The AC-130A Spectre is a C-130 converted to a gunship, primarily for night attacks against ground targets. To enhance its armament's effectiveness, it used various sensors, a target acquisition system, and infrared and low-light television systems. The versatile C-130 Hercules, originally designed in the 1950s as an assault transport, was adapted for a variety of missions, including weather mapping and reconnaissance, mid-air space capsule recovery, search and rescue, ambulance service, drone launching, mid-air refueling of helicopters, and as a gunship. The C-130 could transport up to 92 combat troops and their gear or 45,000 pounds of cargo. Where facilities were inadequate, the Hercules could deliver cargo by parachute or by a using a low-altitude parachute extraction system without landing.
The crew of this AC-130A Spectre gunship, named Azrael (Azrael, in the Koran, is the angel of death who severs the soul from the body) displayed courage and heroism during the closing hours of Operation Desert Storm. On Feb. 26, 1991, Coalition ground forces were driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. Azrael was sent to the Al Jahra highway between Kuwait City and Basrah, Iraq, to intercept the convoys of tanks, trucks, buses and cars fleeing the battle. Facing numerous enemy batteries of SA-6 and SA-8 surface-to-air missiles, and 37mm and 57mm radar-guided anti-aircraft artillery, the crew attacked the enemy skillfully, inflicting significant damage on the convoys. The crew's heroic efforts left much of the enemy's equipment destroyed or unserviceable, contributing to the defeat of the Iraqi forces. On Feb. 28, 1991, Iraq agreed to a cease-fire.
The aircraft on display was assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing and was retired to the museum in October 1995.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Two 7.62 miniguns, plus two 20mm and two 40mm cannon Maximum speed: 480 mph Range: 2,500 miles Span: 132 ft. 7 in. Length: 96 ft. 10 in. Weight: 124,200 lbs. maximum Serial number: 54-1630
General Electric AN/ASQ-145 Low Light Level Television Sensor System
The Low Light Level Television Sensor (LLLTV) installed on AC-130 gunships enabled the aircrew to illuminate targets covertly during night operations. Located just in front of the 20mm guns, the LLLTV could amplify the existing light 60,000 times to produce television images as clearly as if it were noon. The crew used a laser, which was invisible to the naked eye but showed up clearly on the LLLTV, to aim the AC-130's guns with great accuracy.