Cessna Model 305A / O-1 Bird Dog
Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  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
Wayne Hutto, 29.11.2010

I flew it in flight school and then spent two tours at the US Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama teaching in the O-1 (one in the Department of Tactics and a second in the intial entry program). It was the first airplane I ever flew and I will never forget the fun times that I spent in it - especailly instructing from the back seat (in the summertime I had the windows open with elbows hanging out both sides) teaching things such as night landings and power approaches over the banners with no forward visitility.

J. S. "Wolf" Wygal (Sgt), 27.11.2010

Was a Crew Chief in the 2nd PLT, 219th RAC Headhunters based in Kontum, RVN. We were an "outlying platoon" as the Co HQ was at Camp Holloway, Pleiku with 4 other flight and one maint platoon. I flew many rear seat hours and thanks to some very smart pilots learned to fly the plane through all phases with stick and rudder, throttle and mixture, and NO instruments...all by seat of the pants.. even learned to crab for "blind" landings (no forward visibility). We carried eight 2.75 rockets, a case of grenades (WP and HE); we even mounted an AM-60 MG on one shackle and a box of 4/1 tracer on the other (under the rt wing and triggered by electric servo). THAT was fun, but alas impractical. The O-1 was the best...simple, rugged, stable, forgiving.

Earle F. Lasseter, 09.11.2010

I was in 58-11(Brown Hats) January 1958 Gary AAF. Love that Birddog. When I was stationed at Ft. McClellan,Al in 1977 there was a small pvt. field that had an L-19 but it was not for sale.

Carl Stevenson, USA Retired, 08.11.2010

Entered US Army fixed wing primary flight training in January 1959 at Gary AAF, San Marcos,TX. The flight trainer was the L-19 Bird Dog. The instructors were civilian contractors, and the check pilots were Army Aviators. After tactical training in the L-19 at Ft Rucker, I was fortunate enough to fly the Bird Dog for the next five years, two at Ft Lee, VA and three in Augsburg, GR, 24th Division Aviation Company. While in the latter assignment, I accumulated many hours of AI in the TL-19D and became an instrument instructor. I remember spending four hour flights in radio relay missions for the Division in the field. This was challenging without a relief tube. But, we jerry-rigged our own. It was humorous to watch autobahn traffic with faster ground speed when flying westward. The Bird Dog could take a lot of punishment and still complete the mission. It would be great to fly one again.

Gerry Unger, 02.11.2010

Hi All,
Trying to help a Nam Vet who was in 18th Aviation Co. QUI NHON, (U.S. Army). He was in Cessena -O-1 Tail No.81703 when it crashed back in Qui Nhon, when it landed back in 68 or 69. The VA is denying the plane ever existed, even though we have pictures of it. Anyone out there recall the incident, the Sgt's name is Giusti? Please get in contact with me so we can help this Vet finally get comp insated for his injuries. Thanks.
Semper Fi,
Semper Fi

Doran S Platt III, 02.11.2010

I was fortunate to have been able to, briefly, fly the O-1E when CAP got some in the late 60's and early 70's. We had to retrofit some of the old-style ARC avionics but the airframes and engines were in A+ condition. A fine airplane, in all respects but one has to really know the aircraft to do it safely!

Chuck Galbach, 30.10.2010

I flew the O-1 (and O-2) at Danang, 67-68, as a FAC and 20th TASS test pilot. I thought the O-1 was just great for FAC'ing (actually better than the O-2) and fun to fly. Very maneuverable, good visibility, reliable, good angle of climb for getting out of a tight spot and not as noisy as the O-2, so you could usually hear ground fire. The E's and G's had a fixed prop that you could hang on during climbout, giving a steep climb angle for getting out of little dirt strips. The F's had a variable pitch prop and though a couple knots faster, didn't allow you to hang on the prop quite like the fixed pitch ones. Had to deadstick one into Danang on a test hop - very fine sand at Hue Phu Bai getting thru the oil soaked type air intake filter had killed the engine with only 150 hrs on it. But otherwise, just a great airplane.

