Cessna Model 318 / T-37 / A-37 Dragonfly
1954
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Cessna Model 318 / T-37 / A-37 Dragonfly

In the early 1950s the US Air Force was looking for a turbojet-powered trainer, and in 1953 Cessna was announced winner of this design competition, two prototypes being ordered under the designation XT-37. The company identified the type as the Cessna Model 318, and the first of these made its initial flight on 12 October 1954. It was a perfectly straightforward monoplane of all-metal construction, with pupil and instructor seated in what had long been considered to be an ideal side-by-side arrangement (contrary to the normal US tandem practice). Powerplant consisted of two Continental turbojets (Americanised versions of the French Turbomeca Marbore) mounted within the wing roots on each side of the fuselage. The tail-plane was mounted above the fuselage about one-third of the way up the fin to ensure that the airstream flowing past it was unaffected by the jet efflux.

The first production batch of 11 aircraft, which had the designation T-37A, was ordered during 1954, and the first of these flew on 27 September 1955. The T-37As, of which 534 were built under successive contracts, were slow in entering service as a result of the need for a number of changes and modifications before they were considered acceptable for training purposes.

When introduced into service, in 1957, the T-37s were used initially as basic trainers, the pupils transferring to these aircraft only after completing their primary training on Beech T-34 Mentors. In April 1961 all-through jet training was initiated, the pupil flying from the very beginning of his training on T-37 aircraft which had a speed range of 138-684km/h. No catastrophic accident rate resulted, as had been feared by many, but one point which had not been fully considered was the much higher training cost using jet aircraft. There is inevitably a varying pupil rejection rate at the end of primary training, and it was decided in 1964 to revert to light piston-engine trainers, which are much cheaper to operate, for this primary phase, so that T-37 pupils were those left after the first weeding-out.

The T-37B with more powerful engines and improved nav/com systems, was introduced into service in November 1959, and all surviving T-37 As were converted retrospectively to this standard. Final version was the T-37C with provision for armament and wingtip fuel tanks. When production ended in 1977 a total of 1,268 T-37s had been built for the USAF and for export. "During 1962 two Cessna T-37B trainers were evaluated by the USAF's Special Air Warfare Center to consider their suitability for deployment in the counter-insurgency (COIN) role. These were first tested with their original powerplant of two 465kg thrust Continental J69-T-25 turbojets, at a take-off weight of 3946kg, almost 33% above the normal maximum take-off weight. Subsequently the airframes were modified to accept two 1089kg thrust General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojets. This vast increase in power made it possible for the aircraft, then designated YAT-37D, to be flown at steadily increasing take-off weights until a safe upper limit of 6350kg was reached. There was, clearly, plenty of scope for the carriage of a worthwhile load of weapons.

This exercise was academic, until the need of the war in Vietnam made the USAF take a closer look at this armed version of what had proved to be an excellent trainer. Accordingly, Cessna were requested to convert 39 T-37B trainers to a light-strike configuration, a contract being awarded in 1966: this related to the conversion of new T-37B aircraft taken from the production line. The new model was based on the earlier experiments with the two YAT-37Ds, and equipped with eight underwing hard-points, provided with wingtip tanks to increase fuel capacity and powered by derated General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojets.

Delivery to the USAF began on 2 May 1967, and during the latter half of that year a squadron numbering 25 of these aircraft, designated A-37A and named Dragonfly, underwent a four-month operational evaluation in South Vietnam. Following this investigation they were transferred for operational duty with the 604th Air Commando Squadron at Bien Hoa; in 1970 they were assigned to the South Vietnamese air force.

During this period, Cessna had built the Model 318E prototype of a purpose-designated light-strike aircraft based on the T-37 and this flew for the first time in September 1967. Little time was lost in evaluation and the initial production batch of this A-37B was started quickly enough for the first deliveries to begin in May 1968.

The A-37B differed in construction from the prototype YAT-37D, its air-frame stressed for 6g loading, maximum internal fuel capacity increased to 1920 litres with the ability to carry four auxiliary tanks having a combined capacity of 1516 litres, and with provision for flight-refuelling.

