Although the AC-47D (Gunship I) was successfully used as a gunship, the Air Force needed a larger aircraft capable of carrying a greater weapons load. Two cargo aircraft were evaluated under programs Gunship II and Gunship III. The Lockheed C-130A was evaluated in the Gunship II program and the Fairchild C-119 was tested in the Gunship III program. Because of the urgent need for gunships in Vietnam, the USAF decided to create two models of the AC-119. The first, designated AC-119G, involved a relatively easy and quick conversion from a C-119G cargo/transport aircraft. Twenty-six aircraft were modified between May and October 1968. Four SUU-11 7.62mm "miniguns" were installed in the aft left side of the cargo compartment. A maximum of 50,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition could be carried for day missions and 35,000 rounds for night missions. Like the AC-47D, the pilot fired the guns and the left side window of the cockpit had a gunsight mounted. A LAU-74/A flare launcher was installed and the aircraft carried between 24 and 60 flares for night missions.
The first AC-119G Shadow operational sortie was flown on Jan. 5, 1969, and from that time until March 8, 1969, the aircraft was in a combat evaluation phase. During this evaluation, primary emphasis was given to close air support for troops in contact, but the aircraft also flew armed reconnaissance and interdiction, as well as forward air controller missions. By Feb. 7, 1969, the full complement of AC-119G aircraft had arrived in the Republic of Vietnam and were initially located at Tan Son Nhut, Phan Rang and Nha Tang Air Bases. The aircraft were assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron of the 14th Special Operations Wing and under the operational control of Headquarters 7th Air Force. The aircraft performed all of its missions in a satisfactory manner. The Shadow gunship operated in much the same manner as the AC-47, although the AC-119G Night Observation Device and illuminator gave the aircraft an increased capability over the Spooky gunship.
Gunship version of C-119
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Four SUU-11A 7.62mm miniguns with 50,000 rounds of ammunition for daytime missions; 35,000 rounds and 60 MK 24 flares (maximum) for night missions. Later, the SUU-11As were replaced by General Electric MXU-470/A gun modules. The AC-119G was equipped with a computerized fire control system with fully auto, semi-auto, manual and offset firing capabilities. The Shadow also has a 1.5 million candlepower illuminator with a variable beam. Engines: Two Wright R-3350s of 3,500 hp each Combat speed: 130 knots Cruising speed: 180 knots Duration: Approx. 6 hours (plus 30 minutes reserve) Attack altitude: Approx. 3,500 ft. above ground level Span: 109 ft. 3 1/4 in. Length: 86 ft. 5 3/4 in. Height: 26 ft. 7 3/4 in. Weight: 62,000 lbs. maximum
Crew: (Day) six; (Night) eight (pilot, copilot, navigator, night observation sight operator, flight engineer, illuminator operator, two gunners) Serial numbers: 52-5898, 52-5905, 52-5907, 52-5925, 52-5927, 52-5938, 52-5942, 53-3136, 53-3136, 53-3145, 53-3170, 53-3178, 53-3189, 53-3192, 53-3205, 53-7833, 53-7848, 53-7851, 53-7852, 53-8069, 53-8089, 53-8114, 53-8115, 53-8123, 53-8131, 53-8155