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.
|A three-view drawing (592 x 869)|
| ENGINE||2 x General Electric J85-GE-17A, 1293 kg|
| Take-off weight||6350 kg||13999 lb|
| Empty weight||2817 kg||6210 lb|
| Wingspan||10.93 m||36 ft 10 in|
| Length||8.62 m||28 ft 3 in|
| Height||2.71 m||9 ft 11 in|
| Wing area||17.98 m2||193.53 sq ft|
| Max. speed||834 km/h||518 mph|
| Cruise speed||787 km/h||489 mph|
| Range w/max.fuel||1629 km||1012 miles|
| Range w/max.payload||740 km||460 miles|
|Harry Brodock, hbrodock=gmail.com, 22.11.2010|
Flew the 6000 pound dog-whistle at Webb on 1968. Went on to Nam in 1970 as a FAC. The VNAF saved my butt several times over a 'country-to-the-west'. Memorable about the bird was when they kept blowing tires on takeoff. It seems that when you held the brakes and powered up the J-85s, the tires would rotate on the hubs and go flat. They ended up drilling holes in the hubs adn screwing the tires to the hubs. Kept them inflated.
|Milton Moore, miltmoore=embarqmail.com, 06.11.2010|
I flew 341 missions in Vietnam with the 604th and 8th SOS in 69-70. I was the active duty AF Advisor to the 917th Tac Ftr Group (AF Reserve) from 76 to 79. The A-37 was the easiest and best fighter I ever flew and the FACs loved us because we could stay on target and deliver low and slow and accurately. We carried as big a load as the F-100 (which I flew right out of pilot training). The side by side seating was great for us IPs.
|Mike Conner, athirtyseven=hotmail.com, 26.10.2010|
I was the Egress Shop Chief with the 110thTASGp ANG Battle Creek, MI for 10 years on the A-37B. The dragonfly ended up with a rocket assisted Ejection Seat in the mid eighties. In some cases it was a bitch to work on but at least you didn't need a ladder! It was fast and fun to ride in.
|Ken Orton, orton7=yahoo.com, 20.10.2010|
Nice little 1st jet trainer. Spins were a real trip. Went through Reese class 70-07. The 6,000 pound dog whistle. Later while living on base at Williams AFB we dreaded the night flights because while taxiing it totally drowned out the TV.
|Ollie Maier, om01=TxState.edu, 29.08.2010|
As a former IP in the T-37 for a number of years and having over 500 combat missions in the A-37 in 'Nam, I thought both aircraft were great for their missions.
In 'Nam, I feel almost all, if not all, the FACs and the troops on the ground loved us as with the great little bird we could get down to where the action was, accurately hit the targets (especially when troops in contact and we helped save many lives), and we could stay around for a couple of hours, often flying on just one engine to save fuel. Think the only other bird in the 'Nam war that was better for close air support as the A-1 which we replaced as there wasn't that many of them left.
If you were associated with the A-37 in any way, why not check out the website to learn about the A-37 'Dragonfly' Association which is open to 'Anyone who flew, worked on, worked with, or just has a high admiration for the great little fighter.'
|Dominick Fanelli, suedomny=aol.com, 05.03.2010|
This was the first jet I was crew cheif on, at Webb Air Force Base Texas. Which they closed and part of it is a prison. It is a great plane to work on and to taxi. I love this little jet. We never had one not return from training.
|Robert Petersen, cowles6=verizon.net, 27.01.2010|
Flew the 37's in 1965-66 as a student pilot at Webb AFB, Texas and after flying the F-4's I returned as a T-37 Instructor from 1967-1970 at Vance AFB, OK. I believe the most outstanding characteristic of the Tweet was that it was very "forgiving". It's artificial stall indiction system and duel engines made it about as safe a trainer as could be built. It was a great plane to prepare pilots for the T-38 and subsequent aircraft. I guess they were phased out because of the number of landings on the individual frames and the cost compared to the props. Loved that Tweeter Robert J. Petersen Webb-Class 66F
|John Davison, davison.john=att.net, 27.01.2010|
I flew The T37 at Bainbridge in 1960. Boy they arn't kidding about the spin. What a great trainer.
