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McDonnell Douglas C-9

C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain II
A C-9A Nightingale used for Aeromedical Evacuation
Role Jet transport
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Introduction 1968
Retired September 2005 (USAF C-9A)
Status Operational (USMC and NASA); retired (USAF and USN)
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] and the C-40 Clipper is replacing the Navy Reserve's aging C-9B fleet.[2][3]


  • Design and development 1
  • Variants 2
  • Operators 3
  • Specifications (C-9B) 4
  • Aircraft on display 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Design and development

In 1966, the U.S. Air Force identified a need for an aeromedical transport aircraft and ordered C-9A Nightingale aircraft the following year. Deliveries began in 1968,[4] and the C-9As were used for medical evacuation, passenger transportation, and special missions from 1968 to 2005. The C-9A aircraft were named for English social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), the founder of modern nursing.[5]

A US Air Force 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. (The original "Skytrain" was the famous C-47 of the World War II era, developed from the civilian DC-3.) A C-9B was also chosen by NASA for reduced gravity research,[6] replacing the aging KC-135 Vomit Comet.

Many of the Navy's C-9Bs have a higher maximum gross take-off weight of 114,000 lb (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 (4,800 km) for overseas missions along with tail mounted infra-red 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.[7]


  • C-9A Nightingale - 23 aeromedical evacuation aircraft for the United States Air Force received from 1968.[8]
  • 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.[8]
  • VC-9C - 3 executive transport aircraft for the United States Air Force.[8] The three aircraft were delivered to the US Air Force in late 1976.
  • C-9K - 2 aircraft for the Kuwait Air Force.[8]


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
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
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 - Georgia 1985-2009
NAS/JRB Fort Worth, Texas 2009-12
McGuire AFB, New Jersey 2011-12
NAS Oceana, Virginia 1999-2011
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)

Specifications (C-9B)

The cockpit of a C-9B Skytrain

Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power[4]

General characteristics


Aircraft on display

  • C-9A (AF serial number 67-22584) is the first C-9A accepted for the Military Airlift Command, and was additionally the first American jet aircraft specifically designed for medical evacuation. It is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.[9]
  • C-9A (AF serial number 71-0877) is on display at Scott AFB, Illinois
  • C-9A (AF serial numbr 71-0878) is on display in front of Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center at Lackland AFB, Texas
  • VC-9C (AF serial number 73-1682) is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB, Delaware

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. ^ McEntee, Marni (August 5, 2003). "Air Force retiring Nightingale fleet". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  6. ^ The History of C-9B Reduced Gravity Research Program. NASA/JSC, March 25, 2008
  7. ^ C-9 Skytrain fact file. US Navy, 15 April 2005.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ [2] Drummer, Janene L. and Wilcoxson, Kathryn A. "Chronological History of the C-9A Nightingale." March 2001. Retrieved July 9 2015.

External links

  • C-9 Skytrain fact file and C-9 history page on U.S. Navy site
  • C-9 Nightingale page and C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain pages on U.S. Air Force site
  • C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain
  • "Goodbye to an era",, Fall 2003
  • The Chronological History of the C-9A NightingaleAir Mobility Command:
  • Air Mobility Command Museum: C-9A/C Nightingale
  • AMARC Experience: McDonnell Douglas C-9A Nightingale
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