(above photo taken 6 Oct 2010)
|Type:||Observation & Communication|
|Length:||29' 9"||9.07 M|
|Height:||9' 4"||2.84 M|
|Wingspan:||38' 2"||11.63 M|
|No. of Engines:||2|
|Powerplant:||Continental IO-360C (and D)|
|Max Speed:||199.00 Mph||320.00 Km/H||172.97 Kt|
In 1967, the Air Force completed an exhaustive search for an improved observation aircraft to replace the aging O-1 aircraft used by Forward Air Controllers in Vietnam. Already on the production line, the Cessna 337 Super-Skymaster was a popular twin-engine, four-seat general aviation aircraft with a unique push-pull design. Engines mounted on the forward and rear of the fuselage gave the C-337 the extra power and reliability of two engines while retaining the advantage of centerline thrust and a high wing, making it an excellent platform for observation missions. Minor alterations, the installation of a gun sight, under-wing pylons, a smoke generator; glass panels in the lower starboard door and a loud speaker for psychological warfare and the C-337 was transformed into the inexpensive and versatile O-2 Skymaster.
Skymasters were widely used for reconnaissance, target identification, damage assessment and air to ground coordination. Several O-2 aircraft were equipped with three 600 Watt amplified speakers and leaflet pods for psychological warfare operations. In-service modifications gave some O-2s the capability to carry light weapons, such as rockets, bombs and mini-guns.
The museums 0-2B serial number 67-21465, was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft, Wichita, KS, and delivered to the USAF on 18 Jan 1967. It was the 26th 0-2B off the assembly line out of only 31 produced. 67-21465 was used for psychological warfare operations, dropping leaflets with many different messages, some instructional, but mostly warnings of impeding defoliation flights or exhortations to enemy troops to lay down their arms. O-2 67-21465 was also equipped with a 300 lb 1800 watt amplified speaker system. Particularly effective, the O-2s engaged in psychological warfare operations were frequent targets for enemy ground fire.
After service in Vietnam, the museums 0-2B, serial number 67-21465, was assigned to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. In October of 1973, 67-21465 was re-called to active duty to fly with the 163rd Tactical Air Support Group of the California Air National Guard. In 1975, the 163rd TASG moved to March Air Force Base in Riverside, California. By 1982, 0-2B 21465 was fully retired from United States Air Force with a total of 4,696 flight hours, and a bad case of metal fatigue. In June of 2000, 0-2B 67-21465 was brought into the Adopt-an-Aircraft Program by Civilian Volunteer and Aircraft Restoration Crew Chief/Historian Craig Clary. 67-21465 remains the property of the USAF on loan to the March Field Air Museum.
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According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the museum's O-2B has the following history:
O-2A, s/n 67-21465, was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft, Wichita, KS, and delivered to the USAF on 18 Jan 1967. , (according to paper work at Cessna this aircraft was actually built as an 0-2A s/n 33700505, but was later reconverted into an 0-2B variant) It was the 26th 0-2B off the assembly line out of 31 total produced. This is a model 337.
Sep 1967 - To 14th Air Commando Wing, 5th Air Commando Squadron (PACAF), Nha Trang AB SVN (assignments to Tan Son Nhut AB SVN). Arrival date of 4 Sept 1967 with 315.3 aircraft hours.
June 1969 - To 14th Air Special Operations Wing (PACAF), Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam. (deployments to Nha Trang AB SVN)
July 1969 - To Nha Trang Air Base in South Vietnam
Oct 1969 - Unit moved to Phan Rang AB SVN (assignments to Bien Hoa AB SVN)
Aug 1971 - To 315th Tactical Airlift Wing (PACAF), Phan Rang AB SVN
Jan 1972 -To 77th Combat Support Group (PACAF),Tan Son Nhut AB SVN. (deployments to Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam).
Feb 1972 - To Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, Tucson, AZ. The aircraft arrived with 2712.2 flight hours on the air frame.
Jan 1973 - To Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area OK
Apr 1973 - To 111th Ogden Air Logistics Group (Air National Guard), Willow Grove NAS, PA.
Mar 1975 - To 163rd Tactical Air Support Group (ANG), Ontario AP CA. There were a total of 23 0-2A's and only one 0-2B, with this unit at this time. Later, the 163rd TASG transitioned from 0-2A's and the 0-2B to F-4 Phantoms. The transition took a full year to complete.
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In 1975, the 163rd TASG moved to March Air Force Base in Riverside, California. In 1982, 0-2B 21465 was fully retired from United States Air Force service with a total of 4,696 flight hours on the air frame, and a bad case of metal fatigue in it's wing structure. In June of 2000, 0-2B 21465 was brought into the Adopt-an-Aircraft Program by Civilian Volunteer and Aircraft Restoration Crew Chief/Historian Craig Clary.
Below is a list of all known serial numbers of U. S. Air Force 0-2B (Variant) Super Skymaster Aircraft. All but six (numbers 1, 20, 21, 22, 23, 31) of the 31 aircraft on this list served in Vietnam and are Combat Veteran Aircraft.
18. 67-21457 (aircraft was lost in combat)
25. 67-21464 (aircraft was lost due to ground accident)
26. 67-21465 (Currently located at March Field Air Museum)
Below is an additional listing of O-2B aircraft specifications:
Military Specifications For The 0-2B Super Skymaster
Manufactured: Cessna Aircraft Wichita, Kansas
Official Name: Super Skymaster
Type: Twin Engine/High-Wing Monoplane
Total Number Built: 31
Branch of Service: United States Air Force
Wing Span: 38 Feet 0 Inches
Length: 29 Feet 9 Inches
Height: 9 Feet 5 Inches
Weight (empty): 3,268 pounds
Weight (fully loaded): 4,200 pounds
Number of Engines: 2
Front Engine: IO-360-C Continental Engine
Rear Engine: 10-360-D Continental Engine
Engine Oil: 38 pounds
Main Fuel Tanks: 528 pounds
Main Fuel & Auxiliary Tanks: 732 pounds
Glide Ratio: 10.9:1
Seats: 4 (I Pilot, 3 Passengers)
Radio Frequency Channels: 7,000
Primary Mission: Psychological Warfare
Psychological Warfare Equipment: Leaflet Dispenser, 1800 watt Speaker System
External Provisions: None
Internal Provisions: 2 M-16 Assault Rifles
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In 2006, the picture below was found in Chapter 11 of a book, "Cessna Warbirds" by Walt Shiel , that shows the museum's O-2B in flight.