The C-131/T-29 is a USAF transport version of the Convair 240/340/440 series commercial airliners. The first Samaritan, a C-131A derived from the Convair 240, was delivered to the Air Force in 1954. It was similar to the T-29 (Flying Classroom) trainer (also based on the Convair 240) flown by the USAF since 1949 to instruct navigators, bombardiers and radio operators. A total of 472 of these aircraft were built. The first T-29A made its initial flight on 22 September, 1949 at Lindburg Field in San Diego CA. The cabin has fourteen fully-equipped stations for students or instructors and one radio-operator’s station. Each student has access to a map table, Loran scope, altimeter, and radio compass panel. In the roof of the fuselage are four astrodomes through which students can take sights with sextants. Five drift meters are also included. The production order for 48 unpressurized T-29A models followed the flight. There were 105 T-29B and 119 T-29C aircraft models built. The T-29B and C model fuselages were pressurized. The distinctive feature of the T-29D (first of the 93 purchased was flown in August 1953) was the installation of the K system bomb sight and camera scoring capability. Some T-29s also saw duty as staff transports. The C-131 was acquired primarily for medical evacuation and personnel transportation. A few C-131s were used for training and testing. In fact, the first prototype of the Southeast Asia vintage side-firing “Gunship” program used the C-131 airframe. Fifteen C-131Es were built in 1956 and 1957 for use as electronic countermeasures trainers by SAC. SAC also used the aircraft for administrative support purposes. Nearly all of the USAF’s C-131s were inactivated in the late 1970s, but a few were still serving in Air National Guard units in the mid-1980s. Its principal mission was the transportation of personnel and its last assignment was with the South Dakota Air National Guard.
Convair built a total of 472 T-29/C-131 aircraft for the USAF. Breakout is as follows:
Length: 74 ft. 8 in.
Height: 26 ft. 11 in.
Weight: 43,575 lbs. loaded
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-97/-99W of 2,500 hp.ea. with water/alcohol injection
Crew: Four plus 14/16/2 stations for student navigators
Cost: $635,000 Approx.
Serial number: T-29A: 49-1910/1945 50-183/194 T-29B: 51-3795/3816: -5114/5172:-7892/7917 T-29C: 52-2091/1175: 53-3461/3495 T-29D: 52-1176/1185: -5812/5836: -9976/9980: 53-3495/3546
Maximum speed: 296/299 mph.
Cruising speed: 248/286 mph.
Range: 1,500/760 miles
Service Ceiling: 23,500/24,000 ft.