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C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain II
A C-9A Nightingale used for Aeromedical Evacuation
Role Military transport aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Introduction 1968
Retired September 2005 (USAF C-9A)
Status Retired
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
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. Naval Reserve and Marine Corps. The final active-duty flight of the C-9A Nightingale was in September 2005.[1] The Boeing C-40 Clipper is replacing the Navy Reserve's aging C-9B fleet.[2][3]

Design and development

In 1966, the US Air Force identified a need for an aeromedical transport aircraft. The following year the Air Force ordered C-9A Nightingale aircraft. Deliveries began in 1968.[4] The C-9As were used for medical evacuation (MedEvac), passenger transportation, and special missions from 1968 to 2005. The first C-9A aircraft was named for Florence Nightingale.[citation needed]

A USAF C-9A Nightingale in 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.[4] The C-9B aircraft have provided cargo and passenger transportation as well as forward deployed air logistics support for the Navy and Marine Corps. A C-9B was also chosen by NASA for reduced gravity research,[5] replacing the aging KC-135 Vomit Comet.

Many of the Navy's C-9Bs have a higher maximum gross take-off weight (114,000 lb or 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 (4,200 km) for overseas missions along with tail mounted infra-red (IR) scramblers to counter heat seeking missile threats in hostile environments.[citation needed]

File:NHZDC9 WIKI.jpg

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.[6]


  • C-9A Nightingale - 23 aeromedical evacuation aircraft for the United States Air Force received from 1968.[7]
  • C-9B Skytrain II - 24 convertible passenger/transport versions for the United States Navy and Marine Corps delivered from 1973 to 1976. An additional five C-9s were converted from passenger configured DC-9s.[7]
  • VC-9C - 3 executive transport aircraft for the United States Air Force.[7] The three aircraft were delivered to the US Air Force in late 1976.
  • C-9K - 2 aircraft for the Kuwait Air Force.[7]


A US Navy C-9B Skytrain II

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
  • 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Scott AFB, Illinois 1968-2003
11th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
57th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1973-94
375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2003
  • 405th Fighter Wing - Clark Air Base, The Philippines 1972-74
20th Operations Squadron
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Group
10th Aeromedical Evacuation Group
55th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
2d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
  • 932d Aeromedical Airlift Group/Aeromedical Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Scott AFB, Illinois 1969-2005
73d Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
73d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1972-94
932d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2005


  • 89th Military Airlift Wing/Airlift Wing - Andrews AFB, Maryland 1975-2005
1st Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1977-88
98th Military Airlift Squadron 1975-77
99th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1988-2005
73d Airlift Squadron

United States Navy (C-9B)

  • Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 46 - NAS Atlanta, Georgia 1985-2009
NAS/JRB Fort Worth, Texas 2009-12
  • Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 52 - NAS Willow Grove, Pennsylvania 1972-2011
McGuire AFB, New Jersey 2011-12
  • Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 56 - NAS Norfolk, Virginia 1976-99
NAS Oceana, Virginia 1999-2011
  • Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 57 - NAS North Island, California 1977-2005
  • Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 58 - NAS Jacksonville, Florida 1978-2002
  • Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 59 - NAS Dallas, Texas 1982-1998
NAS/JRB Fort Worth, Texas 1998-2000

United States Marine Corps (C-9B)

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

National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA)

  • Johnson Space Center 2003-

Specifications (C-9B)

The cockpit of a C-9B Skytrain

Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power[4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5 to 8
  • Length: 119 ft 3 in (36.36 m)
  • Wingspan: 93 ft 5 in (28.42 m)
  • Height: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
  • Wing area: 1,001 ft² (92.97 m²)
  • Empty weight: 59,700 lb (27,080 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 110,000 lb (49,900 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9 turbofan, 14,500 lbf (64.5 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.84 (576 mph, 927 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 504 mph (485 knots, 811 km/h)
  • Range: 2,900 mi (4,700 km)
  • Service ceiling: 37,000 ft (11,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 3,000+ ft/min (900+ m/min)

See also


  1. "Historic C-9 heads to Andrews for retirement". US Air Force, 24 September 2005.
  2. C-40A Clipper history page. US Navy, 16 November 2000.
  3. "C-9B Skytrain II Completes 30 years of Continuous Fleet Support". US Navy, 2 June 2003.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Gunston, Bill, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Air Power. New York, NY: Crescent Books, 1986. ISBN 0-517-49969-X.
  5. The History of C-9B Reduced Gravity Research Program. NASA/JSC, March 25, 2008
  6. C-9 Skytrain fact file. US Navy, 15 April 2005.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 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.

External links

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