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.
| ENGINE||1 x Continental O-470-11 flat-six piston engine, 159kW|
| Take-off weight||1089 kg||2401 lb|
| Empty weight||732 kg||1614 lb|
| Wingspan||10.97 m||36 ft 0 in|
| Length||7.85 m||26 ft 9 in|
| Height||2.22 m||7 ft 3 in|
| Wing area||16.16 m2||173.94 sq ft|
| Max. speed||209 km/h||130 mph|
| Range||853 km||530 miles|
|richard yettner, 16.08.2010|
Crew Chief on O-1s for Trail 60-68 FACs at LaVang, Quang Tri RVN, 68-69. Easy to maintain. Loved em.
|Harold F Smith, LtCol, USAFRET, 20.07.2010|
I'm looking for information on the K-46 Hycon camera unit that attached to the L-19 and was used for recon in Korea?
Any help would be appreciated.
LtCol, USAF RET
|Walter Duke, 09.07.2010|
I flew the L-19 at Fort Sill OK. in 1953 which was the Army Aviation School at that time. Graduated in Jan 1954. Flew it in Alaska 1954-1956 Floats and Ski's, Fort Knox, KY 56-60, Germany 60-63, Fort Benning 63-65.
|Tom Cartier, 10.05.2010|
Floyd get ahold of me if you want. I would love to chat about our times at the Fort Bliss flying club. Tom Cartier, Sacramento CA.
I have 100 or so hours in Army 52-12104 that used to be at the Fort Bliss Flying Club, N201FM. Learned to fly tail draggers in this Aircraft. Floyd Tiemann instructor!!
|LLOYD MORGAN, 17.02.2010|
Great a/c. Primary flt.tng in the Army 1960,flew for the 220th RAC in RVN 1967 till wounded, flew the 305A for the North Carolina Forest Service from 1982 to 2008. Have well over 4,000 hours in this wonderful bird. Also flew it on floats while stationed in Alaska. Wish I had my own Birddog.
|B. WATTS, 10.02.2010|
ARMY TOLD ME I WAS AN AIRCRAFT MECHANIC AFTER COMPLETING MECHANIC SCHOOL AT GARY AIRFORCE BASE IN EARLY 1954. WE NEW THE L-19 FROM SAFTY WIRE ON THE PROP TO GREASING THE TAIL WHEEL. WOUND UP AT FT. HUACHUCA, 90TH TART, FIRST AIRPLANE THAT I WORKED ON WAS A L-20. BIG DIFFRENCE. L-19 DIDN'T REQUIRE MUCH MAINT. CLEAN OR CHANGE THE SPARK PLUGS, GET RID OF THE MAG DROP, PICK CACTUS OUT OF THE LEADING EDGE OF THE WINGS...GET RABIT HAIR OFF THE LANDING GEAR AND SUCH. DIDN'T TEACH US MUCH ABOUT THAT TIPE OF COMBAT..WE MOUNTED ALL SORTS OF COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT, BOMB SHAKLES FOR DROPING FLARES, AND SOME OTHER SPOOKY STUFF. THE SIGNAL CORE SURE KNEW HOW TO KEEP US BUSY. EVER TRY TO TAXI ONE ON P.S.P.? TAIL WHEEL JUST FITS IN THE HOLES. MAKES FOR A BUMPY RIDE.
|Hector Casanova, 02.02.2010|
The Bird dog is one of the most underated "warbirs" of the RVN war. When I was a proud member of the 74th RAC in 1970, most missions were flown in Cambodia without an observer. I fired very few rockets from our birds; howver I became very profficient in marking targets with smoke granades and calling in artillery. During my tour, I was told that our unit inflicted more casualties to the NVA that any other unit in the Brigade, which was mostly composed of helicopter units. The O-1 was an ecellent platform for directing fire and could stay aloft for over 4 hours. That old O-470 was as noisy as it was reliable!
|Fred Edwards, 31.01.2010|
My Dad flew the L19 in the 50s and early 60s. He went to flight school in ’56. My earliest memories of the airplane and him were when he flew it in the early 60s w/ a USAR unit before they (the acft) were shipped off to VN. He used to get it during drill weekends, buzz the house (too cool), then land at a local airport and sneak me and my brother on board (backseat, side-by-side under the lap belt) and take us up for rides. I was about 7 at the time and loved it!! I too became an Army Aviator (RW), serving in the 80s and 90s. To me, the L19 had a unique smell about it – must’ve been the combination of cigarette smoke, AVGAS, canvas, and metal. Would occasionally get that same smell in a helicopter and immediately have “flashbacks” of the old L19 and being 7 again! To all you that read this and flew the Birddog thank you for your loyal service.
