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Kiwi Hercs celebrate 50 years in service

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 27, 2015

NZ7001 wearing the 50th anniversary tail art. (Mike Millett)

The first C-130H Hercules delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force has celebrated its 50th birthday while on operations supporting the Vanuatu cyclone recovery effort.

NZ7001 was the first of five C-130Hs delivered the RNZAF at Whenuapai on March 24 1965. On its 50th birthday, the aircraft was tasked to fly from Suva to Port Vila with a Fijian aid team before returning to Whenuapai that evening. To commemorate the milestone NZ7001 has been painted with a special 50th anniversary tail art scheme which it will wear for a year.

“In the 50 years these amazing aircraft have served New Zealand, they have spanned the globe supporting everything you could expect of an air transport aircraft, both in peace time and on active operations,” the CO of 40SQN, SQNLDR Steve Thornley, said. “This month alone we have seen C-130s delivering aid, supporting NZDF personnel in the Middle East and moving an elephant for Auckland Zoo. It is this sort of utility that keeps these aircraft in such high demand all over the world and is a testament to both the quality of design and the commitment of those that work on them that the first of our fleet of five has reached this milestone.”

The five C-130Hs were recently upgraded under the NZ$255m (A$247m) Hercules Life Extension Program which saw the replacement of various mechanical, structural and avionics components designed to extend the fleet for another decade.

In the meantime, the effort to replace the venerable Hercules has ramped up in recent weeks with the launch by Airbus of a media campaign in New Zealand for its A400M airlifter. The campaign comes after a visit to the region by a French air force A400M for the Avalon Airshow in February where the aircraft was toured by NZ Defence officials, and in February a demonstration of the capabilities of an RAAF Boeing C-17 in New Zealand.


New Zealand hopes to replace the C-130s and its two Boeing 757 transports with a common type, one that can support that country’s overseas coalition commitments as well as its Antarctic interests.

With Boeing reportedly holding an order for two of its last C-17s for an unnamed customer it has been rumoured that these may be for New Zealand, but Airbus is not giving up.

“We think we need to speak up and explain there is an alternative,” Airbus defence manager NZ Valentin Merino told the New Zealand Herald. “We have a feeling we need to explain there is an alternative to the C-17 to comply with what New Zealand wants to do.”

NZ’s Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Helene Quilter, is briefed on the A400M at the Avalon Airshow.


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Comments (11)

  • Chris


    The RNZAF has to replace more than 2 B752C and 5 C130H. 10 Andovers based on the HS748 but with a tail ramp were not replaced when retired in the late 1990s. They were equivalent to the Caribou and C27J but their short range were a handicap in the Pacific AO.
    6 P3Ks were upgraded for SAR recently but these B airframes like their Hercules which followed our long retired Es off the assembly line need to be factored in. Both have the capacity to carry 28-30mtonnes fuel necessary in the AO. Just over 10mtonnes in the Kiwi Hercs external fuel tanks.
    Germany and Spain are both looking to on sell a bakers dozen of A400Ms. The swept wings and counter rotating props deliver turbofan speeds at turbo prop economics. The engines are the same, direction change is done by gearboxes. Port and starboard props are required.
    The A400M can match the 4,000nm range of the B752C. Palletized lie flat seating could augment the sidewall seating if the VIPs require it. The 70kmhr lower cruise speed should not be an issue.
    The C17A ER requires 45m wide runways. The A400M B752C, C130 and P3 30m wide runways. The Kiwi LAV3 is 20mtonnes. The A400M can carry one, another MAN 4×4 or Pingauzer 6×6 and ~60 PAX on the sidewall seating. Palletised CASA FITS or similar could do SAR.
    These are the reasons I think the A400M is more likely for the RNZAF. It would fit nicely between the RAAFs C130J30, E7A, P8A and C17A ER.

  • Alan


    The replacement of both C130 and B757 will not be replaced by 1 common type.

  • George


    Reading why the RAAF seattled on c-17 and c-130J c-27J makes sound sense.
    The bottom line was pallets, the is interchangeable between three aircraft types.

    Where as the A-400 takes a different size pallet.

    The RNZAF needs to be rebuild from the ground up, Having a mix of four C-17
    Six c-130J, would give the RNZAF resonable airlift and interoperability with both
    The RAAF and USAF which makes more sense.

    The A-400 is a great aeroplane, with alot of abilities
    But not being able to interface with our partners is a problem, therefore increasing misson
    preperation time on combined operations, with loads having to be transfered to other

    The Labour Government devistated the New Zealand Defense Forces, National has almost
    nine years to rebuild it, and has not done much., except help the ritch get ritcher.

    The RNZAF needs to be build up to what it previously was, by butting the FORCE
    Back into to it, by investing in a Squadron of F-18E at the same time, would go a
    long way to help New Zealand employment situation out.

    “Happy Birthday Herc NZ7001 and your stablemates, on 50 Years of Service and
    a great safety record, well done to all thoses over the 50 years, that have had the
    Privilege to Fly Maintain, and otherwise be associated with our Hercules”

    Can we also ensure that NZ7001 has a museum to retire to for the rest of her days.

