O-1E Bird Dog

In 1950 Cessna won an Army design competition for a light, two-seat liaison and observation aircraft. They mated the wings and tail of one aircraft to a new fuselage with a large windowed "glasshouse" cabin and a 213 horsepower engine. The Army bought this L-19 Bird Dog which served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. A wingspan of 36 feet, length of 25 feet 9.5 inches, height of 7 feet 3.5 inches, a wing area of 174 sq. ft., and three fixed wheels defined this aircraft. Also, it weighed 1,614 pounds empty and 2,400 pounds loaded. Performance characteristics of the original Bird Dog were maximum speed, 151 mph at sea level; cruising speed, 104 mph at 5,000 feet; initial at 1,150 feet per minute; service ceiling, 18,500 feet; and range, 530 miles. Cessna delivered the L-19A in December 1950. An XL-19B with turboprop engine set a light aircraft altitude record of 37,063 feet Nov. 5, 1952. In 1962 the L-9 became the O-1.

The first Air Force version, the O-1F, went to Tactical Air Command and Pacific Air Forces in 1963. Pilot and co-pilot/observer sat in tandem and were protected from ground fire by flak curtains and armored seats. Armament consisted of two .50-caliber machine guns plus six air-to-ground rockets of four target-marking smoke bombs on underwing pylons. Other options included two 250-pound bombs, a chemical spray tank or an aerial container for dropping supplies. Bird Dogs served in Vietnam from 1964 until phased out in 1967-68 in favor of the Cessna O-2s and North American OV-10s. Cessna produced approximately 3,600 of the versatile and very useful O-1s. The manufacturer delivered the Air Park O-1 to the Air Force Oct. 4, 1957.

From 1963 to 1971 O-1s were assigned to Hurlburt Field and utilized in training and exercises. By the end of September 1975, landings and takeoffs at Hurlburt Field exceeded 11,000 monthly.

The O-1E Bird Dog, #56-4208, was delivered to the USAF on October 4, 1957. Immediately thereafter the aircraft was relinquished to the US Army. The aircraft was installed in the Air Park on October 20, 1973.