Convair C-131D Samaritan
Twin-engine low-wing tricycle-gear military transport, U.S.A.

Archive Photos 1

1955 Convair C-131D "Samaritan" (AF 55-0301, c/n 329) at the USAF Museum, WPAFB, Dayton, OH (Photos by John Shupek)

1954 Convair C-131D "Samaritan" (AF 54-2808) at the March Field Aviation Museum, Riverside, CA (Photos by John Shupek)

1955 Convair C-131D "Samaritan" (AF 55-0300) at the Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill AFB, Salt Lake City, UT (Photos by John Shupek)

Overview 2

The Convair C-131 Samaritan was an American Twin-engine military transport produced from 1954 to 1956 by Convair. It was the military version of the Convair CV-240 family of airliners.

Design and Development 2

The design began life in a production requirement by American Airlines for a pressurized airliner to replace the classic Douglas DC-3. Convair’s original design had two engines and 40 seats, and thus it was designated the CV-240. The first CV-240 flew on March 16, 1947, and production aircraft were first delivered to American on February 28, 1948. Seventy-five were delivered to American, with another fifty going to Western Airlines, Continental Airlines, Pan American Airways, KLM, Sabena, Swissair and Trans Australia Airlines.

Operational History 2

The CV-240/340/440 series was used by the United States Air Force (USAF) for medical evacuation and VIP transport and was designated as C-131 Samaritan. The first model Samaritan, the C-131A, was derived from the CV-240 model, and was delivered to the USAF in 1954.

The earlier trainer model, designated the T-29, was also based on the Convair 240 and was used to instruct USAF navigators for all USAF aircraft and those USN Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) selected to fly land-based naval aircraft. First deliveries to the USAF were made in 1950 followed by large production quantities until early 1955. The USAF and the USN operated T-29s in separate units at separate locations until 1976. In 1974, the USAF T-29s with the 323d Flying Training Wing (323 FTW) at Mather AFB, California began to be replaced by the Boeing 737-derived T-43. In 1975, the Navy retired all of its T-29s assigned to Training Squadron Twenty-Nine (VT-29) at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, deactivated VT-29, and merged their advanced navigator training program for land-based NFOs with the Air Force’s program at Mather AFB.

A planned bomber training version of the T-29 (designated T-32) was never built. The CV-340 model was used for most C-131Ds.

In addition to T-29 variants, the United States Navy used the Samaritan, initially designated as the R4Y until 1962, at which point the naval aircraft were also redesignated as C-131s.

Nearly all of the C-131s left the active USAF inventory in the late 1970s, but the U.S. Coast Guard operated the aircraft until 1983, while the Air National Guard and U.S. Navy units operated additional C-131 airframes, primarily as Operational Support Aircraft (OSA) for Air National Guard flying wings and as naval air station "station aircraft" until 1990. The C-131 was primarily replaced by the C-9 Nightingale in regular USAF service, with the Air National Guard replacing their OSA with C-130 Hercules aircraft and the Navy with C-12 Hurons.

In 1959, a C-131 was the first aircraft to be used as a reduced-gravity aircraft or ’vomit comet’, for astronaut training as part of Project Mercury.

A Samaritan was the first aircraft used as a flying gunship testbed in mid-1963, in a program known as "Project Tailchaser". A C-131B (AF s/n 53-7820) was given a gunsight for the side window, but instead of guns it had cameras in the cargo area. Eventually the C-131 was ferried to Eglin AFB in Florida and a General Electric SUU-11A/A 7.62 mm Gatling-style Minigun was installed. Live ammunition was used and both over-water and overland tests were successful.

Variants 2

Operators 2

Convair C-131B Specifications 2

General Characteristics



  1. Shupek, John. The Skytamer Photo Archive, photos by John Shupek, copyright © 1998, 2001, 2002 Skytamer Images (
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Convair C-131 Samaritan


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