The C-5A and C-5B Galaxies Sing You the Song of Their People
The Lockheed C-5A Galaxy strategic airlifter was powered by four of the most unique jet engines ever produced. The General Electric TF39 high-bypass turbofan was the first of its kind and developed specifically for the C-5A and was never used to power any other aircraft. The TF39 was developed into the GE CF6 series of engines which powered the majority of first-generation widebody jetliners and the GE LM-2500 industrial and marine turbine engine that has powered more than 50 classes of Navy ships around the world. But the TF39 is forever linked to the Galaxy.
The last TF39-powered Galaxy engines made its final flight to the AMARG Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) for retirement on 7 September 2017. All C-5M Super Galaxies now in service are powered by GE F138-GE-100 engines- a development of the CF6, which was developed from the TF39. The new powerplants produce 22% more thrust than the TF39s did, which equates to a 30% shorter takeoff roll, a 38% better climb rate, and greater payload with longer range for the C-5Ms they power. All good, but ask anyone who ever heard a C5A, C-5B, or one of the two C-5Cs fly over and they’ll tell you they miss the singularly unique Fine Whine of the TF39.
Turn it up!
Enjoy this series of C-5A and C-5B ops uploaded to YouTube by gags5503. The first is a flight deck view out the starboard side windows at the two TF39s on the starboard wing during a heavily loaded takeoff on a hot/high day (aren’t they all?) out of Afghanistan. The engines were set at 99.8% of N1.
Touch and Go
This video is of a similar viewpoint shot during a touch-and-go on runway 33 at Westover Air Reserve Base (ARB) with subsequent climb to 3,000 feet during crew training. The high power setting for this clip was “only” 91.1% of N1. Those big fans spool up to power pretty fast!
Touch and GO!
Here’s another C-5A touch-and-go on runway 23 at Westover ARB in some typically murky New England weather. That TF39 whine is in full song!
From the Flight Deck
A C-5A standing takeoff as experienced on the flight deck. Power setting was 98.0% of N1. FRED rumbling down the runway at full screaming whine!
To the Boneyard
When this clip was shot in March of 2017 the crew was flying one of only five TF39-powered FREDs left in service to the Boneyard at AMARG. The aircraft had amassed some 25,493 flight hours since entering service in 1970. Thrust reversers in action!
From the Runway
We wouldn’t be letting the Galaxy sing the song of her people for you without that fine TF39 whine heard from the ground. We found a great video compendium of TF39-powered FREDs taking off, landing, and in general making sounds like nothing else in a variety of locations and conditions- many of them shot on runways 21 or 03 at Gander International in Newfoundland. This video was uploaded to YouTube by 235FireFly. Enjoy!