    Come on John give the Defense Force what it needs, which is helping New Zealand
    in many ways, with over 270 Billion in the consoldated fund, buying a few Aircraft
    willgive opportunity to many.

  • Chris


    George, do you think the RAF would accept 22 A400M that did not use the same 463L pallet as the C130J, J30 and C17A they already have?
    I just lost a detailed set of reasons whilst editing why you are mistaken so in brief.
    463L 88″x108″ 2.24×2.75m 4.7mtonnes max
    A400M cabin 4m clear at floor – 2.75 = 1.25m. Passages 2′ 61+cm either side. Sidewall seating offset another 1′ 30.5cm therefore 54 PAX can be carried whilst 7 pallets sideways in the cabin and 2 on ramp within 37mtonne payload limit.
    C17A 14 pallets cabin plus 4 ramp lengthwise in pairs has 50cm passages in 5.5m wide cabin.
    C130H or J 5 pallets sideways cabin 1 ramp.
    C130J30 7 pallets sideways cabin 1 ramp.
    Hercules mid cabin above landing gear beneath wing 10′ 3.05m wide. 6″ 15cm either side too narrow to pass. Cabin height 9′ 2.75m at least 1m lower than A400M and C17A.
    Limits loadmasters access by climbing over.
    C27J 3 pallets lengthwise in cabin 1/2 on ramp. 2.44m wide cabin – 2.24m = 4″ 10cm either side. 3.33m max cabin an obstacle to load.aster. Cabin height 2.24 shoulder to 2.6m max middle restricts 463L heights C17A, C130H,J,J30 into hub and out to spoke. Otherwise 176 Air Despatch have to do break bulk at hub. 1/2 length pallets necessitate extra work at base or hub too. Ramp height lower than cabin.
    V22 463L pallets not fit cabin. Carry externally on hook.
    C17A ER 75mtonne payload. C17A 77.5 mtonne payload USAF 1st 70 airframes no wing tank above fuselage.
    C130s ~ 22mtonnes depending on G load.
    C27J ~ 11mtonnes depending on G load.
    V22 ~ 4.7mtonne each 2 hooks. VTOL minimal fuel. One pallet most likely operational mode. No pallet height restriction nor need 1/2 pallets. Can move pallets delivered by LAPES into AO for delivery to forward locations where needed.

  • Paul


    2 x C17 to replace B757

    4 x A400M to replace the 5 Herks by 2020


  • Jeff Edwards


    I was in Fiji in 1978 on my honeymoon when the first RAAF H models were transiting through to Australia I did not know that we were getting Hercules models that were 13 years old, must have got them at a good price.

  • Peter Clark


    After researching the RNZAF C-130H aircraft story, there seems to be some errors in the 50 year history. The date that is being used seems to be the date the first aircraft NZ7001 was partially handed over to NZ Defence to commence conversion and training, this was said to be 24 March 1965. This aircraft had its first flight on 18 November 1964 at the Lockheed Marietta Plant.
    Air force Historian Paul Harrison notes and has told me that NZ7001 was first flown by a New Zealand crew in the USA on 1 April 1965 and the three Hercules of the initial batch departed the United States on 8 April 1965 and arrived in Wellington on 14 April 1965 to a formal Prime Ministerial welcome. The first three C-130H aircraft were officially taken on charge by the RNZAF on 15 April 1965. This is the day to celebrate 50 years on.
    So the 50 year celebration has come to early, we didn’t even own the aircraft
    Further to the debate on the replacements. I see two C-17 aircraft, and so we can work with the RAAF. And up to 6 KC390 aircraft from Brazil a great new modern transport aircraft, and foots the bill in so many ways. We could even add a leased BBJ if required and the budget was found.

  • Peter Clark


    One more thing, only four C-130H(NZ) Hercules aircraft are flying. The fifth NZ7002 is still under the LEP (Life Extension Program) conversion. It is not planned to re-join the RNZAF until December, 2015.

  • Chris


    Jeff Edwards, the RAAF C130H were not 13 yo, the design was. They certainly were not Early Adopters like the RNZAF accepting reasonable technological risk on a minor design change from E to H. Contrast that to the C130J30 major change in technology in one giant leap 2 decades later.
    Peter Clark I am waiting for more detail on the Brazilian and Japanese designs to be placed in the public domain before commenting about their suitability. The RNZAF funding timescale will determine the selected design.
    I think the RNZAF should select one alrounder that they can totally support themselves. Not mimick allies in such small numbers that they become totally reliant on others who do not share their interests and priorities in times of need. Kiwis find a niche and fill it uniquely in Oceania in an affordable manner.

  • Paul


    What ever it is it must be able to carry our NH90s – so may be risky having only 2 aircraft that can carry them:

    C17 can carry 2 NH90s – A400 only 1

    C130J-C27J – none

    C295 OR KC390 dont think so?

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