On July 16, 1965, the OV-10A Bronco flew its first test flight. The Bronco was a multi-purpose, light attack aircraft developed under an Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps tri-service program. The USAF acquired the OV-10 primarily as a forward air control aircraft, but it also performed observation, helicopter escort, reconnaissance, gunfire spotting, personnel transport and ground attack. Faster and more tactically versatile than helicopters, yet slower and more maneuverable than jets, the Bronco utilized tactics not possible with either.
The OV-10 Bronco, a forward air controller aircraft, flies on its maiden flight August 1968 in South Vietnam during a 90-day period of combat evaluation. The OV-10 performs the same mission as the O-1 and O-2 FAC aircraft, to identify and mark targets for tactical fignter-bomber air strikes. The aircraft was assigned to the 19th TASS. (U.S. Air Force photo/National Museum of the USAF)
The Bronco was highly effective against guerilla and conventional forces due to its capability to find and hit battlefield targets close to friendly troops. The OV-10 was equipped with seven external store stations and four 7.62 mm guns installed in the sponsons. A variety of conventional ordnance could be delivered in addition to 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The seven external store stations consisted of four sponson store stations, one centerline station and two external wing stations. Sponson accessibility provided rapid loading of stores and ammunition. The wing stations could carry the LAU-7/A launcher for mounting either rocket packages or missiles. The centerline store station also had the capability of carrying either a 20 mm gun pod or a 150-, 230- or 300-gallon external fuel tank.
Removal of the armament sponsons and the back seat with its associated armor enabled a quick and simple conversion to a civil action configuration, which permitted the carrying of 3,200 pounds (1,452 kilograms) of cargo in the aft fuselage.
For operation in remote areas, the Bronco had a specially designed rough field landing gear, required no ground equipment for starting and could be maintained with simple handtools. In the event of an emergency, the Bronco could use high-octane or automotive fuel in place of jet fuel with only a slight degradation of power.
The first USAF OV-10As destined for combat arrived in Vietnam on July 31, 1968. A total of 157 OV-10As were delivered to the USAF before production ended in April 1969.
Span: 40 feet (12.2 meters)
Length: 41 feet 7 inches (12.7 meters)
Height: 15 feet 1 inch (4.6 meters)
Weight: Empty: 7,190 pounds (3,261 kilograms); maximum take-off gross weight: 14,444 pounds (6,552 kilograms)
Power plant: Two Garrett-AiResearch turboprop engines, T76-G-412 and T76-G-413, 715 shaft horsepower each
Maximum speed at sea level: 244 knots (452 kilometers/hour)
Range: 700 nautical miles (1,297 kilometers) with internal fuel; 1,200 nautical miles (2224 kilometers) with 150-gallon (568-liter) drop tank
Service ceiling: 28,800 feet (8,778 meters)
Crew: One pilot and one observer (removable rear seat for greater fuselage cargo capacity)
Sources compiled from Air Force History Support Office and Boeing Co.