image via Lockheed Martin

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address

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