WINGING IT: Outer wings installed on C-119 ‘Flying Boxcar’

Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum volunteers have finished installing the outer wings on a C-119 “Flying Boxcar” aircraft which has been moved to a display site near Columbus Municipal Airport.

The roughly 38,000-pound plane, which is not airworthy, was taken apart last year at an airport in Greybull, Wyoming, where the aircraft’s parts were loaded onto trucks and driven 1,460 miles to Columbus. At an airport restoration hangar, much of the aircraft was gradually reassembled and restored over the course of several months.

The volunteers have installed the 2,200-pound outer wings onto the plane’s iconic fuselage, offering the public a first glimpse of the aircraft’s full 110-foot wingspan, said Skip Taylor, a museum member who is co-leading the C-119 project.

Several days before installing the wings, the volunteers, along with the help along with the help of the Kentucky Air National Guard, Force Construction and others, used a crane to lift the 32,000-pound fuselage about 4 to 5 feet off the ground and carry it about 0.75 miles from a hangar off Warren Drive to its display site just south of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II aircraft now on display near the museum.

“It’s there,” Taylor said. “The next thing we’re going to do is put the propellers on it, and then that will be all the major pieces on the plane.”

The project’s volunteers hope to install the propellers by the end of this month, but there is no estimated timetable for when the interior of the aircraft will be ready for the public to see, Taylor said.

“Right now, we’re trying to figure out how (the propellers) go on, so we’re doing a little research,” Taylor said.

The C-119, also known as the “Flying Boxcar” due to the unusual shape of its fuselage, was in service with the U.S. Air Force from 1947 to 1972 and was designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients and mechanized equipment. The aircraft was also used to drop cargo and troops using parachutes, according to the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum.

The Flying Boxcars were powered by two Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclone radial engines, each with 3,500 horsepower, and could reach a maximum speed of 296 miles per hour.

The U.S. Air Force extensively used C-119s during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Retired C-119s were also used as air tankers to fight wildfires in the United States.

The particular C-119 purchased by the museum was built in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the Canadian Air Force, Taylor said. The aircraft was later acquired by Hawkins & Powers and used to fight forest fires. Its last known flight was in 1990.

The Flying Boxcars are of particular historical significance to Columbus, according to museum volunteers. Here, the pilots referred to them as the “Dollar Nineteens,” according to museum records.

From 1957 to 1969, 36 C-119s for the 434th Troop Carrier Wing were stationed at Bakalar Air Force Base, which is now Columbus Municipal Airport. The C-119s were a staple in Columbus, flown out of the base longer than any other aircraft.

Manufacturers Fairchild and Kaiser built 1,151 of the C-119s from 1949 to 1955. However, only around 40 Flying Boxcars are still left today, most of them in museums across the country or in a scrap yard.

The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum purchased the plane for $15,000 in 2019.

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To learn more about the C-119 ‘Flying Boxcar’ project, visit