Douglas C-124 Globemaster II “Old Shaky”

A few days ago I saw the tweet below that reminded of an anecdote that I wanted to blog about since some time ago.

Last year, when we visited the Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the aircraft at the outdoors exhibit was the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II “Old Shaky”. Our guide during the tram tour, an US armed forces veteran, explained how the aircraft had a crawlway to access and service the engines in-flight!

Once the tram tour concluded, I went for a walk around the aircraft to inspect it.

As you can see the aircraft have the inner engines located at the same wing cross-section than the main landing gear. And since the landing gear doors were opened I checked and found a small hole which I deduce that leads to the crawlway by which the flight engineer had to access to the engines. Not a very comfortable passage indeed.

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See below a comment I found in a specialized forum on the use of this crawlway by veteran in the 1950s (Barry de Vries):

Flew “Old Shakey” out of TCM (McChord) from the spring of ’55 until July of ’57 after 4 or 5 months on the C-54. On my first trip as a C-124 A/C we had #4 engine generator overheat light come on just past the PSR between Travis and Hickam. That required an engine shutdown due to the proximity of the generator to the carburetor. The F/E crawled out through the wing and verified that the generator was hot, returned to the flight deck for about 20 minutes while it cooled down and then went back out there to remove it and put a pad over the hole. Sometimes, we had a spare generator in the “fly-away” kit but we did not on that day. After he returned to the flight deck, we fired up #4 again and proceeded, without further incident, to Hickam. In later years, jet engines had CSDs (Constant Speed Drives) which would disconnect the generator with the flick of a switch. Those 124 days were interesting to say the least………. wouldn’t trade them for anything.

On the other hand, after sharing this anecdote with some work colleagues they noted that in earlier times of aviation the accessing to the engines during flight for inspection or servicing was rather common.

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