Cessna Model 305A / O-1 Bird Dog
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  OBSERVATION, LIAISONVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Cessna  


In the late 1940s the US Army issued a specification for a two-seat liaison and observation monoplane. From the submissions received from manufacturers that of the Cessna Aircraft Company was declared the winner and in June 1950 an initial contract was awarded for 418 examples of the aircraft, which the company identified as the Cessna Model 305A.

Cessna's design was based upon the successful Model 170, a light-weight strut-braced high-wing monoplane, powered by a 108kW Continental flat-six engine, which provided accommodation for a pilot and three passengers. The Model 305A differed by having the aft fuselage redesigned to give a clear view to the rear and by the provision of transparent panels in the wing centre-section, which formed the cabin roof. A wider access door gave room to load a standard stretcher, for which support brackets were installed.

Deliveries of production aircraft began in December 1950, under the designation L-19A and with the name Bird Dog, and by October 1954, 2,486 had been delivered, of which 60 where diverted to the US Marine Corps which designated them OE-1. An L-19A-IT instrument trainer version was developed in 1953, TL-19D trainers with constant-speed propellers appeared in 1956 and improved L-19E, of higher gross weight, was the final version to bring total production of Bird Dogs to 3,431. With rede-signation in 1962, the US Army's L-19A, TL-19D and L-19E aircraft became O-1A, TO-1D and O-1E respectively. The US Marines' OE-1 became O-1B and this service also acquired 25 of the higher-powered O-1C. US Army trainers, derived from standard production aircraft, had the designations TO-1A and TO-1E.

Bird Dogs were operated in small numbers during the Korean War, but the US Air Force acquired many of the US Army's O-1s for use by forward air controllers in Vietnam; former TO-1Ds and O-1As were redesignated O-1F and O-1G respectively when equipped for this role. In addition to being supplied to many nations, O-1s were also built under licence by Fuji in Japan.

 ENGINE1 x Continental O-470-11 flat-six piston engine, 159kW
    Take-off weight1089 kg2401 lb
    Empty weight732 kg1614 lb
    Wingspan10.97 m36 ft 0 in
    Length7.85 m26 ft 9 in
    Height2.22 m7 ft 3 in
    Wing area16.16 m2173.94 sq ft
    Max. speed209 km/h130 mph
    Range853 km530 miles

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120
Victor Hickok, 04.01.2012

I was at Ft Rucker AL for aircraft maint schools from Jul - Dec 1965, then was assigned to Viet Nam to serve 1 year with 219th Avn Co as Crew Chief. After 21 hours of Combat Assault rear seat time, and getting ill on every flight, I was assigned to the POL Section as Aircraft Refueler operating the M-49C Tanker Truck that refueled the 219th's Aircraft. I love the Bird Dog, and its performance.

Doc Clement, 22.11.2011

I flew the Birddog with the 220th Catkillers in Vietnam in 1968 along the DMZ and one of the first to fly North Vietnam in the 0-1, also flew with the 219th Headhunters. You can read our book "A Hundred Feet Over Hell" by Jim Hooper.

Kenneth R. Kunz, 03.11.2011

I flew Birddogs in Vietnam in 1968-1969 out of Marble Mountain AF DaNang. The 21st RAC (Blackaces). Flew 912 hours as a TACA for the 1st Mar Div AO's. Call sign Blackace 18. Great bird, always brought me home.

Bob Pettengill, 26.08.2011

I loved this airplane. I was an army aviator with primary training in L 21's at Gary Airforce Base and transitioned to the L 19 at Ft Rucker, AL in 1956. It had fantastic short field take off and landing capability. We were taught to land it on unimproved fields, curved roads, up hill and down hill, you name it. It was a great airplane.

Bob Anderson, 18.08.2011

The L-19 (O-1) has to be my favorite A/C of all my flight experience. Army Flt Class 54K. Short field landings and takeoffs over barriers were always the most fun. With 60 degree flaps and a bit of wind it could almost be hovered down. Even after going into helicopters it was a thrill to get back into a Bird Dog.

Hank Koppelmaa, 09.05.2011

I flew the O-1 with the 74th RAC out of Phu Loi and Duc Hoa in '66-67. Great aircraft. Call Sign "Aloft 22". When we switched from two to four rockets on each wing,(4 WP, 4 HE)we could really help out the ground pounders until the gun ships arrived.

Eldon Faast, 29.03.2011

Flew O-1D/G with 219th Headhunters Camp Hollaway 69-70. Was the greatest 'seat of the pants' flying and most fun except for being shot at, I had done in 45 years of flying.

Scott Boyd, 11.03.2011

I flew them on CAP searches from Gunnison Colorado back in the early 70's. My initial check-ride required a 60 degree flap no power landing. Later they locked the flaps at 45 degrees.

J.R. Smith, 11.03.2011

The very first aircraft I crewed in the Army at Ft. Lewis Wa. after Av school at Ft. Rucker Al. 1962. Crewed for a Lt. Haddock. He was a bush pilot from Ogden Ut. He bet me he could get me sick....He did! And this Pvt. E-Nothing really lost the bet, not to mention the 3 hours it took me to clean up my ship. We used to fly up and down the rivers around Ft. Lewis and piss off the duck hunters. At least we never took any buckshot. Fun aircraft and my first experiance in Army Aviation. However....not fun landing in high winds....Greatest memories though. Later came the Otter at Ft. Jackson and then the Helio Courier/U-10 at Ft Benning.

