Depending on how well these are received, the following Boeing C-17 Globemaster III side view illustration templates may be my first (and only) foray into the world of military aircraft.

I’m more of a commercial aviation kind of guy, but I will admit that doing my first ever military-specific aircraft illustration was kind of fun. I just don’t know what the reaction is going to be…

Side view templates of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

The C-17 is an aircraft unlike any other that I have illustrated, and therefore, it was one that had me scratching my head the entire time. I know absolutely nothing about military specific aircraft, so all the little sensors (and other little details) were fun to research.

All White Boeing C-17 Globemaster III Illustration
Side profile illustration of an all white Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. I know. There are very few white C-17’s in existence, but I felt it important not to deviate from my typical aircraft template style. Sorry!
Technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III over a blank background with and without the landing gear deployed
Here’s the technical side profile line drawing. Such a bad*** aircraft!

The C-17 is an interesting aircraft. It looks like a really tough purpose-built cargo hauler from many angles, but downright weird (and disproportionate) from the side profile.

It’s a lot like how most cars look strange when viewed directly from the side. Have you ever seen a Lamborghini Huracan in a perfect side-on view? The wheels are tiny and the overhangs huge! The C-17 suffers the same glaring abnormalities IMHO.

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Boeing C-17 Gobemaster III Template Source Files

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The most interesting design elements of the C-17 Globemaster III

There are a lot of really neat design details on the C-17. From the sheer number of sensors on the forward section of the fuselage (and how complex some of them are), to the overall “bulldog like” stance, it’s like nothing else.

Anyway, these are the C-17 design elements that intrigue me the most:

  • The base of the vertical stabilizer is exactly as wide as the top (when viewed from the side profile). This creates an illusion of the base looking narrower than the top – which is weird, and extremely unique.
  • The main landing gear doesn’t appear to be tall enough to avoid tail strikes. It is, of course, but I imagine it can’t be by much. That’s what happens when you need to make the loading deck as low to the ground as possible I guess
  • Speaking of landing gear, the front gear is surprisingly simple (and small) for such a heavy aircraft. It looks really tiny and disproportionate to the fuselage.
  • The extreme droop of the wings seems unnatural (and not all that efficient). It looks great, but completely opposite of most commercial aircraft I’ve illustrated. For example, the wings on the Boeing 787-9 angle upwards (and flex even more under load).
  • I really like the way that the wings intersect with the fuselage. That connection is very complex, and extremely difficult to illustrate due to how smoothly everything blends together.
  • Much like the forward landing gear, the horizontal stabilizer seems relatively insignificant compared to the overall size of the aircraft. Is this an indication of how stable the C-17 is in the air?
  • What’s up with the lack of windows? I realize that the purpose of the C-17 is to haul cargo most of the time, but it’s also used for troop transport as well. Wouldn’t at least a few windows make sense? And surely there would be a need for crew members to be able to see what’s happening outside (from many angles).

Final thoughts

During the illustration process, I couldn’t help but think how much the C-17 reminded me of what I was feeling when creating my side view A380-800 templates.

Both are extremely fat / 4-engined monsters. Neither looks all that graceful IMHO, which caused me to repeatedly double check my reference material to make sure I wasn’t working with manipulated images of some kind.

I guess that just goes to prove that not all aircraft have to look like rocket ships. It goes against everything I learned as a child while watching Saturday morning cartoons, and it weirds me out a little.

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    the C-17 has a small bearing in the cargo door that is there it make sure that tail strikes, if they happen wont cause damage

  2. My husband was part of the crew that flew the 3rd C-17 to Travis AFB in 2005 or 2006. My son, now 18 and getting his private license, had his first flight at seven weeks from Travis AFB to Altus AFB aboard a C-17. Thank you for this!

    1. Honestly, I’m not much into military aircraft. I do like the big stuff though – maybe I’ll do the C5 Galaxy next.

      1. You might like to know there was a civilian version of the C-5 planned, the L-500. Japan Airlines signed a letter of intent for a few in the 70s. Oil crunch, the 747-200F, stagflation and the fact that military transports are (usually) less efficient than civilian ones, due to them typically having more wing and engine than is needed in a civilian plane, killed the idea.

        1. Wow – I would’ve loved to see a commercial version of the C5! It’s not a particularly good looking aircraft IMHO, but it’s still one of my favorites. I think I need to illustrate it.

    1. Me too John! The only problem is that there didn’t seem to be much interest in my C-17 illustrations – so I’m a bit hesitant to do more military aircraft.

    1. Yes, that one is coming. I’m just trying to gather as much reference material as I can. There’s not a lot out there at the moment…

  3. Also too, there was at least 1 C-17 delivered to Qatar in full Qatari Airways colors. I saw it on the ramp at Frankfurt. It looked quite smart.

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