Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog

Operational History:

The L-19 received the name Bird Dog as a result of a contest held with Cessna employees to name the aircraft. The winning entry, submitted by Jack A. Swayze, an industrial photographer, was selected by a U.S. Army board.[citation needed] The name was chosen because the role of the army's new airplane was to find the enemy and orbit over them until artillery (or attack aircraft) could be brought to bear on the enemy. While flying low and close to the battlefield, the pilot would observe the exploding shells and adjust the fire via his radios, in the manner of a bird dog (Gun dog) used by game hunters.

The Defense Department ordered 3,200 L-19s that were built between 1950 and 1959. The planes were used in various utility roles such as artillery spotting, front line communications, medevac and training. In 1962 the Army L-19 was redesignated the O-1 (Observation) Bird Dog and entered its second war in Vietnam. During the early 1960s the Bird Dog was flown by South Vietnamese airmen (ARVN-Army Republic Vietnam/SVAF South Vietnamese Air Force), US Army aviators, and clandestine (Ravens) aircrews. In 1964 the Department of Defense (DOD) issued a memorandum directing that the U.S. Army turn over its "Fixed Wing" O-1 Bird Dogs to the US Air Force, while the army began its transition to a "rotor-wing" force (helicopters).

The U.S. Army was allowed to retain some O-1 Bird Dogs for artillery observation (spotting/forward air control) until the new army helicopters entered service. All previous operators mentioned above, including the US Army, continued using the O-1 Bird Dog throughout the war, however the bulk of the O-1s were operated by the U.S. Air Force from 1964 until the end of the war in 1975 (flown primarily by South Vietnamese airmen in 1975). During the Vietnam War, the planes were used for reconnaissance and forward air control (FAC). Supplementing the O-1, then gradually replacing it, was the USAF O-2 Skymaster, a faster, twin-engine aircraft which entered Vietnam in the mid 1960s. The last U.S. Army O-1 Bird Dog was officially retired in 1974.

During the course of the Vietnam War, 469 O-1 Bird Dogs were lost to all causes. The USAF lost 178, the USMC lost seven, and 284 were lost from the US Army, South Vietnamese Forces, and clandestine operators. Three Bird Dogs were lost to enemy surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

As USAF phased out the O-1 in favor of the O-2, many O-1s in the United States were sold as surplus. During the 1970s and 80s, Ector Aircraft remanufactured many as the Ector Mountaineer with their original poewrplants and as the Ector Super Mountaineer with the Lycoming O-540-A4B5.

while a number of them were turned over to the Civil Air Patrol for such duties as aerial search. Many of these were damaged in groundloops and other accidents, and eventually all were replaced by tricycle-gear Cessnas. The only O-1 remaining in CAP inventory is a static display on a post in front of CAP headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base.

In Canada, the Royal Canadian Air Cadets use L-19 aircraft equipped with a towing rig to tow their Schweizer 2-33 gliders for the Air Cadet gliding program. These particular L-19 variants are used in the Atlantic Region, Eastern Region and Pacific regions. They have been modified for noise reduction by the use of a smaller-diameter, 4-blade Hoffman composite propeller and exhaust modification. The fuel delivery system has also been modified from the original design, placing the fuel selector valve closer to the pilot. As with most aircraft used for glider towing, the aircraft has also been outfitted with mirrors mounted to the struts.

Notable Flights:

On April 29, 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force Major Bung-Ly loaded his wife and five children into a two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and took off from Con Son Island. After evading Viet Cong arms fire Major Bung-Ly headed out to sea and spotted the USS Midway aircraft carrier. With only an hour of fuel remaining, he dropped a note asking that the runway be cleared so that he could land. Knowing there was no room for this to happen, Rear Admiral Lawrence Chambers ordered that US$10 Millon worth of Huey UH-1 helicopters be pushed overboard into the South China Sea. The Bird Dog that Major Bung-Ly landed is now on display at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

Wikipedia: O-1 Bird Dog