Sheep in Wolves Clothing? Part #1

Normally used as Air Force 1, this VC-25A is based upon the B-747-200 series airliner.

Throughout aviation history, there are many examples of civilian aircraft being adapted for military use. On the other hand, there are many situations where a military aircraft design has seen civilian success too. Here are a number of airframes that have been used by military branches and civilian operators, many times performing the same duties and functions.

Especially during the early years of World War II, civilian designs and already-built aircraft were pressed into military service. As time went on, more specialized designs were produced for military use, due to performance needs (speed, range and ruggedness are just three reasons for specialization). Although this not at all definitive collection focuses on turbojet and helicopter airframes, this first of two collections will center on pure jet-powered aircraft. Watch for our other collection of sheep in wolf’s clothing in a few weeks, when we’ll present propeller-driven designs.

A C-137 is the military counterpart of the Boeing 707
The Vickers VC-10 served as both military and civilian jet transports, this military version could refuel aircraft too.
This Turkish Air Force E-7 utilizes a 737 transport’s airframe components
Lockheed’s L-1011 was a heavy commercial airliner, it carried military cargo, personnel and could refuel other aircraft too.
The Air Force’s T-1A Jayhawk is based on the Beech 400A Beechjet (which was originally the Mitsubishi 300 Diamond design).
The Piaggio PD-808 was originally a joint venture between Italian designer Piaggio and the U.S.’s Douglas Company, which never took off. This is one of a few airframes completed, and delivered to the Italian Air Force serving as an ECM platform.
This NT-39A is the Air Force’s counterpart tot he N265 Saberliner corporate jet.
The U.K.’s Nimrod anti-submarine and patrol jet is based upon the Comet jetliner’s fuselage and wing design.
The U.S. Coast Guard used this MH-68 Stingray as an anti-drug running helicopter, it’s civilian counterpart is the Augusta 109.
The OH/AH-6 is used by the U.S. Army’s Special Operations units, and is based upon the Hughes 500 light turbine helicopter.
NASA utilized this Lockheed Jetstar as an airborne testbed. The U.S. Air Force used their VC-140 transports in a similar way that the civilian sector used their L-1329 Jetstars as a high speed corporate jet.
The new Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tanker/transport is based on parts of the 767 airliner.
This KC-30A is a modified Airbus A-330 jetliner, used as a tanker/transport.
The U.S. Coast Guard used this HU-25 Guardian as a patrol aircraft, it is based upon the Falcon 20 corporate jet.
This Gulfstream G-2B HALO II is modified for the U. S. Missile Defense Agency.
The Bell TH-57 is an adaptation of the civilian Bell 206 Jet Ranger.
The UC-35 is a Cessna Citation version in use by the U.S. Marines and Army.
The DC-10-10 WASP is another civilian transport used by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
The Royal Canadian Air Force used multiple versions of the Canadiar Challenger civilian jet.
The CC-150 Polaris is basically an A-310 airframe originally operated by Canadian airline Wardair. There are 5 of these Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) versions, two of which can air refuel fighters too.
The Boeing C-40 is based upon the B-737-700 airliner, this Navy version can carry cargo and personnel, Air Force versions are used as staff transports.
The C-38A is a military executive transport version of the IA Astra.
The C-37 is a VIP staff transport based upon the Gulfstream V jet.
The four Boeing C-32As are VIP transports, sometimes used as Air Force 1. A handful of others others are known as C-32Bs, which act as command and communications aircraft.
The Boeing C-22 was a staff transport version of the early B-727-100 series jetliner.
The C-21A is a version of the Lear 35 corporate jet.
The Douglas C-9 was a militarized DC-9-30 jetliner… the C-9 was used for medivac duties, cargo and passenger service, and as a VIP transport.
This is a BAe 146 CC2, a Royal Air Force VIP transport used by the Queen’s Flight… based upon the civilian BAe-146 airliner.
This BAe/Hawker 125 jet is another of the Queen’s Flight VIP jets, and is a version of the widely-used HS-125.
The Bell 412 helicopter is utilized by numerous military air arms, this is a Netherlands Air Force search and rescue airframe.
The UH-72A is a militarized version of the EC-145 helicopter.
The MH-65 is used for search and rescue; the AS-365 is a civilian corporate transport.

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Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 32 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site, and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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