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McDonnell Douglas C-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. Navy and Marine Corps. The final flight of the C-9A Nightingale was in September 2005,[1] and the C-9C was retired in September 2011. The U.S. Navy retired its last C-9B in July 2014.[2] The two remaining C-9s in Marine service were retired in April 2017.[3]

C-9 Nightingale/Skytrain II
US Navy 030819-N-6501M-017 A C-9B Skytrain II from the Conquistadors of Fleet Logistics Squadron Fifty Seven (VR-57) flies over the Pacific Ocean.jpg
A C-9B Skytrain II of the US Navy
Role Jet transport
National origin United States
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas
Introduction 1968
Retired September 2005 (USAF C-9A);
July 2014 (USN C-9B);
April 2017 (USMC C-9B)
Status Retired
Primary users United States Air Force (historical)
United States Navy (historical)
United States Marine Corps (historical)
Kuwait Air Force (historical)
Number built 48
Developed from McDonnell Douglas DC-9

Design and developmentEdit

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] The U.S. Air Force received 21 C-9A aircraft from 1968 to 1969.[5] The C-9As were used for medical evacuation, passenger transportation, and special missions from 1968 to 2005. The C-9A were named for English social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820–1910), the founder of modern nursing.[6]

After selecting a modified DC-9 for passenger and cargo transport, the U.S. Navy ordered its first five C-9Bs, bureau numbers 159030 thru 159034[7] in April 1972.[4] However, since the Air Force in the early 1970s, under the Military Airlift Command, was responsible for moving military personnel from place to place this order was canceled.[citation needed]

The Navy documented to Congress that their people were being given last seating on Air Force flights.[citation needed] Congress authorized the Navy to fly its own passenger/cargo jets shortly thereafter. The Navy ordered eight aircraft, bureau numbers 159113 thru 159120. The first four went to VR-30 at NAS Alameda in California for west coast logistical support while the second four went to VR-1 at Norfolk in Virginia for east coast support. An additional six aircraft, bureau numbers 160046 through 160051[8] were delivered to the Navy and the Marine Corp in 1976 with the first two aircraft being delivered to the Marine Corp at MCAS Cherry Point, the second two delivered to VR-1 at NAS Norfolk and the last two delivered to VR-30 at NAS Alameda. An additional ten more new and ten used DC-9s were purchased and converted to C-9B for the Navy. The last C-9B to fly for the Navy was retired on 28 June 2014.[9]

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 World War II era C-47 developed from the civilian DC-3.) A C-9B was also chosen by NASA for reduced gravity research,[10] replacing the aging KC-135 Vomit Comet.[citation needed]

Many of the Navy's C-9Bs had a higher maximum gross take-off weight of 110,000 lb (50,000 kg). Auxiliary fuel tanks were 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 the addition of tail mounted infrared scramblers to counter heat seeking missile threats in hostile environments.[citation needed]

A C-9B Skytrain II offloading on the ramp at Naval Air Station Brunswick.

The C-9B squadron (VR) were located throughout the continental U.S., with detachments operated in Europe, and Asia.[11]


  • C-9A Nightingale - 21 aeromedical evacuation aircraft based on the DC-9-32CF for U.S. Air Force delivered during 1968–69.[5] One was converted for executive transport and stationed at Chievres, Belgium; a second aircraft was converted for VIP transport by the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base.[citation needed]
  • C-9B Skytrain II - 24 convertible passenger/transport versions of the DC-9-32CF for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps delivered from 1973 to 1976. Five more C-9s were converted from passenger configured DC-9s.[12]
  • VC-9C - 3 executive transport aircraft for the U.S. Air Force; these were delivered in 1976[12] and served until 2011.[citation needed]
  • C-9K - 2 aircraft for the Kuwait Air Force.[12]


A US Air Force McDonnell Douglas VC-9C (DC-9-32), used often as Air Force Two or to transport first ladies

  United States[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

United States Air Force


75th Airlift Squadron
2d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1993-1994
86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2003
55th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron
2d Aeromedical Evacuation Group
20th Operations Squadron 1974-1975
20th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron 1975-1989
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
20th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1989-1993
30th Airlift Squadron 1993-2004
9th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1989-1994
374th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2004
11th Aeromedical Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron
57th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1973-1994
375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2003
  • 405th Tactical Fighter Wing - Clark AB, Philippines 1972-1974
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 1972-1994
932d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron 1994-2005


76th Airlift Squadron
58th Military Airlift Squadron (Chievres Air Base, Belgium)


1st Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1977-1988
98th Military Airlift Squadron 1975-77
99th Military Airlift Squadron/Airlift Squadron 1988-2005
73d Airlift Squadron

United States Navy


Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas 2009-2012
McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey 2011-2012
Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia 2006-2011
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas 1998-2000

United States Marine Corps


VMR-1 1997-2017

NASAJohnson Space Center 2003-2014[28]

Specifications (C-9B)Edit

The cockpit of a C-9B Skytrain

Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power[4]

General characteristics


Aircraft on displayEdit

  • 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.[29]
  • C-9A (AF serial number 71-0877) is on display at Scott AFB, Illinois
  • C-9A (AF serial number 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
  • VC-9C (AF serial number 73-1681) is on display at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California and was used by Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton[30]
  • VC-9C (AF serial number 73-1683) is on display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon
  • C-9B (Navy 163511), last operated by VR-46 in Marietta, GA, is on display at Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Historic C-9 heads to Andrews for retirement". US Air Force, 24 September 2005.
  2. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "The US Navy Finally Retires The C-9B Skytrain II After 41 Years".
  3. ^
  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. ^ a b Birtles, Philip. Douglas DC-9, pp. 109, 116–120, Airlife Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84037-318-0.
  6. ^ McEntee, Marni (August 5, 2003). "Air Force retiring Nightingale fleet". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  7. ^ "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos--Third Series (156170 to 160006)". Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  8. ^ "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos--Third Series (160007 to 163049)". Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  9. ^ "Navy says farewell to the C-9 Skytrain II aircraft". Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  10. ^ The History of C-9B Reduced Gravity Research Program Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine. NASA/JSC, March 25, 2008
  11. ^ C-9 Skytrain fact file. US Navy, 15 April 2005.
  12. ^ a b c 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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  29. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-02-26. Retrieved 2015-08-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Drummer, Janene L. and Wilcoxson, Kathryn A. "Chronological History of the C-9A Nightingale." March 2001. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  30. ^ "Tour Air Force One". Retrieved 2017-11-24.

External linksEdit