The AC-130 is the world's biggest flying artillery gunship - nicknamed 'Hell in the Sky.' With three side firing weapons, a 25mm gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors cannon, and a 105mm howitzer, it's easy to see why it got its name.
The AC-130 is a heavyweight in a class of its own. The massive gunship brings unparalleled cover for troops on the ground and sheer force to enemy skies, day and night. With its revolutionary side-firing design, the AC-130 revolutionized close air support in the 1960s, but was nearly shelved after its weakness was exposed during Operation Desert Storm. Join us as we show how the latest generation of the plane provides further protection to ground troops as we examine the rise, fall, and rebirth of this legendary aircraft.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.