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