Cessna O-2 Skymaster
|An O-2 Skymaster|
|First flight||January 1967|
|Retired||USA 2010, South Korea 2006|
|Primary users||Botswana Air Force
Salvadoran Air Force
|Developed from||Cessna Skymaster|
The O-2 Skymaster (also known as the "Oscar Deuce" or "The Duck") is a military version of the Cessna 337 Super Skymaster utilized as an observation and forward air control (FAC) aircraft. The United States Air Force commissioned Cessna to build a military variant to replace the O-1 Bird Dog in 1966.
Design and development
As with the civilian version, the Skymaster was a low-cost twin-engine piston-powered aircraft, with one engine in the nose of the aircraft and a second engine in the rear of the fuselage. The push-pull configuration meant a simpler single-engine operating procedure due to centerline thrust compared to the common low-wing mounting of most twin engine light planes, and also allowed for a high wing, providing clear observation below and behind the aircraft. During the Vietnam War, the Skymaster was intended to be replaced in the forward air control (FAC) mission by the OV-10 Bronco, but the O-2A maintained a night mission role after the OV-10's introduction due to the OV-10's high level of cockpit illumination, rendering night reconnaissance impractical. The O-2 was phased out completely after additional OV-10 night upgrades.
The first O-2 flew in January 1967 and the plane went into production shortly thereafter, with the USAF taking delivery in March 1967. A total of 532 O-2s were built in two variants for the USAF by 1970. The O-2A served as a FAC aircraft with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron, while the O-2B was equipped with loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser for use in the psychological operations (PSYOPS) role. Several USAF O-2 aircraft were later transferred to and operated by the former VNAF South Vietnamese Air Force.
Six former USAF O-2A airframes were also transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1983 for use as "range controllers" with Attack Squadron 122 (VA-122), the Pacific Fleet Replacement Squadron for the A-7 Corsair II at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. These same aircraft were later transferred to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), the F/A-18 Hornet FRS at NAS Lemoore, in 1986 for use in the same range control role. The six Navy O-2A's remained in this role until September 1990, when they were replaced by T-34C Turbo Mentor aircraft transferred from the Naval Air Training Command. Four of the Navy O-2A aircraft were retired and two of these became civil registered in October 1991. These two aircraft were flown in U.S. airshows performing a "Viet Nam Warbird COIN/FAC" routine during the 1990s. The routine debuted at the "Wings Over Houston" (Texas) airshow in October 1991.
Of the six USN aircraft mentioned above, two were transferred to the U.S. Army in late 1990. O-2As had originally entered the U.S. Army's inventory in 1967 from USAF stocks and were augmented by the 1990 aircraft transfer from the U.S. Navy. Several disassembled USAF O-2s remain in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Two O-2As were used at Laguna Army Airfield, Arizona as part of testing programs carried out by the Yuma Proving Ground. These were retired in October 2010 and sent to a museum.
A total of 178 USAF O-2 Skymasters were lost in the Vietnam War, to all causes.
During the Salvadoran Civil War the Salvadoran Air Force received a total of 23 O-2As and 2 O-2Bs from the United States, the first arriving in 1981. The O-2s were employed to observe the movements of FMLN formations and direct air strikes against them, playing a major role in forcing the rebel movement to abandon large-scale operations. Near the end of the war in 1990, the rebel's acquisition of SA-7 missiles resulted in the loss of two O-2As, while another was destroyed by mortar fire, and two more were lost in crashes.
In the mid 1970s, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE, found that the contractor-owned air attack aircraft, mostly single-engine Cessna 182s and Cessna 210s, did not provide the airspeed and safety needed for the department's new air tanker program. In 1974, Senior Air Operations Officer, Cotton Mason, inspected 40 USAF O-2s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The best 20 were selected and shipped to Fresno, California. These aircraft had been FAC aircraft in Vietnam and were shipped back to the United States in containers, and were disassembled and on pallets when they arrived at Fresno. A crew of California Conservation Corps (CCC) members under the supervision of a CDF Battalion Chief who was an FAA Certificated Mechanic with Inspection Authorization (IA), reassembled the aircraft. They were placed in service in 1976, and successfully served CALFIRE for more than 20 years, until replaced by a fleet of OV-10 Broncos.
- Version designed for use in forward air control missions, features ordnance hard points underneath the wings to hold rockets, gun pods or flares. 513 were delivered.
- Version designed for psychological warfare, and was equipped with loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser, but otherwise carried no weapons. Thirty-one former civil 337s were converted to O-2Bs.
