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Cessna 0-2 Skymaster



The O-2 Skymaster (also known as the "Oscar Deuce" or "The Duck") is a military version of the Cessna 337 Super Skymaster. The United States Air Force commissioned Cessna to build a military variant to replace the O-1 Bird Dog in 1966.

Type: Observation/FAC aircraft
Crew: 2 (Pilot & observer)
Manufacturer: Cessna
Models: O-2A, O-2B, Reims Cessna 337
  Maiden flight: January 1967
Service Delivery: N/A
Number built: 532+

Specifications: O-2
Powerplant:
 Model: Continental IO-360C
 Type: six-cylinder flat engines
 Number: Two
 Horsepower: 210 hp each

Dimensions:
 Length: 29.75 ft (9.07 m)
 Wingspan: 38.17 ft (11.63 m)
 Height: 9.17 ft (2.79 m)
 Wing area: 202.5 ft (18.8 m)
  Weights:
 Empty: 2,848 lb (1,292 kg)
 Loaded: 5,400 lb (2,448 kg)

Performance:
 Maximum speed: 200 mph (322 kph)
 Cruise Speed: N/A
 Range: 1,325 mi (2,132 km)
 Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,490 m)
 Rate of climb: 1,180 ft/min (6 m/s)


Design and Development:

As with the civilian version, the Skymaster was a low cost twin-engine piston powered aircraft, with one engine in the nose of the aircraft and a second engine in the rear of the fuselage. The "push-me pull-you" arrangement meant a simpler one-engine operating procedure compared to the common low-wing mounting of most twin engine light planes, and also allowed for a high wing, that was judged to be useful for clear observation below and behind the aircraft. The Skymaster would eventually be replaced in the forward air control (FAC) mission by the
OV-10 Bronco and the A-37 Dragonfly, and those aircraft would be replaced, in turn, by the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The first O-2 flew in January 1967 and the plane went into production shortly thereafter, with the USAF taking delivery in March 1967. A total of 532 O-2s were built in two variants for the USAF by 1970. The O-2A served as a FAC aircraft, while the O-2B was equipped with loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser for use in the psychological operations (PSYOPS) role. Several USAF O-2 aircraft were later transferred to and operated by the former VNAF South Vietnamese Air Force.

Following the Vietnam War, the O-2 continued to operate with both U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard units well into the late 1980s. Several former USAF O-2A airframes were also transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1983 for use as "range controllers" with Attack Squadron ONE TWENTY-TWO (VA-122), the Pacific Fleet Replacement Squadron for the A-7 Corsair II at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. These same aircraft were later transferred to Strike Fighter Squadron ONE TWENTY-FIVE (VFA-125), the F/A-18 Hornet FRS at NAS Lemoore in 1986 for use in the same range control role. The Navy O-2s remained in this role until September 1990, when they were replaced by T-34C Turbo Mentor aircraft transferred from the Naval Air Training Command. Some of the Navy O-2A aircraft were retired, while others were transferred to the U.S. Army.

O-2As originally entered the U.S. Army's inventory in 1977 and were augmented by the 1990 aircraft transfer from the U.S. Navy. Today, two O-2A are all that remain, flying from Laguna Army Airfield, Arizona as part of testing programs carried out by the Yuma Proving Ground. They are the only O-2A aircraft still in active U.S. military service.


Sources:
Wikipedia: O-2 Skymaster