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July 11, 2024

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is a colossal strategic airlift aircraft designed to transport oversized cargo and personnel across intercontinental distances. Meet 70-0451, a C-5A which served the USAF from 1972 to 2017. Read more about this flying giant and secure a tangible piece of history with Lockheed C-5 Galaxy PlaneTags

What is the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy?



The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy stands as an iconic symbol of strategic airlift capability, developed to meet the United States Air Force's (USAF) need for a massive transport aircraft capable of carrying oversized cargo and large numbers of troops over intercontinental distances. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the C-5 Galaxy first took flight in 1968 and entered service in 1970, quickly becoming renowned for its sheer size and payload capacity.

Physically imposing, the C-5 Galaxy boasts a distinctive high-wing design with four powerful turbofan engines mounted on pylons under the wings. Its immense dimensions include a wingspan of over 222 feet (67.89 meters) and a length of nearly 248 feet (75.53 meters), making it one of the largest military aircraft in the world. The aircraft's height reaches 65 feet (19.84 meters), emphasizing its colossal presence on runways and tarmacs.



The primary purpose of the C-5 Galaxy is strategic airlift, capable of transporting a diverse array of cargo ranging from military vehicles and helicopters to humanitarian aid and relief supplies. Its cargo hold measures 121 feet (36.88 meters) in length and 19 feet (5.79 meters) in width, offering unparalleled capacity for up to 270,000 pounds (122,470 kilograms) of cargo or a mix of personnel and equipment.

Highlights of the C-5 Galaxy's operational history include its pivotal role in military logistics during conflicts such as the Vietnam War, where it facilitated rapid deployment and supply missions. The aircraft's ability to carry outsized and bulky cargo has also been instrumental in humanitarian missions, providing critical relief in disaster-stricken areas worldwide.



Despite its size and early technical challenges, the C-5 Galaxy has undergone several upgrades and modernizations over the decades to enhance reliability, performance, and mission flexibility. It remains a cornerstone of the USAF's strategic airlift capability, embodying the capability to project force and deliver vital resources globally, ensuring its continued relevance in military operations and humanitarian efforts alike.

Development of the C-5 Galaxy

The development of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy marked a significant milestone in military aviation history, driven by the United States Air Force's (USAF) need for a strategic airlift capability capable of transporting massive payloads over intercontinental distances. Conceived in the 1960s as part of the Military Air Transport Service's (MATS) requirement for a high-capacity transport aircraft, the C-5 was developed by Lockheed Martin to exceed the capabilities of its predecessor, the C-141 Starlifter.




Designed to accommodate outsized cargo and provide rapid deployment capabilities, the C-5 Galaxy's development focused on achieving unprecedented payload capacity and operational range. With its distinctive high-wing design and four powerful turbofan engines, the C-5 was not only engineered for logistical support but also became a symbol of American military might and global reach. Its introduction in 1970 represented a leap forward in airlift technology, setting new standards for airlift efficiency and versatility that have since cemented its role as a cornerstone of the USAF's strategic airlift capability.

Operational History of the C-5


C-5 flickr photo by Cory Barnes shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license


The operational history of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy spans over five decades, marked by its crucial role in military and humanitarian missions worldwide. Since its introduction in 1970, the C-5 Galaxy has been a cornerstone of the United States Air Force's (USAF) strategic airlift capability, capable of transporting massive payloads and equipment to remote locations with unparalleled efficiency. Here are some major milestones in its operational history, found in the Air Military Command’s The Chronological History of the C-5 Galaxy :

  • 1970: The C-5 Galaxy enters service with the USAF, revolutionizing strategic airlift capabilities with its massive cargo capacity and long-range capabilities.
  • 1973: During Operation Nickel Grass, C-5s play a vital role in airlifting military supplies to Israel during the Yom Kippur War, showcasing their rapid deployment capabilities under combat conditions.
  • 1989: The C-5 undergoes a modernization program to enhance reliability and performance, extending its service life and operational effectiveness.
  • 1990s: Throughout the Gulf War and subsequent military operations, C-5 Galaxies provide critical logistics support, delivering supplies and equipment to combat zones.
  • 2005: The C-5M Super Galaxy variant, featuring modernized engines and avionics, begins entering service, further enhancing the aircraft's operational efficiency and capabilities.
  • 2017: C-5s continue to play a crucial role in humanitarian missions, including disaster relief efforts and transportation of aid supplies to regions affected by natural disasters.


The C-5 Galaxy's operational history underscores its indispensable role in military logistics and humanitarian operations, solidifying its reputation as one of the world's largest and most versatile military transport aircraft.

