The Birddog

Birddog and PilotBirddog and Pilot

The 184th RAC flew the O1-G model Birddog. We knew it as the toughest dog in the fight. Pilots of the 184th flew a varied array of missions. Primary missions were artillery adjustment, placement of Air Force air strikes, recon, radio relay, support of Special Forces, and support of Long Range Recon patrols.

Most pilots flew missions every day during their in country assignments with many flying 1300 hours or better and earning more than 20 Air Medals.

The O1-G is atough and reliable and is a very special aircraft. In response to requests from the U.S. Army for an improved Liaison aircraft after WWII, the Cessna Aircraft Company developed plans, tooled up, and began manufacturing this airplane. The first model 305 was delivered to the Army in December of 1950. The Army liked it, designated it the L-19 (Liaison), and named it the “Birddog”. Many L-19’s were immediately deployed to the war in Korea. Others were sent to Army and National Guard units in other areas. Years later, Birddogs were sent to Vietnam and used in various combat roles by the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. By then the designation had been changed to O-1 (Observation). The enemy feared the presence of the Birddog because it forewarned of bad things to come. The Birddog could stay on station and rain down destruction on an enemy for hours having an unlimited supply of ordinance. This unlimited supply came from the Army Artillery units firing at the direction of the Arial observer

Around 3400 of these Warbirds were built by Cessna over a ten-year period.

The basic Birddog is a 2100 pound (loaded), high wing tandem seat aircraft with an all metal skin and a six cylinder Continental engine providing the muscle to swing the big 90 inch prop. Birddogs with a fixed pitch prop had the 213 HP O-470-11 engine. Those with the constant speed prop were powered by the 213 HP O-470-15. With a 36 foot wing span, conventional gear (tail wheel), 60 degrees of flaps and power to spare, this work horse could haul two men, gear, a full load of fuel (41 gallons) and up to sixteen 2.75 inch rockets in and out of short runways even at higher elevations. With it’s excellent fuel economy, the Birddog can remain on station (at low power settings) for up to four and a half hours.

This is a rare copy of what we called the Dash Ten or -10 which is the operator and crew member  manual for the Birddog.  This copy is courtesy of the 73rd Aviation Company, a sister Birddog Unit.  Click on the link below to view and or download a copy of this manual. It’s a pretty big .pdf file so it may take a little time to open.