Pima Air and Space Museum Aircraft
The U-3A is the military variant of the civilian Cessna Model 310. The 310 proved very successful in the civil market and was chosen by the Air Force in 1957 for use as a light utility transport. Initially called the L-25A approximately 160 were ordered in 1957 and 1958, a further 30 were ordered in 1960 with more powerful engines and called L-27B. The designation of these aircraft was changed in 1962 to U-3A and U-3B.
A number of military surplus U-3 aircraft found their way into the hands of civilians and other government agencies after their military service. The Forest Service acquired this aircraft for use as a lead plane in fighting forest fires. The job of a lead plane is to fly ahead of the large fire bombers and safely direct them to their drop points.