The "Provider" is a short-range assault transport used to airlift troops and cargo onto short runways and unprepared airstrips. Designed by the Chase Aircraft Co., the C-123 evolved from earlier designs for large assault gliders. The first prototype XC-123 made its initial flight on October 14, 1949, powered by two piston engines. The production version, with two piston engines, was designated the C-123B. Chase began manufacture in 1953, but the production contract was transferred to Fairchild. The first of more than 300 Fairchild-built C-123Bs entered service in July 1955. Between 1966 and 1969, 184 C-123Bs were converted to C-123Ks by adding two J85 jet engines for improved performance.
This aircraft entered service in 1957 as a C-123B. In 1961-72, it served in Vietnam--first as a UC-123B, then as a UC-123K--flying low-level defoliant and insecticide spray missions. During that time it received over 1,000 bullet and shrapnel hits. Its nickname, "Patches," derives from the metal patches that cover many of its battle scars. It is also decorated with seven Purple Hearts earned by crewmen wounded in the aircraft. (MMUSAF)
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