Powerplant was changed to two General Electric J85-GE-17A turbojets. A GAU-2B/A 7.62mm Minigun was installed, and the eight underwing hardpoints could carry in excess of 2268kg of mixed stores. For the assessment of results both gun and strike cameras were carried, and some armour protection for the crew of two was provided by the inclusion of layered nylon flak-curtains installed around the cockpit.

By the time that production ended in 1967, a total of 577 A-37Bs has been built, and in addition to serving with the USAF the type was supplied in small numbers to friendly nations. Many were transferred to the US Air National Guard and to the South Vietnam air force.

3-View 
Cessna Model 318 / T-37 / A-37 DragonflyA three-view drawing (592 x 869)


Specification 
 MODELA-37B
 ENGINE2 x General Electric J85-GE-17A, 1293 kg
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight6350 kg13999 lb
    Empty weight2817 kg6210 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan10.93 m36 ft 10 in
    Length8.62 m28 ft 3 in
    Height2.71 m9 ft 11 in
    Wing area17.98 m2193.53 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed834 km/h518 mph
    Cruise speed787 km/h489 mph
    Range w/max.fuel1629 km1012 miles
    Range w/max.payload740 km460 miles

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Lon Holtz, amscom=embarqmail.com, 16.11.2013

Had the privilege of logging 350 combat missions in the A-37a with the third group of pilots in Vietnam. It was a true pilot aircraft that produced exceptional Closer Air Support and saved countless lives in Troops In Contact engagements with the uncanny accuracy of less then 45 feet from any delivery angle. Its small size and lower then other fighter delivery speeds our survibility rate was extremely high with only 11 aircraft lost to enemy actions out of over 100,000 sorties flown in three squadrons. We rapidly went from novelty status to the favorite of Forward Air Controllers and ground commanders as we could go further stay longer and put the bombs exactly where needed.

Jarvis H "Flip" Latham, k4jhl=earthlink.net, 23.10.2013

Flew the T-37 at Bainbridge in Class 59-G. Ours was, I believe, the first regular Primary class to use the bird. Class 59-D at Bainbridge also flew the T-37, but they were a "Test" class with the designation "Project Palm." My civilian instructor was Sam Weil, one of the best instructors I had. I graduated from pilot training with 59H at Greenville, Miss. Went from there to B-47s at Lincoln AFB.

Julio Torres, lincelider=gmail.com, 10.07.2013

Flew it at Bainbridge AB, Georgia Class 60C end of 1958 as Aviation Cadet of the Venezuelan Air Force, remember at that time there was a crew, instructor and student, had to eject as they went into an inverted spin.

Kara Mcghee, karamcghee13=gmail.com, 25.12.2012

Does anyone know where I can get a clock from one of these?

Dick Conan, theconans=roadrunner.com, 19.10.2012

To Bob Insel et al: I was in class 60-E pre-flight and had planned a career in the A.F. Things were going well... I was the Cadet Group Commander for Red Birds (Pilots) under Lt. Hayes (the Shadow.) Two weeks before going to Marianna, Florida, the Flt Surgeon found out I had arrythmia (heart palpitations and was "zapped" on a medical. It broke my heart and I still think... "What if?" Our class was told we would be the first to fly the
T-37 and the Northrop T-39, but maybe they lied. Anyway, if there are any Class 60-Echo men out there, please drop me a line. So many of our men lost their lives in Vietnam and in accidents. William "Smitty" Smith and Wayne Ensminger both died soon after graduation. Anyone out there know them?

Bob Insel, rinsel=windstream.net, 20.06.2012

Our cadet class,59-G, were going to be the first class to get the T-37,at Graham Air Base, however, there was not enough available. Class 59-H were the lucky ones. I washed out at the end primary. I sure would like to hear from any one from class 59-G or for that matter, any cadet class.

Keith Barney, kbarney22=gmail.com, 02.06.2012

As a weapons mechanic I went from F-4s to A-37s to B-52s, hat a ride! The Tweet was definitely the easiest to work on as long as you didn't mind walking on your knees a lot. I was at Bien Hoa and Pleiku with the 604th, 7/67 to 7/68 through Tet and the around the clock endurance test. Great little weapons platform.

