The Curtiss-Wright Company's C-134 Alligator is the principle medium-range general purpose transport aircraft of the U.S. Military. Developed as a replacement for the largely unsuccessful Fairchild C-123 Provider, the C-134 was borne out of the B-34 Razorback (hence the out of sequence numerical designation]. An unorthodox design, the C-134 is a trimotor aircraft - that is, it has three engines: one in the nose plus one on each wing. It also has wing tip-mounted rocket motors to assist in takeoff, giving it a higher allowable weight limit. 


Trimotor Aircraft first became common in the 1930s as engine development temporarily stagnated and their power output became insufficient to fufill design requirements. Mounting a third engine in the nose was a way of solving this problem while still retaining a medium-sized airframe like that of a twin-engine plane. The creators of the Alligator had the same solution in mind when they developed it; large radial engines like the Pratt & Whittney Wasp Major had sufficient performance but were unsuitable for medium-sized designs like the Alligator, while even the newly-developed compound engines of the B-34 Razorback were significantly less powerful. The solution, then, was simply to add another engine, recalling older long-outdated designs like the Junkers Ju 52. The result was a transport aircraft designed from the outset as a military transport, not a conversion of civilian planes as had been common in the 1940s.

The C-134 is extremely powerful for its size, allowing significant leeway with weight restrictions. As such, unlike most cargo planes, it is armed and can defend itself; it is also quite a bit faster than most of its contemporaries, even when heavily loaded. In a broad sense, it resembles its cousin, the B-34 Razorback, with the same wide slightly forward-swept wings, but its fuselage is much fatter and its appearance in general is bulkier. It also, of course, lacks the glazed nose cockpit of the B-34, since there is a third engine placed inside its fuselage - necessitating a more old-fashioned "stepped" arrangement reminiscent of the B-17. Like the B-34, it has twin tails, making ample room for a tail gun position (which is manned, to cut down on production costs), and it is also fitted with remotely operated dual 12.7mm HMG turrets in dorsal and ventral positions.

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