Built by Cessna in 1967, this aircraft was accepted by the US Air Force in 1968. It served in Vietnam, although it is currently unknown with what units. It returned to CONUS and served with the Michigan Air National Guard in Battle Creek. When it was surplus to requirements, it went into storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, until it was sold to a private owner. The Shafers are it’s second owners since it was released from Air Force inventory.
The O-2A aircraft was the military variant of the civilian Cessna 337 Skymaster. It was selected to supplement the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog aircraft in VietNam and Southeast Asia. The Air Force took delivery of approximately five hundred O-2A and O-2B aircraft from 1967 to 1970. The O-2B was a Psychological Warfare aircraft. The O-2A was equipped for Forward Air Control (FAC) missions, including visual reconnaissance, enemy target identification, target marking, air to ground coordination and damage assessment reporting. In combat it was equipped with 2 pylons under each wing. A normal ordnance load was two rocket pods with seven 2.75 in. rockets each and two 7.62mm minigun packs. Or they could also carry flares and other light ordnance. Special electronics equipment permitted the pilot to locate an enemy target, mark the target site with 2.75 in. white phosphorous smoke rockets and coordinate air strikes by fighter-bomber aircraft. It could also be fitted with a KB-18 strike camera, for daylight, low level photography.
In Vietnam and Southeast Asia, FACs were the ground troops link to the outside world. The FAC was at
“the tip of the spear”, looking for the enemy, marking their location and directing attack aircraft and artillery against them. When necessary, the FAC coordinated combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions. The missions were normally flown at low altitude; therefore they were often within small-arms range. More than 104 O-2 aircraft were lost in total, 82 of those in combat in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. This very aircraft was flown in combat.
It is now in its second career of service to the nation, as a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Aircraft. It is flown on U.S. Coast Guard missions such as Maritime Observation Missions, Air Intercept Training missions, Search and Rescue missions and Logistics Transport missions, among others.
|Registration Number||Date of Manufacture|
|Forward Air Controller||Mixmaster, Push-Pull, Duck, Suck-Blow, BS Bomber,|
|Cessna O-2 Skymaster||38 feet 0 inches|
|Overall length:||Empty weight:|
|29 feet 2 inches||3,200 pounds (nominal)|
|Gross weight:||Fuel capacity:|
|4,850 pounds||122 Gallons, 732 Lbs.|
|Oil capacity||Engine type:|
|10 Qt. per engine||Two, Continental IO-360-D piston engines, 210 BHP rating at 2800 RPM|
|Propeller type:||Max Speed|
|McCauley, two blade, constant speed, full feathering||192 KIAS|
|Rate of Climb||Cruise Speed|
|1,180 ft/min nominal at Max Gross Weight||140 KIAS clean, 133 KIAS w/ external stores|
|Service Ceiling||Number of Crew|
|17,000 feet||Two Crew, Two passengers|
|Under Wing Rockets, Flares, 7.62mm Minigun Packs||None|
|Number Built||Number Surviving|
|544||Approximately 25 or so|
This aircraft was restored by the the craftsmen at Aircraft Customizing, principally John Russman, and by owner, Robert Shafer. Both engines and propellers have been overhauled or replaced with overhauled units. The original radio rack was removed and more modern radios installed. The aircraft still has expanded communications capability including VHF-FM and UHF radios, in addition to the conventional VHF-AM aviation band radios. Switching to contemporary radio equipment from the circa 1960s radios provided additional cargo room and reduced the empty weight by hundreds of pounds.
Printable QR Codes for: Bob and Sue Shafer’s Cessna O-2A Fighting Skymaster:
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