- Chilean Air Force 10 O-2A, only two in service at Easter Island, others dismantled and one to Aviation Museum at Los Cerrillos.
- Chilean Navy - 10 O-2A, six operated, two to Navy Aero Club that went to the Navy, two used for spares, one crashed and due to replacement by 2013.
- Salvadoran Air Force - 18 O-2A and two O-2B, delivered starting 1981. Eight O-2A and one O-2B remain in service.
- Haitian Air Force - Eight (in service 1975-98) Reportedly six of these are Model 337s, and only two O-2As.
- Namibian Air Force - Six O-2A, five of which were delivered on June 26, 1994, for use in the anti-poaching and anti-smuggling rôle.
- Crew: 2 - pilot and observer
- Length: 29.75 ft (9.07 m)
- Wingspan: 38.17 ft (11.63 m)
- Height: 9.17 ft (2.79 m)
- Wing area: 202.5 ft² (18.8 m²)
- Empty weight: 2,848 lb (1,292 kg)
- Loaded weight: 5,400 lb (2,448 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Continental IO-360C six-cylinder flat engines, 210 hp (157 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 200 mph (322 km/h)
- Range: 1,325 mi (2,132 km) combat
- Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,490 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,180 ft/min (6 m/s)
Aircraft on display
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21331, National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21368, Air Commando Park, Hurlburt Field, Florida
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-10962, Main Gate, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21331, c/n 337M-0037, marked as 68-6864, c/n 337M-0153, Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21376, 105th Airlift Wing area, Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-11164, USAF History and Traditions Museum, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-6865, Kelly Field Heritage Museum, Lackland Air Force Base/Kelly Field Annex (formerly Kelly Air Force Base), Texas
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21326, Dyess Linear Air Park, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21395, Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-10848, Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum, Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, California
- O-2A AF Ser. No. 68-10853, Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill Air Force Base, Utah
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21380, Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-6871, Grissom Air Museum, Grissom Air Reserve Base (formerly Grissom Air Force Base), Indiana
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-11160, 182nd Airlift Wing complex, Peoria Air National Guard Base, General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, Illinois
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 68-6901, Pima Air and Space Museum (adjacent to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base), Tucson, Arizona
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21413, Castle Air Museum (former Castle Air Force Base), Atwater, California
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21411, Chanute Display Center, Rantoul National Aviation Center (former Chanute Air Force Base), Illinois
- O-2A, AF Ser. No. 67-21330, Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, Florida
- O-2B, AF Ser. No. 67-21465, March Field Air Museum, March Air Reserve Base (formerly March Air Force Base), California
- In addition, several O-2s are privately operated as "warbirds".
Notable appearances in media
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- The OV-10 Bronco Association (March 2002). "What is the Pave Nail system?". Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Skutack, Daniel (February 2003). "COVEY's in Southeast Asia". Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- Fact Sheets : Cessna O-2A Skymaster : Cessna O-2A Skymaster
- The United States Military Aviation Directory, AIRTime Publishing, Norwalk, CT, c2000, p. 231, ISBN 1-880588-29-3
- Hobson, Chris. Vietnam Air Losses, USAF/USN/USMC/ Fixed-Wing Southeast Asia 1961-1973. 2001. ISBN 1-85780-115-6
- Cooper, Tom. "El Salvador, 1980-1992". ACIG.org. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- This section contains public domain material taken from "CDF Aviation Management History", CDF official website, retrieved August 23, 2007
- Andrade 1979, page 140
- "Cessna Skymasters used by non-US Air-Forces", Skymaster.org.uk. Accessed May 10, 2010.
- Haiti Air Force
- 21st. Counter Insurgence Squadron O-2A
- AIR International, December 1994, page 323.
- US Navy O-2 Pelican
- United States Air Force Museum
- National Museum of the US Air Force - Cessna O-2A Skymaster
- Hulburt Field - O-2A Skymaster
- Shaw AFB
- USAF Armament Museum
- New York ANG - 105th AG, Newburgh
- USAF History and Traditions Museum
- Kelly Field Heritage Museum
- Dyess Linear Air Park
- Air Mobility Command Museum
- Travis Air Force Museum
- "Hill Air Force Base - Fact Sheet (Printable) : "SUPER SKYMASTER"". Hill.af.mil. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- Museum of Aviation - Cessna O-2A "Skymaster"
- Grissom Air Museum - Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster
- llinois ANG - 182nd AG, Peoria
- Pima Air & Space Museum
- Castle Air Museum
- Chanute Display Center
- Valiant Air Command Museum
- March Field Air Museum
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