Michael Stroukoff was born on January 29, 1883 in Ekaterinaslav (presently known as Dnieperpetrosk) in the Ukraine. He
graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Kiev in 1908, served in WW I and in the White Army, finally ranking as a
cavalry major and earning the Order of Saint George (Fourth Class) for bravery. He emigrated to the USA in 1921 and
was initially involved in architecture and interior design. He designed and built several theaters and churches in New
York City, Columbus, OH and Bridgeport, CN. He designed the original Elizabeth Arden Building and did the original
modern art window displays for Wanamaker's. He later designed and built art deco furniture.
Michael Stroukoff became the president and chief engineer of the Chase Aircraft Company, founded in February 1942 in
New York, New York. On February 28, 1944, the USAAF awarded Chase a contract for two wooden MS-1 gliders, the 14-seat
XCG-14 (44-90989), which made its first flight on January 4, 1944 at Newark AFB in Delaware towed by a P-47
Thunderbolt and then, utilizing the wings from the XCG-14, built the 28-seat XCG-14A (44-90990) which made its first
flight on October 16, 1946 at the Newark, NJ Airport. Neither went into production. Both wooden gliders were built of
marine-grade mahogany plywood since all the spruce plywood was prioritized for the WW II war effort and were painted
silver to simulate aluminum.
In late 1946, the company moved to Mercer County Airport in Ewing Township, New Jersey. The performance of the two
XCG-14s led to a new contract signed on January 3, 1947 for a larger XCG-18A-CA all-metal glider; this contract was
later amended to include a second prototype (46-506). The first of these 32-seat gliders took to the air in December,
1947. One feature of these gliders was an upswept rear fuselage; this feature was eventually developed into an
hydraulically-operated loading ramp a shape that remains as a characteristic of most military transports to this day.
In the 1948 revision of type symbols, "CG" was eliminated and replaced by the letter "G" and these two aircraft became
A second contract was signed on March 5, 1948 for five YG-18A-CA service test gliders (47-640 to 47-644) and two
XG-20-CA gliders (47-786 and 47-787). The XG-20-CA could accommodate 60-troops and was the largest glider ever built
in the U.S.
During the test and evaluation period for these aircraft, USAF opinion shifted from gliders to powered assault
aircraft. Michael Stroukoff's design philosophy was that the most efficient and effective powered planes had to be
able to glide thus he utilized high aspect-ratio, high-lift/low-drag wings of his own design. As a result of this
change, Chase installed two Pratt & Whitney 14-cylinder, two row, air-cooled R-2000 radial engines on the second
service test YG-18A (47-641), which was redesignated YC-122-CA, and it made its first powered flight in November 1948.
The XCG-18s and the YC-122s were the same airframes designed with four bolts for the engine nacelles, quick
disconnect plumbing and wiring, fuel cells and both had tow-hook mechanisms in their noses. They were meant to be
sister ships with the YC-122 towing the XCG-18.
On August 12, 1949, the USAF ordered nine YC-122C-CAs (49-2879 to 49-2887) equipped with Wright nine-cylinder,
single-row, air-cooled, 1,425 hp R-1820 radial engines. Most of these aircraft served with the 16th Troop Carrier
Squadron, Assault, Light (Troop Carrier Squadron, Assault, Fixed Wing from November 1954), 316th Troop Carrier Group,
Eighteenth Air Force, Tactical Air Command, from 1951 to 1955. This squadron was based at Stewart AFB, Smyrna,
Tennessee from 1951 to November 1954 and Ardmore AFB, Ardmore, Oklahoma from November 1954 to July 1955.
Chase also modified the XG-20-CA gliders to meet the new USAF requirements. The XCG-20 and the XC-123 were also
designed as sister ships and to this day, all the C-123s ever built were equipped with tow hook mechanisms in
their noses. Chase installed two Pratt & Whitney 18-cylinder, twin-row, air cooled R-2800 radial engines on the first
XG-20-CA (47-786); this aircraft was redesignated XC-123-CA and made its first flight on October 14, 1949.
The second prototype (47-787) was equipped with four General Electric J47-11 turbojets, was redesignated XC-123A-CA
and made its first flight on April 21, 1951. The USAF was impressed with the radial engine prototype and on February
17, 1953, a contract was signed for five C-123Bs (52-1627 to 52-1631). Chase did not have the production capability
and work force to build these aircraft so in May 1953, Henry J. Kaiser, owner of the Kaiser Manufacturing Company of
Willow Run, Michigan, bought 49 percent of Chase Aircraft stock. The five C-123Bs were produced at Willow Run under
the Chase name as C-123B-CNs totally from parts that were shipped overland from West Trenton, New Jersey.
In December 1950, the USAF had requested that the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation of Hagerstown, Maryland,
the manufacturer of the C-119 Flying Boxcar, enter into an agreement with Kaiser to build C-119Fs at the Willow Run
facility. This had been accomplished and Kaiser intended to open a second production line to build the C-123Bs.
However, there was a Congressional investigation in 1953 to determine why Fairchild Aircraft was able to build the
C-119 for $380,000 each versus the $1.3 million Kaiser was charging. As a result of these investigations, the USAF
cancelled Kaiser’s C-119F and C-123 contracts on June 24, 1953. The Air Force still wanted the C-123 and invited
Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft, Lockheed Aircraft, North American Aviation, The Glenn L. Martin Company and Willys
Motors (a subsidiary of Kaiser) to submit bids for the construction of the aircraft. Fairchild was not invited to bid
but at the eleventh hour, they received permission to offer a fixed-cost bid which they did and won the contract to
build 293 C-123Bs.
After the loss of the C-119 and C-123 contracts, Kaiser purchased the remaining stock of Chase and Michael Stroukoff
formed Stroukoff Aircraft with most of the original work force (engineering, production and support), facilities and
tooling at Mercer County Airport, New Jersey. Stroukoff produced four specialized versions of the C-123, which were
used to explore short takeoff and landing (STOL) technology, although none of these aircraft went into production:
- The YC-123D (53-8068) was similar to the C-123B but employed a boundary-layer control system consisting of suction
slots in the wing upper surfaces for additional lift and short take off and landing (STOL) performance. Stroukoff
also explored the Arado system of using suction and blowing over flaps plus flaperons (ailerons that could be
depressed up to 30 degrees as flaps) along the entire trailing edge of the wings.
- YC-123E (55-4031) was equipped with features known as the "Pantobase" system consisting of revised fuselage
undersurfaces, specially designed hydroskis at the wheel wells and underwing floats for operation from land, swamp,
water, ice and snow. It was first flown on the Delaware River beside the Philadelphia Navy Yard in early 1957 and its
takeoff took only 30 seconds from dead start to being fully airborne and off the water.
- YC-134 (52-627) equipped with boundary-layer control and the installation of Wright 18-cylinder, twin row, air
cooled R-3350-89A turbo-compound radial engines driving four-bladed propellers.
- YC-134A was a stretched YC-134 equipped with the "Pantobase” system.Despite sound financing, Stroukoff Aircraft
never recovered from the C-123 contract loss and finally closed its doors completely in 1958. All of its past and
future developmental data was destroyed and is lost. Michael Stroukoff died on December 1, 1973 in Trenton, New
Jersey, and his ashes were buried in New York, New York.