Profile by Amn Mamoshadi Ledwaba and Amn Mamogobo Mamabolo; Corp Com, AFB Swartkop

The Transall C-160 was a medium-haul all-weather military transport designed and built by two European nations namely, France and Germany. The aircraft was designed with the aim of replacing the Nord Noratlas – an aircraft which was employed for fleet transport in France and Germany.

The prototype Transall’s construction was initiated in 1960 and was shared among the main aircraft companies known as Hamburger Flugzeugbau, Nord Aviation and Weser Flugzeugbau. It was powered by two British Rolls-Royce Tyne turboprop engines On 25 February 1963 the first Transall was flown at the Nord plant in France.

Amn Mamoshadi Ledwaba and Amn Mamogobo Mamabolo]In the late 1960s the South African Air Force ordered nine C-160Zs which were assembled at the Nord plant and the first SAAF example test-flew in January 1969 with its first delivery being in August 1969, being placed at 28 Squadron at Air Force Base Waterkloof. During this period SAAF squadron crews were also sent for conversion training in France.

[Photo left: Amn Mamoshadi Ledwaba and Amn Mamogobo Mamabolo]

A versatile machine and transport aircraft, it saw operational service for the first time in Ops Savannah in 1975/76 and since then carried cargo (dropping of cargo from low to extremely low heights), transportation of personnel, dropping of paratroopers and transportation of wounded personnel.

With its large internal capacity which permitted payloads of bulkier cargo than the C-130 Hercules, the SAAF employed it to assist Mozambique after the Danish freighter “Pep Ice” ran aground on the Bassas da India reef in the Mozambique Channel. During this operation one of three used was used to carry a partly dismantled Puma helicopter from Air Force Base Waterkloof to Europa Island.

In November 1987, an SAA Boeing 747 crashed in the sea near Mauritius, the SAAF sent Transall aircraft with two Puma helicopters to assist with finding any sign of the159 passengers and crew members who had lost their lives during the crash.

The Transall C-160 in its delivery colour schemeOn 4 August 1991, three Dakota MPAs, a C-130 and a C-160 were dispatched to the Transkei coast to assist with the rescue of 219 passengers on board the passenger ship “Oceanos”.

28 Squadron used both the C-160 Hercules and the Transall C-160 but in January 1993, the C-160 was phased out due to budget constraints and high short-term refurbishment costs. The Hercules remains in service and continues to deliver excellent service. 

[Photo right: The Transall C-160 in its delivery colour scheme ]

Eight of the aircraft were eventually scrapped and the SAAF Museum at AFB Swartkop now has the sole remaining example (no. 337) and is on public display.

In some cases, they are permitted to enter the aircraft on special request and with authorization. The aircraft arrived at the SAAF Museum on 16 May 1993 after having flown 7262 hours and having made a total number of 6704 landings.

The main cabin can be fitted to carry 90 troops or up to 64 fully equipped paratroops. For medical evacuation, the cabin can accommodate 62 stretcher patients. In the cargo transporter role, the aircraft can carry a maximum payload of 16,000kg, including armoured vehicles, tanks and palletised or unpalletised loads. The floor is fitted with lashing points rated at 5,000kg on a 20in grid pattern. Lashing points rated at 12,000kg are fitted in the side walls of the cabin.

The Transall C-160 in its operational colour schemeThe cockpit accommodates four crew: the pilot and co-pilot, flight engineer, and navigator. A loadmaster may also form part of the crew. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Tyne R.Ty.20 MK22 turboprop engines, each rated at 4,550kW. The engines drive four-blade, reversible-pitch, constant-speed BAe 4/8000/6 propellers, built by Ratier Figeac in France.

[Photo left: The Transall C-160 in its operational colour scheme]

The C-160 has a maximum level speed of 536km/h at 4500m, a maximum cruising speed of 513km/h at 5,500m and a maximum cruising speed of 492km/h at 8,000m with a loaded weight of 42,500kg. It has a rate of climb of 440m/min at sea level at maximum take-off weight and a ceiling of 8,500m at a loaded weight of 45,000kg. It has a range of 4,558km with a payload weight of 8,000kg and 10% fuel reserve with allowance for 30 minutes at 4,000m and a range of 1,175km with a payload of 16,000kg.