Cessna L-19 or O-1 Birddog, Army / Air Force Serial No. 51-16963, c/n 22840, Model 305A, was assigned to a National Guard unit.
ABOUT THE O-1 BIRDDOG
The Cessna L-19 or O-1 Birddog is an all-metal observation aircraft. It was the first all-metal fixed-wing aircraft ordered for and by the United States Army following the separation with the Air Force in 1947. The Birddog had a lengthy career in the U.S. military, as well as in many other countries.
During the Vietnam War, the Birddog was used primarily for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment, radio relay, convoy escort, and the forward air control of tactical aircraft, including bombers operating in a tactical role. The aircraft was replaced by newer, faster Cessna O-2 and North American OV-10 aircraft. The Birddog was retired from the military in 1974 but continued to operate for other government agencies and civilians. More than 3,400 were produced with over 300 still flying in civilian hands.
The Cessna L-19 or O-1 Bird Dog was the first all-metal airplane designed for the Army Air Force as an observation aircraft for the Korean War. It was determined at that time that due to its slow speed and lack of armor it was not suited to be a FAC airplane.
At the beginning of the Vietnam War, the Air Force put the L-19 into service as a FAC aircraft as the O-1, even though it was considered unsuitable for that role during the Korean War.
Our “Dawg” will commemorate the first Vietnam War Air Force FACs, the “Red Markers.” The opposite side commemorates the only Air Force O-1 pilot to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Capt. Hillard Willbanks.
Manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft
Length: 25 ft 10 in
Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in
Height: 7 ft 4 in
Empty weight: 1,614 lb
Max takeoff weight: 2,430 lb
Fuel capacity: 41 US gal
Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-470-11 air-cooled flat-six, 213 hp (159 kW)
Maximum speed: 115 mph
Cruise speed: 104 mph
Range: 530 miles
Service ceiling: 18,500 ft
Absolute ceiling: 24,800 ft
Rate of climb: 1,150 ft/min
Take-off distance to 50 ft: 560 ft
Landing distance from 50 ft: 600 ft
Guns: 1× 7.62 mm Lewis Gun (.30-06 Springfield) with 97 rounds
Our Cessna L-19 or O-1 Birddog (Serial No. 51-16963, c/n 22840, Model 305A), was assigned to a National Guard unit. We have a few details. Following 4,706 hours of military flying, it left the military service. Transferred to US Forestry Department in North Carolina as N9623Q (Aircraft #7) in May 1973. It flew to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum in 2011 and remains the only aircraft that has flown to the museum under its own power.
Our aircraft was restored in 2021 by Cowtown Aerocrafters and commemorates two histories:
First, on 24 February 1967, US Air Force pilot Hilliard A. Wilbanks (1933-1967) flew for the 21st TASS protecting American and South Vietnamese troops on the ground by strafing the Vietcong troops using his M16 rifle. He shot his M-16 from the side window of the Birddog. He was shot down by ground fire after the third pass and died on his way to the hospital. He became a Medal Of Honor recipient for his sacrifice.
Second, Red Marker FACs. Red Markers supported the Vietnamese Airborne Division and the Red Hats of US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) Advisory Team 162 from 1962-1973. The aircraft is a tribute to the Air Liaison Officers, Forward Air Controllers, Radio Operators, Crew Chiefs, and Maintenance personnel. Less than 175 men served with the detachment. Five Red Markers lost their lives performing the mission.
Red Markers, Close Air Support for the Vietnamese Airborne, 1962-1975.
Birddog at Propwash still in work. It is being repaired/rebuilt to flying condition for future events and fly-ins for show.
Note: Scheduling is always a moving target depending on weather and workload. All schedules are subject to changes.
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