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Spectre and Spooky

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Well-known member
Nov 29, 2001
Saw the AC-130U referred to as "Spooky" on CNN today. I've always known the AC-130 as "Specter." I never worked with the "U" model though. Can any of you SOW guys tell me if the "U" model has its own nickname of "Spooky," or was it an error on CNN? By the way...in case nobody has told you lately, you guys do great work! Keep it up!
Although I am not a gunship pilot, CNN was probably not wrong for once. I fly in the Florida Panhandle (near Eglin and Hurlburt) and hear the call sign all the time. "Spooky" was the call sign for AC-47 Gunships during Vietnam. They were also known as "Puff", as in Puff the Magic Dragon. Either way, whether, "Puff" or the more official, "Spooky" those gunships did a wonderful, and often unrecognized service in Vietnam. Today's C-130 Spooky's are continuing the proud legacy and doing a kick-ass job for all of us. Not entirely sure, but perhaps AC-130 = Spectre and MC-130 = Spooky (??)
I am an AF type, at NAS Pensacola, instructing in T-34s. Previous C-141 guy for 5 years at McGuire AFB in Springsteen land. By no means am I an expert on gunships, but my Dad flew AC-47 Spooky's in Vietnam when I was busy being born and highly respect their role today and back when my old man flew them. Best of luck!
Well according to Boeing Lit (during the last carrier fair I scopped up any good lit with plane pics on the front) the AC-130U has the same nickname as it Vietnam counter-part the AC-47 which is Spooky. It also states that they are assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command 4th Special Operations Squadren based at Hubert Field, Florida. It also states that 13 had been converted from C-130H. The piece was copyrighted in 1997 so it might be a little old.

I believe the Spectre is the SOCOM bird with the TV equipment, and the low lvl SECOPs insertion equipment.

Trueblue: NAS Pensacola eh, my friend rents T-34s out of NAS Jax, quite intresting, lot of Floridians here, oh well its IFR/MVFR at Daytona, not bad in Lakeland (perfect soaring weather as long as the rain stays away), hows it up in the pan handle?
I flew the AC-130Hs and their callsign is "Spectre." The AC-130Us are "Spooky." There are several differences. The AC-130H are all 1969 models. Many of them served in Vietnam. Their current configuration has one 105mm and one 40mm cannon aft of the left wheel wells. The original twin 20mm cannons up front have been removed due to lack of parts (feeders) and for weight savings. This empty space also allows for more ammo. The H- model is also unpressurized. We used to fly across the Atlantic at 10,000 feet to avoid putting on our oxygen masks/helmets. The H-model has its TV/Laser/IR pointer mounted where a C-130's crew entrance door is (this big hole is one reason the aircraft is unpressurized). Crew configuration is also different. A pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, and fire control officer sit up in the cockpit of an H-model. Both have about the same defensive capabilities (the H slightly better) --won't go into classified stuff here! Both aircraft have about the same accuracy. Both can air refuel. The H-model can be distinguised by 2 huge chin mounted antenaes (jammers).

The U-model is an 80s model C-130. It has a 25mm cannon up front, as well as the same configuration of 40mm and 105mm cannon found on the H-model. All guns are hydraulically trained. The U-model can pressurize, but has to unpressurize to shoot. Its TV is mounted on a turret, thus the crew entrance door can be used much like other C-130s. It got rid of some of the steam gauges in the cockpit and has limited MCDUs/glass. Only a pilot, copilot, and flight engineer in the cockpit. The rest of the crew is in back or in a "battle management control" (BMC or booth). The U-model also has an F-15 Strike Eagle radar for limited all weather capability. There are other differences, but these are the major ones. Hope I helped.

Thanks Spectre,
Your post was exactly the info I was looking for. Had the pleasure of working with you guys a lot down in Panama. It is an awesome machine that will be around for a long time to come. There is nothing better for "Danger Close" CAS. Cheers....ExAF

The Hog is a great CAS machine as well, but I stand by my original statement that THERE IS NOTHING BETTER FOR "DANGER CLOSE" CAS THAN THE VENERABLE AC-130! It doesn't matter if it is a H or a U model. ;) Fly, Fight and Win!
Future AC-130 pilot?

I'm currently flying C-21s out of Maxwell, and I've got a tactical airlift follow-on. I've flown into Hurlburt and Duke, and I've really thought alot about the AFSOC mission. My first choice out of C-21s will likely be E-models at Ramstein (can't pass up a Europe tour), but it's pretty hard to get that.

I'm leaning heavily now to AC-130s, or even MC-130s as my next choices. Everyone here says I should go slicks because I can avoid getting 'stuck' in AFSOC, but to be honest with you, I've already got 10 years in (prior Army helo pilot) with another 2 years here at Maxwell. I miss the tactical stuff (NVGs, low-level, etc), but I didn't want to fly fighters (I like big airplanes/helicopters).

Another guy told me it would be a bad move because after making IP/EP in C-21s, I wouldn't like sitting in the right seat for a couple years, but again, I really don't care that much.

How hard do you think it would be for me to get AFPC to put a gunship or Talon in my assignment 'drop'? Aside from the current ops due to OEF, what is the usual ops tempo for gunships and Talons (or even Shadows)? My wife doesn't like me gone TDY (what wife ever does), but she'd only be 4-5 hours from home. I've still got a long time to think about this (we usually have to put our preferences down about a year out from our projected PCS date), but I really don't know any AFSOC pilots....everyone I've run into so far either flew slicks or ECs (I am NOT going to fly an EC....).

Thanks for the info.

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