It was necessary to change one of the huge drift rudders of this giant

The atypical repair in Spain of a C-5M Super Galaxy, the largest aircraft in the US Air Force

Among large military aircraft, the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy of the United States Air Force (USAF) is one of the most impressive due to its enormous dimensions.

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One of the largest military aircraft in the world

Since its maiden flight in 1968, the C-5 has become the largest military aircraft in the United States and one of the largest aircraft in the world, second only to the Antonov An-225 Mriya, destroyed by the Russians a year ago in Ukraine, and by the Antonov An-124 Ruslan. During all this time 131 C-5 Galaxy have been built, a figure that also makes it the most numerous giant aircraft (of its Soviet equivalent, the Antonov An-124, 56 units were built). Development of the C-5M Super Galaxy began in 2006, currently in service and equipped with new General Electric F138-GE-100 engines.

The C-5M has dimensions of 75.31 meters long, 19.84 meters high and a 67.89 meter wingspan. It is a huge plane, but despite its dimensions, it only needs 1,097 meters of runway to land and 1,646 meters to take off (it may seem like a lot, but an Airbus A-380-900 or a Boeing 747-8, the largest commercial aircraft in the world, needs 3,100 meters to take off). However, there is one aspect of its size that greatly influences its operability: maintenance tasks cannot be done on any random basis. They are generally held at the bases of their respective units. But there is always a first time for exceptions.

The impressive repair of a C-5M at the Rota Naval Base

One of the European military bases that usually host C-5M Super Galaxy flights is the Rota Naval Station, in Cádiz (Spain). In addition to being one of the most important bases of the Spanish Navy (and the only one used jointly with the United States Navy), Rota has an important air base with a 3,700-meter runway, which It is used by the Spanish Navy Aircraft Flotilla and by United States military forces. This includes frequent visits by C-5M and C-17 Globemaster III, which stop over at the Spanish base for flights to Central Europe and the Middle East.

Last Wednesday something happened in Rota with a C-5M Super Galaxy, 50002 (with construction number 500-0088 and serial number 85-0002). It is an aircraft built in 1986 and is part of the 709th Airlift Squadron, 512th Airlift Wing, based at Dover AFB (Delaware). The USAF has not communicated what happened, but the fact became known yesterday thanks to a series of photos taken by US Navy personnel and which have been published on the US Armed Forces multimedia portal

The images, which you can see next to these lines, show "Seabees" of the US Navy , belonging to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 based in Rota, collaborating in the repair of one of the rudders of the aforementioned C-5M along with personnel from the 436th Maintenance Squadron (MXS), based at Dover AFB. The "Seabees" (an expression meaning "Sea Bees" but which has its origins in the initials CB of the "Construction Battalions" of World War II) are the personnel of the US Navy in charge of the construction and maintenance of facilities and other military engineering tasks.

This is the first time this repair has been done outside of Dover AFB.

Photos released yesterday show Seabees and USAF personnel changing the lower rudder of the C-5M drift. The published information does not indicate what kind of problem this plane had, but it must have been something serious to bring that part from the United States, because according to the US Navy, it is the first time that this maintenance task has been done outside of Dover AFB.

To change this enormous part, a 40-ton Link-Belt Cat 1 crane from the US Navy Seabees was used, number 82-05705, assigned to NMCB-1 in Rota. When the US Navy assigned that crane to Rota, surely no one imagined that it would end up being used to get one of the USAF C-5Ms out of trouble.


Main photo U.S. Air Force. A file image of two C-5Ms at Travis AFB, California, giving us an idea of the size of these aircraft.

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