C-118 Liftmaster History

This Liftmaster was built in 1953 and was purchased by the Navy from McDonnell Douglas in a buy lot of about 60 C-118s. It was transferred to USAF to increase airlift capacity between USA and Korea during the Korean conflict under command of MATS (Military Air Transport Service). After that it was transferred back to the Navy. At this time most of the C-118s came back into service with the Navy in the Naval Air Reserve Capacity in the early 60s.  

Our C-118 served with just such a unit, VR-53 out of NAS Dallas, Texas from the 70s until July of 1980 when it was sent to MASDC (Military Aircraft Storage & Disposition Center) or more commonly known now as AMARC (Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Center, or the military Bone yard in Tucson, AZ). 

The plane was purchased by Sis-Q flying service in either 83 or 84 and flown to STS. It served as a parts plane and a storage locker until it was abandoned after Sis-Q went out of business.  Pacific Coast Air Museumpicked it up in 1999.

Work to bring it back began in March of 2011 and 12 years of neglect had served to push it further into decline. We knew it had to look a lot better at the air show so most of the work concentrated on getting the exterior to shine up a bit. We worked on the tail paint and the markings on the sides as well as cleaning up the nose, and pressure washed most of the plane to get ready.

Inside we removed years of stored airplane parts both for this type plane and others. We re-installed the cockpit gauges (which had been carefully removed and stored by a member who had noticed the plane had been broken into), and we began scraping paint inside and cleaning out the stored parts in the baggage compartment.

We setup 8 rows of Navy issue passenger seats, and managed to have a cockpit set up by show time which allowed many, many people to get their picture taken in the pilot seat of a big airplane.

We had lines of people going all throughout the plane, from the rear bathrooms to the pilot’s seat, most of the day, both days of the show. It really surprised me to see so many people who were interested in this big plane! 

C-118 Liftmaster Specifications


17 ft 6 in


105 ft 7 in


28 ft 8 in

Wing area

1,463 sq ft.

Empty weight

55,357 lbs

Maximum Takeoff Weight

107,000 lbs


Crew: three

Passengers: up to 60 combat troops, or up to 100 passengers depending upon configuration

Cargo: Approximately 24,000 lbs.

Cruising speed

315 mph

Service Ceiling

25,000 ft

Range w/maximum payload

3,005 miles

Range w/maximum Fuel

4,720 miles


Four, 2,500 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB17 Double Wasp Radial Piston Engines

Crew Chief

Jim Whitten

Country of origin




b/n or serial number



Long Range Transport


Pacific Coast Air Museum


There’s always something great going on at the Pacific Coast Air Museum. We have Open Cockpit weekends once a month,  special events throughout the year, and regular hot dog lunches. We host school field trips, special group tours, birthday parties, and family get-togethers, all among our collection of historic aircraft and educational exhibits.