The Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) XC-142 was a tri-service tiltwing experimental aircraft designed to investigate the operational suitability of vertical/short take-off and landing (V/STOL) transports.
An XC-142A first flew conventionally on 29 September 1964, and on 11 January 1965, it completed its first transitional flight by taking off vertically, changing to forward flight and finally landing vertically.
Its service sponsors pulled out of the program one by one, and it eventually ended due to a lack of interest after demonstrating its capabilities successfully.
In 1959 the United States Army, Navy and Air Force began work on the development of a prototype V/STOL aircraft that could augment helicopters in transport-type missions.
Specifically, they were interested in designs with longer range and higher speeds than existing helicopters, in order to support operations over longer distances, or in the case of the United States Marine Corps, from further offshore.
On 27 January 1961, a series of DOD actions resulted in an agreement where all of the military services would work on the Tri-Service Assault Transport Program under the Navy’s Bureau of Naval Weapons (BuWeps) leadership.
The original outline had been drawn up as a replacement for the Sikorsky HR2S, with a payload on the order of 10,000 lb (4,500 kg).
BuWeps released a revised specification that specified the same payload but extended the operational radius to 250 miles (400 km) and increased the cruising airspeed to 250–300 knots (460–560 km/h) and the maximum airspeed to 300–400 knots (560–740 km/h).
However, for the Marine Corps mission, the requirement stated that the fuel load could be reduced so that the maximum gross weight would not exceed 35,000 pounds (16,000 kg), as long as a 100-nautical-mile (190 km) radius was maintained.
Vought responded with a proposal combining engineering from their own design arm, as well as Ryan and Hiller, who had more extensive helicopter experience.
Their proposal won the design contest, and a contract for five prototypes was signed in early 1962 with first flight specified for July 1964.
The design was initially known as the Vought-Ryan-Hiller XC-142, but when Vought became part of the LTV conglomerate this naming was dropped.
During the prototype development the Navy decided to exit the program.
They were concerned that the strong propeller downwash would make it difficult to operate.
Their existing HR2S fleet had a ground pressure of about 7.5 psi (500 hPa) and proved to blow people about on the ground and stir up considerable amounts of debris.
The C-142 was predicted to have an even higher loading of 10 psi (700 hPa), which they believed would limit it to operations to and from prepared landing pads and was therefore unsuitable for assault operations.
The first prototype made its first conventional flight on 29 September 1964, first hover on 29 December 1964, and first transition on 11 January 1965.
The first XC-142A was delivered to the Air Force test team in July 1965.
During the XC-142A program, a total of 420 hours were flown in 488 flights.
The five XC-142As were flown by 39 different military and civilian pilots.
Tests included carrier operations, simulated rescues, paratrooper drops, and low-level cargo extraction.
During testing the aircraft’s cross-linked driveshaft proved to be its Achilles heel.
The shaft resulted in excessive vibration and noise, resulting in a high pilot workload.
Additionally, it proved susceptible to problems due to wing flexing.
Shaft problems, along with operator errors, resulted in a number of hard landings causing damage.
One crash occurred as a result of a failure of the driveshaft to the tail rotor, causing three fatalities.
One of the limitations found in the aircraft was an instability between wing angles of 35 and 80 degrees, encountered at extremely low altitudes.
There were also high side forces which resulted from yaw and weak propeller blade pitch angle controls.
The new “2FF” propellers also proved to generate less thrust than predicted.
Five aircraft were built, only one still survives.
XC-142A is on display in the experimental aircraft hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.
32 fully equipped troops
24 stretcher patients and 4 attendants
8,000 lb (3,600 kg) cargo
58 ft 1 in (17.70 m)
67 ft 6 in (20.57 m)
26 ft 1 in (7.95 m)
534.5 sq ft (49.66 m2)
22,595 lb (10,249 kg)
34,474 lb (15,637 kg) (VTOL weight)
Max take-off weight
44,500 lb (20,185 kg) (STOL)
1,400 US gal (1,200 imp gal; 5,300 L)
4 × General Electric T64-GE-1 turboprops,
2,850 shp (2,130 kW) each
4-bladed Hamilton Standard variable-pitch propellers,