The O-1 is a two-place aircraft developed from the commercial Cessna Model 170 in 1949. Originally designated as L-19s, "Bird Dogs" were used by the USAF, Army, and Marines for such tasks as artillery spotting, front-line communications, medical evacuation, and pilot training.
Manufactured by Cessna, the O-1 was the winning design competition entry in April 1950. Powered by a. Continental 213 hp engine, the Army used the Bird Dog for observation, reconnaissance and liaison missions. It had a cruising speed of 100 knots and service ceiling of 18,500 ft. The O-1 was the first all-metal, high-flying observation aircraft in the Army. Everyone felt slightly safer in the all-metal aircraft. Transportation helicopter companies stationed all over the world used the O-1 for administrative functions. Pilots liked it because it was the first aircraft with a heater.
The L-19A [O-1] Bird Dog, both in function and appearance, reflected the origins of Army Aviation. It was first of all an aircraft designed to observe for artillery. Observation for the field artillery was the first function that Army aviators were supposed to perform. The assignment of aircraft to ground units, first authorized on 6 June 1942, was the direct outgrowth of experiments conducted during the Tennessee and Louisiana Desert Maneuvers in 1941. Those experiments tested the idea that light aircraft could provide better observation for artillery adjustment than could heavier, faster aircraft. The first aircraft that the Army adopted for this purpose was the L-4 Grasshopper [Piper "Cub"]. These aircraft carried the first Army aviators into combat from the deck of the USS Ranger on 9 November 1942 as part of the Allied invasion of North Africa. Like its predecessor, the Grasshopper, the Bird Dog could operate and be maintained almost anywhere.
The outbreak of war in Korea led to the Army's acquiring the Bird Dog. In June 1950 the Army got Presidential approval to divert funds originally for buying Piper PA-11s to buy the Cessna 305, which was designated the L-19 and in 1963 the O-1. The L-19A [O-1] Bird Dog proved its value repeatedly in both war and peacetime. During the Korean Conflict, an L-19 provided crucial information that Korean troops had retreated, which exposed the left flank of a Marine unit to the enemy. Perhaps the best aircraft the U.S. ever had for artillery observation, it was essential for assault preparations in Korea. From 1958 until it finally left Army service, the L-19A [O-1] Bird Dog was the only fixed-wing observation aircraft. The O-1 was the aircraft Eisenhower used in Korea to take on his inspection tour after he was elected President in 1952. The O-1 was also used to transport comedian Jack Benny, and actress Marilyn Monroe on USO trips. The aircraft on display in the Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker is the one that General Eisenhower, comedian Jack Benny and actress Marilyn Monroe all used. The Bird Dog was one of those aircraft that just kept proving its adaptability and versatility. Sometimes it amazed people who just didn't think that an aircraft like that ought to be able to do what it did. A XL-19B set an altitude record for light aircraft of 37,063 feet in 1953. On a flight back from East Coast, the pilot of a Bird Dog shocked an air traffic controller when a pilot reported he was flying at 18,000 feet. The Bird Dog's versatility invited the kind of humor that has marked Aviation soldiers from the beginning. In Vietnam, O-1s were used by forward air controllers(FACS) for reconnaissance. A "FAC", often an experienced fighter pilot, was assigned to a specific geographical area, so that he could readily identify enemy activity. If a FAC observed enemy ground targets, he marked them with smoke rockets so they could be easily attacked by fighter-bombers. The FAC remained on the scene to report bombing results.
The USAF ordered more than 3,200 "Bird Dogs," most of which were built as L-19As between 1950 and 1959
Span: 36 ft.
Length: 25 ft. 10 in.
Height: 9 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 2,400 lbs. loaded
Armament: Generally none except smoke rockets
Engine:Continental O-470 of 213 hp.
Propeller:McCauley fixed pitch, twobladed metal propeller.
Maximum speed: 150 mph.
Cruising speed: 115 mph.
Range: 530 miles
Service Ceiling: 20,300 ft.
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