C-5A Galaxy At A Glance

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, revered as the United States Air Force's largest cargo aircraft, carries a nickname affectionately known as FRED, which stands for "F*cking Ridiculous Economic/Environmental Disaster." This moniker, coined by the dedicated personnel who maintain the USAF's fleet, humorously reflects the immense size, complexity, and occasionally challenging maintenance of the C-5 Galaxy. Check out the specifications for this massive aircraft.


C-5A Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin
  • Model: C-5A Galaxy
  • S/N: 70-0451
  • Crew: 7 (Pilot, Co-Pilot 2x Flight Engineers, 3x Loadmasters)
  • Payload: Vehicles and outsize loads up to 264,440 lbs in main freight compartment; plus 73 passengers or fully equipped combat troops in upper rear passenger compartment
  • Wing span: 222 ft 9 in
  • Length: 247 ft 10 in
  • Height: 65 ft 1 in


C-5A Performance

  • Range: 5,524 mi, Unlimited w/inflight refueling
  • Cruise speed: 540 mph
  • Ceiling: 34,000 ft
  • Empty weight: 375,000 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 840,000 lb
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min
  • Engine: 4x General Electric TF39-GE-1C Turbofans






Our aircraft, serial number 70-0451, was originally constructed as a C-5A, marking the inaugural variant of the C-5 series. It was the 65th aircraft completed out of a total of 81 C-5As produced, entering service and being delivered to Charleston Air Force Base in 1972. The following year, it was transferred to the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, where it remained stationed until 1992. Subsequently, 70-0451 served with the 433rd Airlift Wing at Kelly Field Annex, Texas.

Throughout its distinguished career, 70-0451 participated in numerous significant missions, including Operation Nickel Grass in Israel and providing essential research support in Antarctica. Its final flight took place on July 26, 2017, landing at Travis Air Force Base before being retired with a total of 24,656.9 flight hours, 19,441 total landings, and 6,082 full-stop landings.

In 2024, MotoArt, in collaboration with Travis Air Force Base, undertook the preservation of this historic C-5A, transforming it into PlaneTags, commemorating its service and legacy.

Operation Nickel Grass


By USAF (In: "Remember when ... Operation Nickel Grass" by John Lacomia, 60th Air Mobility Wing History Office, posted 31 October 2008) - This image was released by the USAF with the ID AFG-081031-005 (next). Public Domain, Link


Operation Nickel Grass was a pivotal airlift operation conducted by the United States Air Force (USAF) during the Yom Kippur War in October 1973. In response to Israeli requests for urgent military assistance against Arab coalition forces, the USAF launched Operation Nickel Grass to deliver vital supplies, including ammunition, tanks, and aircraft, to Israel. The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy played a crucial role in this operation due to its immense cargo capacity and long-range capabilities, enabling it to transport large quantities of military equipment quickly and efficiently from the United States to Israeli airbases. This operation underscored the C-5 Galaxy's capability as a strategic airlifter and highlighted its importance in providing rapid military support during times of international crisis.

By USAF, C-5A arriving at Lod International Airport, Tel Aviv during Operation Nickel Grass

MotoArt Finds A C-5



MotoArt PlaneTags owner Dave Hall expressed deep honor in collaborating with Travis Air Force Base to unveil the Lockheed C-5A Galaxy PlaneTags to the public.











The MotoArt team meticulously removed sections of the skin from aircraft 70-0451 to create these unique PlaneTags, preserving a piece of aviation history for enthusiasts worldwide. While sections of the aircraft were repurposed, both the cockpit and rear ramp remain actively utilized for training purposes.






A portion of the proceeds from the C-5 Galaxy PlaneTags will be donated to the Travis Air Force Base Aviation Museum , which highlights and preserves the rich heritage of aviation at Travis AFB. The contributions will directly benefit the educational programs and exhibits that inspire future generations of aviators and enthusiasts. Together, MotoArt and Travis AFB are ensuring that the legacy of the C-5 Galaxy and its significance in military aviation continues to be celebrated and shared with the broader community.


Lockheed C-5 Galaxy PlaneTags



The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy PlaneTags are a limited edition of 10,000, available on beginning July 11, 2024.




Lockheed PlaneTags

MotoArt has crafted a stunning collection of Lockheed PlaneTags, featuring iconic aircraft that have left an indelible mark on aviation history. From the Delta Lockheed L-1011 and legendary Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird (now sold out), to the vintage charm of the C-121G Super Constellation and the enduring legacy of the C-130A Hercules (also sold out), each PlaneTag encapsulates the spirit and craftsmanship of these aviation legends. The collection also includes gems like the P2V-7LP Neptune , Lockheed N156F , and the historic Lockheed P-38G Lightning (sold out). For aviation enthusiasts and collectors alike, these PlaneTags are not just pieces of metal—they're pieces of aviation history. Don't miss out on adding the newest addition, the C-5 Galaxy PlaneTags, to your Lockheed collection today.