AC-130H dropping IRCM flares to confuse enemy fire. Aircraft shown is in current configuration.
The above photo is AC-130A, #54-1629, which was one of the original 6 Spectre Gunships deployed to SE Asia in the Fall of 1968. It carried 4x7.62 mm mini-guns and 4x20 mm Vulcan Gatling guns. This aircraft was lost to AAA on 24 May 1969.
Photo of "First Lady" which was the very first C-130 accepted by the USAF. It was converted to the Gunship configuration and went to Ubon in 1968 as one of the first six AC-130As to see combat in 68-'69. AC-130A #53-3129 is on static display at the Eglin Armament Museum near Eglin AFB, FL.
The Granddaddy of the AC-130 Spectre Gunships shown in flight over Eglin in the late 1960's. Note the 4 x 7.62 mm guns and the 4 x 20 mm guns. Also note the early radar that gives the aircraft the 'blunt nose' look.
Above photo shows the left seat where the pilot sat in the AC-130A. The pilot fired the guns after lining up two reticules in the HUD (Head-Up Display), located out of the picture, to the pilot's immediate left. He turned his head 90 degrees left after positioning the aircraft into the approximate pylon geometry to put rounds on the target selected. The pilot called for the guns he wanted to use and the Flight Engineer (FE) selected the guns with a toggle switch(s) on his overhead panel.
The aircraft was on autopilot for altitude hold and the pilot had rudder and aileron control. He flew the aircraft into a 30 degree angle of bank turn to the left over the target.
To help do this he used the ILS (Instrument Landing System) indicator on the panel at his left just over the clock at the lower left. You can see the trigger on the yoke where the pilot's left thumb would normally be located.
When the pilot had the two cross-hairs lined up in the ILS indicator, he turned his head to his left and looked into the HUD. The moving reticule (where the sensor had a target) should be just about lined up, or superimposed, with the fixed reticule which is where the guns would hit if there was no sensor identifying a target.
Click here to see an interior diagram of the AC-130H spectre II (These were the follow-on Gunships that were acquired in '70-'71. Note the installation of a 105 mm Howitzer and a single 40 mm Vulcan. )
4 photos above, interior
diagram and text are courtesy of Charlie Spicka
Col., USAF (ret.) Oceanside, Calif.