Aircraft that Have Served in Both Civilian and Military Capacities

There are many examples in aviation history where an aircraft model has served similar roles in both military and civilian use. Especially during the early years of World War II, many civilian aircraft were either modified for, or impressed into military service. Throughout the latter part of the 20th Century, civilian transports were used by military forces for similar job functions, and sometimes a military design was altered to successfully serve the civilian market too.

Here is a collection of military jet-propelled aircraft which have civilian counterparts. Our sister publication, has a propeller-powered article in parallel to this story… here’s the link to that article: 

U.S. military branches used numerous versions of the Convair 240/340/440 airliners. This is a Navy C-131H turboprop, similar  to the Convair 580.

Cessna O-2 Skymaster was a modified Cessna 336/337 light transport. The O-2 was used an observation and Forward Air Control aircraft during the Vietnam War. 

The North American/Ryan Navion civilian light transport was produced soon after World War II ended. Military users included this L-17A.

Dehavilland Canada’s Dash Eight has been modified with navigational radar to offer navigation training in the Royal Canadian Air Force as the CT-142.

During World War II, the Lockheed L-18 Lodestar was used as the C-60 transport, and a highly modified bomber, the Navy’s PV-1 and -2 Ventura as well as the USAAC’s B-34.

Beech’s civilian Model 18 was used as a transport and trainer during World War II. In US service it was known as the C-45, SNB, AT-7 and AT-11, among many designations.

Douglas’s DST (Douglas Sleeper Transort) became the DC-3 airliner and the C-47/C-53 family of transports that served from World War II through to the Vietnam War.

The Lockheed P-3 Orion was loosely derived from the civilian L-188 Electra high speed airliner of the 1950s.

The Antonov 24 was a civilian light airliner as well as a troop and cargo transport for the former Soviet Union.

The Britten-Normal Islander (BT-2B) was used as a liaison aircraft, some had radar fitted for observation duties.

The Beech Super King Air family was modified into numerous transport and reconnaissance versions for the U.S.’s military branches, this is a C-12D transport.

The Beech 1900 19-passenger airliner has found military service as the C-12J in USAF and Air National Guard service.

The long-serving pair of Army C-31As were militarized Fokker-27 transports with provisions for the Golden Knights parachute team.

Cessna C-172G civil light plane is known as the T-41 Mescalero in military training service.

The Civil Air Patrol operated examples of Cessna’s C-182T Skylane in multiple missions.

DeHavilland Canada’s DHC-6 Twin Otter in Search and Rescue colors, and sometimes wears skis for Arctic missions.

Canada’s Dash Eights serve as CC-142s in the transport role, like their civilian Dash 8-100 counterparts in airline use.

French Air Force version of the Reims-Cessna F-406 Caravan II civilian light transport.

Embraer E-121 Xingu light transport is a French Navy light transport as well as a civilian executive transport with a wing design from the EMB-110 Bandeirante.

The Fokker FK-50 airliner has found a military user in the Royal Netherlands Air Force. 

The Howard DGA-15 found use as the GH-3 air ambulance with the US Navy during World War II and later.

Originally the Handley-Page Jetstream 3100 feederliner, this Jetstream T.1 was operated by the Royal Air Force.

The Aero L0610 was an upgraded L-410 transport by the Czech company. The design garnered few orders, and the country’s Air Force used the prototypes for transport duties at the end of the 1900s.

DeHavilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver was known as the L-20 and U-6 with the US military.

French Nord 262 Frigate was active as a civil airliner and modified as the Mohawk 298 with different engines. This is a French Air Force N-262D version.

This US Navy Test Pilot School DeHavilland Canada NU-1B Otter is a militarized version of the DHC-3 Otter.

French Army Pilatus PC-6 is similar to the civilian PC-6, which is a STOL transport and skydiving platform.

Saab S100 Argus is a radar-equipped version of the civilian Saab-340 airliner.

Belgian Air Force Merlin III was produced as an executive civilian turboprop too.

Shorts 360 is a civil airliner, whose design came from the military SC.7 Skyvan and the SHD-3-30 /C-23 transports. This is a National Guard c-23C.

Stinson 10 was used by the fledgling Civil Air Patrol during World War II.

This new Cirrus T-53 is used at the US Air Force Academy.  It’s civilian counterpart is the Cirrus SR-20.

This Grumman Gulfstream I has a Grumman A-6 Intruder nose grafted onto it for A-6 navigator training. It was known as the TC-4A in Navy service.

Lockheed Constellation was origonally the C-69 in military service, and the enlarged versions became the C-121. Civil airliner versions included the L-649, L-1049 and the L-1649 Starliner (which never received a military order).

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