William Sauers, 03.03.2011

I finished sitting alert for THE CUBAN CRISIS IN MY F-100,Was sent to AGOS(AIR GROUND OPS SCHOOL)the USAF wanted qualified Fighter jocks to control air attacks and the air war. In1963 there were 14 of us sent to S.V.N. P.C.S. I had 30 hours in a prop plane T34 and all the rest was in jets,Had never flown a tail drager,and was used to formal schools with each aircraft.Whoooa, I had 2 or 3 flights in the L19 with another fighter pilot Major at Bien Hoa on a 10,000' runway 150' wide in a svn L-19. and off I went! We figured out to use a greese mark on the fwd windshield to aim the rockets for marking targets. You had to keep the ball centered to hit the targets. We had 2.75 rockets occasionaly with 3.75 W.P.warheads.You could destroy a target marking it with those. My U.S.Army buddies gave me a case of W.P. Grenades,and a case of the new frag grenades for skip bombing.We only had t28's, B26's, and a few A1H's to direct so you had to self help. The L19 was a pleasure to fly, low and slow, could strafe out the side with your AR-15. The Army had none at the time.I could have traded it for a tank.
I worked setting up air ops , at Bien Hoa w Col.Kia and %th Divison Commander/later president Theiu.
I had never seen,let alone landed on grass runway's,and 1,000' O.M.G. What a fast self taught learning curve.I workedTai Ninh, Baria/Cape saint Jac,always 3rd Corp. The most powerful job I ever had i a Plane we changed to "F-19". I returned to the Z.I. and trained in the F105 and right back to N.V.N. with something to hit back with.

George Mundis, 09.02.2011

Many great memories of the old Birddog. I was a member of WOFWAC 63=1W the 1st WO candidate class to go thru fixed wing training in the L19 then on to Nam in the 73rd RAC 64/65 flying out of Danang later in 68/69 was O1 SIP in Germany S&S Det in Augsberg & Schwabisch Hall. Then to mother Rucker after charm school X 2 SIP at DSIT. And sadly, got to fly one to Tucson when the Army transferred many to the CAP.and ditto on Wayne Hutto's comments about instructing from the back seat especially at night, over the barrier OMG did I do that. My best to you Ancient Army Aviators and all other Birddogers too.

charles Finch, 08.02.2011

LORI-The aircraft you mentioned in your blog, ship number 133811 belonged to VMO-2 and was taken out of service in Sept 1965 according to the book. I will email the author to see if he has any other details.

Charles Finch, 08.02.2011

Flew this 1968-1969 with 220th RAC Catkillers. "100 Feet over Hell" is book by Jim Hooper about the unit. "The BIRD DOGS' TALE by Bobby Jack Wooley has a detailed of all tail numbers and their history. If Lloyd Morgan reads this, get in touch with me. Worked under Barry Mainardi teaching 0-1s for a year. Have 3400 hours in the aircraft.

Bob Bailey, 06.02.2011

Flew that magnificient machine out of Bien Hoa Sept. 63 to March 64 then from Vung Tau until Sept. 64. 73rd Aviation Company (Airplane Surv. Lt.)First Birddog unit in country. This airplane and the men that flew them have never been adequately recognized for contribution to war effort.

Lori McNamara, 02.02.2011

My dad's plane (Jim Livengood - USMC) in Vietnam '65 was O-1B Bird dog #133811. Is it possible to track down an old military plane?

Mike Harwood, 25.01.2011

I flew 903 in Vietnam from 69-70 out of Dalat in the Central Highlands.

Walt Drewes, 09.01.2011

I would like to contact Paul Dodd, does he still have the
Thank You

John B. Howard, 12.12.2010

Corrected e-mail address

John B. Howard, 12.12.2010

I flew the 0-1 with the First Air Cav, as a pilot for eBtry/82nd Arty at Phouc Vinh in 1969/70, callsign "Woodpecker 33", later changed to "Red Falcon" because some dumbass Div. commander didn't like hearing the controllers shorten our callsign to simply "pecker" on the radio. Great airplane, later instructed in the Birddog at Ft Stewart, Ga, and had the honor to instruct in the "last birddog class" in 1971. Would love to hear from any of the great pilots I served with in Nam.

Barry Mainardi, 09.12.2010

I flew Birddogs in Kontum, Central Highlands, RVN 1969.My call sign was "Headhunter 26" as Platoon Leader, 2nd Platoon, 219th Avn Co. There are great memories of flying through Dak Mek Valley, Tri-Border (Cambodia/Laos/RVN) … both sides on the border … guess we got lost!!! That aircraft could perform mountain maneuvers that even surprised me while I was performing them. Any mountain flyers out there remember “rudder turns” using those 60 degree flaps? Any flyers remember landing on those “A-Team” camps when the Density Altitude was so high, you could only take off in the morning or early evening? Really fun with rockets also!!!! Few believe that there were times when we flew with 4 rockets on each wing. Thank God I have pictures … thank God I can write about it LOL. I flew around 1,500 hrs supporting Command Control Central and MAC-V. When I returned, I served as a Flight Instructor/Commander for the “D-2” Section of the Army Aviation School at Ft. Rucker until the Birddog was “retired”. My call sign at the School was "Trojan". Don't ask!!!! God bless all you guys!!!!

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