|Dick Beck, beckon1=verizon.net, 01.01.2010|
The T-37 was the first airplane that I ever solo'd. This was at Reese AFB, Lubbock, TX in early 1962 (class 63-D)I thought it was "hot stuff". Well, it was hot...and noisy. I had no other reference until I got into the T-Bird (T-33). Then we encountered the T-38 Talon and discovered what "hot" was. Still, I have a fondness for the screaming Tweety Bird.
|Ken Ramsay, ramsayeast=roadrunner.com, 19.12.2009|
I flew the T-37 at Bainbridge AB, GA in the fall of 1960, Class 62-B, the last civilian contract training class. In late 1968 through 1969 I flew the A-37 as an instructor at England AFB, LA. From the T-37 to the A-37 was a real kick in the pants. Had a great time amazing towers who knew what a T-37 was, but had no idea the performance of the A-37, particularly with just internal fuel.
|Sam Herron, samherron=aol.com, 03.12.2009|
I flew the T-37 as an IP at Laughlin AFB. I thought it was a great airplane if you never wanted to go very far in it. Cross-cockpit instrument flight was sporty.
|Dave DiMarchi, dimarchid=aol.com, 16.08.2008|
Like countless thousands of USAF pilots, I got my jet start in "Tweets" (and came back 15 years later to the same squadron as DO). Now all but gone and replaced by the T-6A, this noisy, hot, uncomfortable, ineffient, little jet will hold a warm spot in many pilots' hearts - we just can't hear anything.....
|Walter Martinez, chinofau=hotmail.com, 05.08.2008|
Es correcta la apreciasión referente a la cantidad de estaciones bajo el ala, el A-37B tiene cuatro bajo cada ala. En la FAU se hicieron modificaciones que permitian llevar seis tanques de combustible bajo las alas, en lugar de cuatro aumentando su autonomia. Hermoso avión, vole más de 2500 hs. en él.
|Hank Hoffman, hankthird=aol.com, 22.07.2008|
Benhoa is correct about the eight hard points, and it looks like all the other comments apply to the T-37, not the A-37. I flew the Dragonfly in Vietnam, and also as an instructor at the USAF Test Pilot School. At TPS, spin training was a staple for the bird, but you had to do it with the tip tanks empty. In the spin it was pretty similar to the T-37, especially the recovery procedure, when you banged the stick forward hard. Not mentioned anywhere are the hydraulic inlet screens. These were retractable to avoid FOD on the ground and debris from the rockets fired in the air. I loved the bird.
|Mel Mendelsohn, melmendelsohn=aol.com, 05.07.2008|
HAD 100 HURS IN T-37 AT BARTOW AIR BASE CLASS 60-D. MY INSRUCTOR BOB KAISER FLEW THE AIRCRAFT AT RANDOLPH WITH PROJECT PALM. TESTING THE SPINS. LOVED TO GET US IN AN INVERTED SPIN. HE WAS A GREAT INSTUCTOR.
|m nickel, fsume93=yahoo.com, 28.05.2008|
My grandfather was a machinist at Cessna and lost 2 fingers and a thumb while producing this aircraft.
|Jack, It spun like crazy!, 20.05.2008|
This bird was something else when recovering from a spin. The forward stick move had to be done swiftly. Otherwise the little bird wound up like a cheap watch.
|Butch Owens, 10.05.2008|
I was a flight chief at Craig AFB, Alabama and Laughlin AFB, TX 1976 - 1980. We had T-37s and trained mostly mid eastern foreign pilots. (Iranians)
I wasn,t crazy about the little bird but we had a good oganization and some fine folks so it was a good experience.
|rush, benhoa=email.com, 09.06.2007|
The drawing showing six under wing pylons is incorrect, all A-37s had eight hard points. The A-37A was fitted with cockpit flak-curtains in late '67 or very early '68, and had the mini-gun.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?