McDonnell Douglas C-9

McDonnell Douglas C-9
C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain II
USAF C-9 Nightingale in 1968
Role Jet transport
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Introduction 1968
Retired September 2005 (USAF C-9A)
Status Retired / Active (C-9B)
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 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 original C9A aircraft delivered to the 375th AAW at Scott Air Force Base was named after Florence Nightengale in her honor by LT Col. Mary Ann Tonne, chief nurse, 375th AAW 1968.

C-9 Nightingale used for Aeromedical Evacuation

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.

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] Three aircraft (73-1681, 73-1682, 73-1683) 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

Specifications (C-9B)

The cockpit of a C-9 Skytrain

Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power[4]

General characteristics


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  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. ^ a b c 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. ^ a b c d 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.

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