|Year/Model:||1967 OV-10A Bronco|
|Power Plant:||Two 1,050 hp Garrett- AiResearch T76-G-10/-12 turboprops|
|Wingspan:||40 feet 0 inches|
|Length:||41 feet 7 inches|
|Height:||15 feet 2 inches|
|Gross Weight:||14,444 pounds|
|Maximum Speed:||281 mph|
|Maximum Range:||430 to 1,240 statute miles|
|Service Ceiling:||26,000 feet|
|Owner:||Estrella Warbirds Museum|
This particular OV-10A Bronco was built in 1967 and went into service with the USAF under a classified operation at its time, "Pave Nail." Its actual unit assignments are not available. In short, laser guided weaponry had to start sometime and this aircraft made its contributions. In 1992, the Air Force released the plane to the US Bureau of Land Management with c/r N93LM and later spent quite a few years as a fire spotter for the California Department of Forestry. After a "wheels up landing" at the Paso Robles Municipal airport, it was eventually trailered over to the Estrella Warbirds Museum in 2015 where it became an instant "rebuild by the numbers project" as the eager restoration crew gladly pieced it back together and repainted to its military colors. This aircraft has gone through several restorations before its latest rendition which pays tribute to all the OV-10 crews that served in Operation Desert Storm. Looks great to us!
This rugged and cost-effective twin-turboprop short-takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft was conceived by the Marine Corps and developed under a joint USAF, USN, and USMC tri-service program. First production of OV-10As was ordered in 1966, and the plane's initial flight took place on August 6, 1967. Faster and more tactically versatile than helicopters, yet slower and more maneuverable than jets, the Bronco utilized tactics not possible with either.
The Bronco's combat capabilities included observation and photo reconnaissance, forward air control (FAC), helicopter escort, artillery spotting, ground attack, and ambulance — the Air Force acquired the Bronco primarily as a FAC aircraft. Adding to its versatility was the rear fuselage compartment with a capacity of 3,200 pounds of cargo, five combat-equipped soldiers or six paratroopers, or two litter patients and a medical attendant. Weaponry consisted of four M60C 7.62mm machine guns in fuselage sponsons, plus 3,600 lbs of mixed ordnance or external gun pods.
The first OV-10As destined for combat went to Vietnam on July 31, 1968, for Air Force and Marine units, and soon after to the Navy's VAL-4 "Black Ponies" squadron. A total of 271 were built, with 157 delivered to the USAF and 114 to the USMC/USN until production ended in April 1969. In addition, there were exports to West Germany (as OV-10B), Thailand (OV-10C), Venezuela (OV-10E), and Indonesia (OV-10F). OV-10D was 17 conversions as night observers and USMC paratroop carriers.
Manufactured by North American Aviation and North American-Rockwell Corp — unit cost: $480,000.