|Richard Davis, 29.01.2010|
I too jo[ned the 221St in May 67 in Soc Trang. Went to 4th platoon in Bac Lieu for experience then to Camau as Shotgun 45. Loved the Bird Dog and it got me back everytime, except once. Saved my bird but damaged a wing. Then a cable broke as it was being hauled back to Soc Trang-- destoyed. Later commanded the Red Knights in Vinh Long.
|Frank Allen, 28.01.2010|
I was an instructor in the O-1 and the U-6 at Fort Rucker in 1964-66 then flew the O-1 in the 221st RAC in Viet Nam from March 66-March 67, then to Germany where I flew it from May 67 to Aug 68 totaling over three thousand hours in the aircraft. To me the beauty of the O-1 was that you could, with the aid of a good headwind and the 60 degree flaps, put it down in less than 200 feet. I have done it many times. It is a great aircraft and I am very glad to see so many of them still flying. Now days computers fly most aircraft, but the birddog-you flew it!
|Donald Smith, CW3, US Army (Re, 28.01.2010|
Spent 5 years as a crew chief on the L-19 and TL-19 then went on to become an aviator and maint. officer and instructor. Served with the Bird Dogs in the 221st Avn Co based in Soc Trang during '65 - '66 had an interesting time flying tail number 2980, an aircraft that I crewed in Germany with the 24th Avn Bn. Would like to know what happened to that one and to 55-4707 another of my babies.
|Bob Gee LTC USA (Ret), 28.01.2010|
I logged over 1,000 hours in an O-1 over the Delta in RVN in 1966. We had a few AF facs who supported the Provencial VN effort and they did a great job. Most the bird dogs in country were Army. We supported Special Forces, US and Viet Namese ground forces and Navy riverine operations with combat air, including USAF, Navy, and Army Gunships; Naval gunfire, artillary, and visual reconnaisance.
|Ned Moore, 28.01.2010|
My Flight Class was OFWAC 66-2-Green Hats-aka-"Green Dragons". In RVN, with the 221st RAC '66-'67 from Tra Vinh. Our Co HQ was based at Soc Trang and we were scattered all over the Delta, Flying L-19D/O-1Ds. I flew 57-2839. If anyone has info on her whereabouts, I would appreciate the info. She is not listed as Destroyed in Minard Thompson: "The Lovable One-Niner". She carried her two seven-shot rocket pods with grace, style and accuracy (as much as the rockets would allow) - requiting herself in every scrap we happened "to find".
Thanks, Shotgun 15
|Frank Caldwell, 25.01.2010|
I flew the O-1 in 1967 Fixed Wing Flight School, and again in 1971 with the 74th Reconnaissance Airplane Company (RAC), which I think was the last active Bird Dog Company in the Army. I also became an O-1 instructor at Ft. Rucker, AL. It was a great observation aircraft, and once you learned it's habits, you could perform amazing feats of airmanship.
|Chuck Nesejt, 23.01.2010|
I flew the O-1 Bird Dog as a FAC in Vietnam's Quang Tri providence in 68 and 69. Logged about 1000 hours and many missions. It was a great platform for the mission I was conducting which was support for the 1st ARVN Division in Quang Tri. I finished my tour in 4 Corps at Vinh Long. If I had to go back, I would pick the )-1 again.
|John Coleman, 22.01.2010|
The Bird Dog was still the Army Primary Flight Trainer in 1965 when I went through the program with the Red Hats...then flew it in Aschaffenburg, Germany between Vietnem tours (U-6A and then U-21)...great aircraft!
|Scott Boyd, 21.01.2010|
I flew Bird Dogs for a couple of years with the CAP in Colorado in the early 70's. It was a good mountain plane with the seaplane propeller.
|Harry Brodock, 18.01.2010|
Flew A and E-Models in SEA in 1970. Worked all 4 Corps, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Was a Trail, Barky, Raven, Quail, Bird Dog, and others for over 100 missions. Started off in Bien Hoa, Tan Son Nhut, Cam Ranh, Phu Cat, Di Ahn, Lai Khe, Takhli, Song Be, Hue, Ban Me Thout, and a couple of dirt strips East of Vientanne. Nice to have a bird that had anti-ground-loop built into the landing gear. Because of the way the pitot system was designed, could get the bird down to zero indicated airspeed, make turns and still stay level at 2000 ft AGL. Went from there to the O-2, and had 202 missions before going back to the KC-135.
|charlie tedder, 08.01.2010|
i was a 68g20 at phu loi vietnam. 74th recon. patched a million bullet holes on these little darlings. i always enjoyed flying siagon mortor watch with w/o gene spivey. i think he was a texas boy. hope you are doing ok mr. spivey where ever you are.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?