In 1967, the Air Force chose the Cessna Model 337 “Super Skymaster” to meet the twin engine Forward Air Controller aircraft requirement.
The “Super Skymaster” was already on the production line when the Air Force awarded the contract. A gun sight was installed along with underwing pylons for smoke rockets. Other modifications included a smoke generator; glass panels in the lower starboard door for increased visibility and a loud speaker for psychological warfare.
The 0-2 was an all metal, four seat business aircraft designed by Cessna to be easy to fly, low in cost, yet still offer the safety and comfort of a twin engine plane. Equipped as forward air control aircraft in Vietnam, Skymasters were used for reconnaissance, target identification, damage assessment and air to ground coordination. Some aircraft were even equipped with three 600 Watt amplified speakers and leaflet pods for psychological warfare operations. The 0-2 had dual controls and could carry many types of light weapons including rockets, flares, bombs and miniguns. The O-2 can fly on either engine by itself and is still popular today among private pilots. Only 31 O-2B’s were ordered from Cessna by the U.S. Air Force.
0-2B 21465 was used for psychological warfare operations (only), dropping leaflets with many different messages, some instructional, but mostly warnings of impeding defoliation flights or exhorted enemy troops to lay down their arms. 21465 was also equipped with a 300 lb 1800 watt amplified speaker system. The effectiveness of the load speaker and leaflets can be judged by the fact that the VC shot at the psywar aircraft more than at any other, except those of Operation Ranch Hand (defoliant C-123s). The VC also banged pots and pans together in hamlet streets to drown out the speakers, and cut off the hands of villagers caught reading the leaflets.
After service in Vietnam, our 0-2B ,serial number 67-21465, was assigned to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, for storage. In October of 1973, our 0-2B was back on duty. Prior to being retired here at the March Field Museum, our 0-2B flew with the 163rd Tactical Air Support Group of the California Air National Guard, flying out of Ontario IAP, CA, before their move to March AFB in 1982. This aircraft is on loan from the USAF.
According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell AFB, AL, the museum’s O-2B has the following history:
O-2A, s/n 67-21465, was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft, Wichita, KS, and delivered to the USAF on 18 Jan 1967. , (according to paper work at Cessna this aircraft was actually built as an 0-2A s/n 33700505, but was later reconverted into an 0-2B variant) It was the 26th 0-2B off the assembly line out of 31 total produced. This is a model 337.
Sep 1967 - To 14th Air Commando Wing, 5th Air Commando Squadron (PACAF), Nha Trang AB SVN (assignments to Tan Son Nhut AB SVN). Arrival date of 4 Sept 1967 with 315.3 aircraft hours.
June 1969 - To 14th Air Special Operations Wing (PACAF), Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam. (deployments to Nha Trang AB SVN)
July 1969 - To Nha Trang Air Base in South Vietnam
Oct 1969 - Unit moved to Phan Rang AB SVN (assignments to Bien Hoa AB SVN)
Aug 1971 - To 315th Tactical Airlift Wing (PACAF), Phan Rang AB SVN
Jan 1972 -To 77th Combat Support Group (PACAF),Tan Son Nhut AB SVN. (deployments to Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam).
Feb 1972 - To Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, Tucson, AZ. The aircraft arrived with 2712.2 flight hours on the air frame.
Jan 1973 - To Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area OK
Apr 1973 - To 111th Ogden Air Logistics Group (Air National Guard), Willow Grove NAS, PA.
Mar 1975 - To 163rd Tactical Air Support Group (ANG), Ontario AP CA. There were a total of 23 0-2A’s and only one 0-2B, with this unit at this time. Later, the 163rd TASG transitioned from 0-2A’s and the 0-2B to F-4 Phantoms. The transition took a full year to complete.
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In 1975, the 163rd TASG moved to March Air Force Base in Riverside, California. In 1982, 0-2B 21465 was fully retired from United States Air Force service with a total of 4,696 flight hours on the air frame, and a bad case of metal fatigue in it’s wing structure.
By kjfitz @ 2007-03-15 22:49:56