History and Development of the C-123 Provider
The C-123 Provider was a short-range assault transport used for airlifting troops and cargo to and from small, unprepared airstrips.
The rugged C-123 became an essential part of U.S. Air Force airlift during the Southeast Asia War, where it flew primarily as an in-theater airlifter and a Ranch Hand sprayer.
Designed by the Chase Aircraft Co. just after World War II, and built by Fairchild, the C-123 evolved from earlier large assault glider designs.
Fairchild C-123K Provider
The prototype XC-123, basically a glider powered by two piston engines, made its initial flight in 1949. A second prototype was built as the unpowered XG-20 glider.
Chase began manufacturing the C-123B in 1953, but the contract was transferred to Fairchild, which built about 300 C-123Bs.
Providers entered service with the USAF's 309th Troop Carrier Group (Assault) in 1955, and this unit conducted several practice combat landings with U.S. Army troops.
Between 1966 and 1969, 184 C-123Bs were converted to C-123Ks with the addition of two J85 jet engines. These jet engines increased the C-123's payload weight by a third, shortened its takeoff distance, improved its climb rate, and gave a much greater margin of safety should one of the piston engines fail.
Other C-123Bs and C-123Js supplied USAF sites in arctic regions from the late 1950s into the mid-1970s.
As the war in Southeast Asia wound down, the U.S. transferred some of its Providers to the South Vietnamese Air Force and the Royal Thai Air Force. The remaining USAF C-123s were transferred to the Air Force Reserve, which flew them into the mid-1980s. Other operators of the Provider included the U.S. Coast Guard, the Philippines, South Korea and Venezuela.
A total of 307 C-123 aircraft were built by Fairchild.
C-123 Provider Photographs by Airplanes of the Past
Fairchild C-123K Provider at Hill AFB in Ogden, Utah
USAF C-123 Photo
Fairchild C-123B Providers in flight
Historic Image of the C-123 Provider from the Airplanes Of The Past Collection
Chase Aircraft Corporation XC-123, S/N 7786, Buzz Number CZ-786, in flight