The Cessna O-2A is a militarized version of Cessna’s civilian Model 337 light twin-engine business aircraft. The unusual “push-pull” engine layout was intended to provide the benefits of a two-engine aircraft without the dangers of a conventional twin that arise when one engine fails. The first flight of the 337 in January of 1961 led to nearly two hundred civilian sales by 1965. At that time the original fixed-gear version gave way to a retractable-gear aircraft. It was this upgraded version that the U.S. Air Force selected in December 1966 to serve as a Forward Air Controller or FAC in Vietnam. Basically, identical with the civil version except for the addition of four hard points on the wings for minigun and rocket pods, and the addition of windows in the lower fuselage for the observer. The O-2 entered service in 1967 and proved to be very successful in Vietnam. Primarily used to direct air strikes, some Skymaster’s were also equipped with loudspeakers and special radios for psychological warfare. The O-2 remained in service with the Air Force until the early 1980s when the last of them were retired.
602nd Tactical Control Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, 1977
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