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The Air Force Built a Little Baby C-17 That’s 32 Feet Long

  • The U.S. Air Force’s 315th Airlift Wing has a miniature C-17 Globemaster III transport.
  • Air Force personnel built the nearly 2-ton model from a utility vehicle.
  • The 315th Airlift Wing takes the Mini C-17 on the road to air shows as a publicity and recruiting tool.

    The U.S. Air Force officially operates a fleet of 222 C-17 Globemaster III transports. But unofficially, the service has 223 C-17s—that is, if you count the “Mini C-17.” The adorable, toylike model, which Air Force personnel built in the early 2000s, almost looks like a plane in its own right.

    The C-17 Globemaster III is the backbone of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. A squat, chunky, transport plane, the C-17 carries outsized cargo that other planes can’t, including tanks, satellites, and Black Hawk helicopters. C-17s have an intercontinental range, with the jumbo jets traveling as far as Antarctica to support the National Science Foundation.

    attendees of the yeovilton, england crowd around the 315th airift wing's mini c 17 and a charleston c 17 globemaster iii july 2 this was the mini c 17's first trip across the pond and was a huge hit at yeovilton air day 2016 this is the 315th aws second time visiting royal naval air station yeovilton, england, and the mighty presence of the mini c 17 helped seal the deal for another “best static display” award the miniature c 17 has been used all across the united states to promote the air force reserve and bolster recruiting efforts at air shows, parades and other community events us air force photo by master sgt shane ellis

    Baby C-17 exhibited next to the real thing, Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, England, 2016.

    U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Shane Ellis/DVIDS

    C-17 #223, on the other hand, can’t do any of these things. As Task & Purpose explains, airmen of the 315th Airlift Wing built the “aircraft” out of a donated John Deere Gator utility vehicle and scrap material. The result is a 32-foot-long C-17, or a roughly one-sixth scale model of the real thing.


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    The plane, nicknamed “Spirit of Hope, Liberty & Freedom” is painted in Air Force AMC Gray paint and even sports realistic-looking markings that indicate it’s part of the 315th Wing.

    The replica can be partially disassembled for transport, either in its custom semi trailer or a real C-17. When disassembled, the Mini C-17 can travel up to 15 miles per hour.

    The Mini C-17 is the latest in a long line of miniature military vehicles worldwide. Here’s a video from Japan of the country’s Maritime Self Defense Force explaining how its P-3C Orion sub-hunting planes chase enemy submarines:

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    The P-3C chases an enemy submarine—conveniently painted in the red and black colors of the People’s Liberation Army Navy—before releasing a Mk. 44 anti-submarine torpedo and, well, you just have to watch until the end.


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