The History of Tanker 134, A US Navy Veteran

For those who work in wildland fires you will know how vital air support can be. Coulson has been fighting fires over 20 years and is extremely safe. Coulson Aviation was founded in 1990 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Coulson Aircrane Ltd. From 1990 to 1993 Coulson Aviation provided the personnel for extensive heli-logging operations in Alaska. In the succeeding years, Coulson Aviation purchased its first C-130 Hercules that currently holds contracts within the United States and Australia. A second C-130 Hercules was acquired for the program in 2015 to accommodate the growing need for large air tankers.

Tanker 134 (N134CG, Serial #382-4904) came to life in 1982 when it was developed as an EC-130Q, one of 12 hercs designed for the US Navy U.S. Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine force and as a backup communications link for the U.S. Air Force manned strategic bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile forces. The EC-130Qs are closely resembled to the C-130H but the 12 “Q” models were outfitted with complex electronics systems, including a six-mile long trailing wire antenna, for communicating with submarines and bombers. Coulson bought N134CG in 2017 from the US Military and began converting it to an aerial fire bomber.

In 2018 Tanker 134 received her number and was consider fully operational. Though Tanker 134 had not been painted to its final livery wearing the “Rat Rod” livery. During the 2018/2019 bushfire season it was in Australia on its first firefighting contract. Her very first operational drop near NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna near Canberra, Australia.

In April she returned back to America to finally wear her famous white coat and fantastic livery. I personally enjoyed the Rat Rod livery same as a ton people.

During the 2019 fire season in the United States T-134 was on a contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was seen across the state that summer, and for a while operated out of Ramona, an airport with a relatively short runway that presents a challenge for some large air tankers.

Tanker 134 would serve through out California and Oregon along with Tanker 132 and Tanker 138, Coulsons newest bomber the 737-300 “Fireliner”. Tanker 134 arrived to Australia in November of 2019 to support operations. As we all know Tanker 134 flew its last flight supporting Australians in New South Wales when it tragic left us.


Thank you for this great post. This was very well formatted. Well done


Pray for the families… and the crew will now be able to fly forever high!


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