Paul Dodd, 21.10.2010

I am the proud owner of a Birddog that I recovered from Vietnam in 1980 and since rebuilding this aircraft back to it's original specs I have flown over a 1,000 hours in it.
The original US Army number is 116903 and would like to hear from anyone that may have flown her during her time in Vietnam.

I agree with the above comment she is noisy and reliable and just the best aeroplane to fly.


Ken Orton, 20.10.2010

Flew this aircraft for four months in VN over the delta as a Jade Fac and in other areas that "we didn't go". It was the ideal aircraft for the job. In another of the VN disasters we turned this A/C over to the VNAF. The ones I trained in Vung Tau would rarely fly due to clouds, etc. so they basically sat and rotted. I was hoping for an ungrade to the OV-10 but got stuck with the O-2.

Glen Gibson, 17.10.2010

Took basic flight training in the L-19 at Gary AFB Tx -class 55L. Flew L-19s three years in Germany(56-59) and returnred to Ft Rucker to be a B phase instructor in the Birddog. Flew into every short strip,road and some hillsides in the Wiregrass coumntry. The bird never missed a beat for me or my many students. Great little airplane! I flew in one here at the Estralla Wardirds Museum, Paso Robles, CA last year.(2009) It was a 1950 model and flew well. Wish I owned one today.

Steve Laurance, 14.10.2010

I flew the Bird Dog in VN 1968-1969 in the Central Highlands. Ideal for a FAC airplane. I'd trim it up & use the rudders. Needed both hands free for using 3 radios & writing on the windscreen. The old bird brought me back safely everytime.

James Greer, 13.10.2010

Many hrs in the old girl. 74th RAC VN in 67.

Bob Moravek, 11.10.2010

Flew the L19 starting Jan 58 Class 58-10. Fun Airplane. 60 degrees of flaps, could land it anywhere.

Frank Vranicar, 07.10.2010

I own a TL-19A, bureau number 17384 which saw most of it's active career at Ft. Rucker, Germany and back to Rucker. It surplused to the California CAP and was sold at auction about 1983 for $13.000. I am the second owner since then.
Take a look at the International Bird Dog Association web site at IBDAweb.

Russ Vaughn, 23.09.2010

I went to flight school in the L-19 (later the O-1) in 1958, flew the "dog" in Germany from 1960-1963, at Ft Sill and was the CO of the 184th RAC in PhuLoi RVN in 1968. One of the toughest and best airctaft I have ever had the pleasure to fly. I retired with over 10,000 hours and about 3,000 in the bird dog.

Ralph McRae, 22.09.2010

I flew the O-1 over 1,300 hrs in the 199th RAC and it never let me down. I was disappointed not to get the OV-1 or U-21 but by the end of my tour I would not have traded the O-1 for any other aircraft in VN.

Bob Kaplan, 21.09.2010

My first experience with the L-19 was as a crew chief at Zahns Airport,NY , New York Army National Guard AMP1. I got to fly it with some pilot buddies, Ed Armstrong, Harry Seavey, John Reardon. Next towing gliders for the Doyle brothers in Salem, NH when my son soloed in gliders at 15. It would pull anything you could hook onto it.

Bill Burns, 20.09.2010

I flew in this aircraft as a backseater in the Second Infantry Division Aviation Company (Prov) in 1953. We flew out of the Hunt-Murphy Airstrip on the Central front (I forget the military designation). Strip was named after two members of the 7th Infantry Division killed on a mission. This aircraft was perfect for recon and FO missions. Would love to find a desktop model but haven't had any luck..Any help with that?

Jerry Reed, 13.09.2010

What great memories of the little ole birddog. Flew 395 combat missions in II Corps in 1967-68. Bao Loc was home base but occasionly flew into Ban Me Thout, Dalat, Gia Nia, Pleiku and Nha Trang. Walt 70 was the call sign. Great memories of January-February 1968.

Ward P Britt, 25.08.2010

Trail 64 in Quang Tri 1967-8 Great bird and very dependable. Wish I owned one now.

1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120

Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?

Name    E-mail


All the World's Rotorcraft

Virtual Aircraft Museum

All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com Avitop.com