Charlie Bryant, zcotton=aol.com, 09.05.2012

I deployed with the first group of









I was NCOIC of the Nav Aids section deployed on Combat Dragon in Feb '67 to England AFB, Lousiana then to Bien Hoa, South Viet Nam where we provided maintenance support for the A-37A during combat evaluations for the aircraft. It was a great experience with many many memories.

Andy, cornmuse=hotmail.com, 14.01.2012

Long time ago. I was in (I think) technitions squadron. I worked on the ejection seats in the a37's. I was ALL alone and used to take the comm-nav guy to help me out. (Damn the rules!)

John Whistler, flyjcwhis=msn.com, 12.01.2012

I flew the 37's in the 604th 67-68 also F-100'S. The Tweet for 200 combat missions. Grest little bomber down in the trees with the troops on the ground, they always were happy to have us around in tight spots. It was easy to service and turn around for the next mission.

dick gruber, 07.01.2012

Flew 252 missions in the A-37 in '69/'70 Vietnam war...very effective close air support aircraft. We were able to pretty well "pin-point" our ordinance delivery, because our bomb,nap and rocket release altitudes were set for optimal low level accuracy...great airplane.Also great number of men in the 604th.

Robert, cleanandry=aol.com, 23.12.2011

I worked on the A-37B as a munitions loader/maintenance tech, 1972-77, at Youngstown Air Reserve Base, Vienna, Ohio. 910SOG. Got to fly right seat on a few deployments to Grissom for weapons range training. What a thrill ride for a non-pilot!

warren hester, warren_hester=sbcglobal.net, 25.10.2011

I flew the tweet in 1958-59 with class 61A after my time in the t34 Great times as an Air Force Cadet. one of the last classes through Bainbridge Loved performing the spins, always kept my barf bag close at hand. Unfortunately The T37 was my last jet ride as I got washed out on a medical just before graduation

Kent McInnis, RioRiverRat=cox.net, 28.09.2011

I was both a student and IP in T-37s at Laredo AFB. I loved to do spins and recovery from them. I remember a colonel telling our group, that in recovering from a spin, abrupt forward movement of the stick was essential. The HSI was our target. "If you break the HSI," he told us, "I'll buy you a keg of beer." So while I was at Randolph AFB in IP School in 1971, two pilots doing spin rides tried to break the HSI during a spin recovery. They failed, of course, but did manage to break the control stick from its base. Nobody died, but it grounded the whole T-37 fleet for about a week. It adds a new layer of meaning to saying, "I've got the stick."

Sarwar Uddin, sarwarb2=gmail.com, 05.09.2011

Any body have any information about any Company / Repair station who can able to overhaul T-37 A / B Aircraft's ???

Really appreciate , since I like to overhaul some T-37 Aircraft .
Thanks

Dave Doeing, Doeing=cox.net, 25.08.2011

Was at England A.F.B. from Nov.69 to Jan.72. Worked the flight line as engine mech.Great plane and alot of fun to work on.

Tom Parrish, top937=insightbb.com, 23.07.2011

I loved flying this airplane. I flew it at Graham AB in 1959 Class 60 Golf. It was a real cool ride but the spin was something else. Kick opposite rudder and "Pop" the stick forward........I think, LOL

Tom Parrish, top937=insightbb.com, 03.06.2011

Flew the Tweet for about 100 hr's at Graham A.B. 1959, Class 60-G. Sweet airplane.......loved the inverted spin!

Jon Shafer, starter13=att.net, 20.05.2011

Because of several accidents while practicing spins, Air Training Command required each T-37 Instructor to go through spin qualification/certification.

I became Stan Board's spin qualification Instructor for our Squadron. Entries into erect, inverted and accelerated spins were practiced and demonstrated. Rudder and aleron only recoveries were demonstrated and practiced.

Many Instructors were intimadated by the spin. After our qualification program they were much more confident.

However, it was later determined that some of the older T-37's were so "out of rig" that they were unrecoverable from a spin, so any spinning was untimately prohibited.

Jon Shafer, starter13=att.net, 20.05.2011

I flew the T-37 as a student and instructor. You have an error in your description of the the T-37. The T-37 was never a Basic Trainer. It was used in primary training only. In the late 50's and early 60's the T-33 and later the T-38 were used in Basic Training.

1-20 21-40 41-60

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