O-2 Skymaster: Wikis


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O-2 Skymaster
An O-2 Skymaster
Role Observation aircraft
Manufacturer Cessna
First flight January 1967
Primary users United States Air Force
Vietnam Air Force
Royal Thai Navy
Number built 532
Developed from Cessna Skymaster

The O-2 Skymaster (also known as the "Oscar Deuce" or "The Duck") is a military version of the Cessna 337 Super Skymaster. The United States Air Force commissioned Cessna to build a military variant to replace the O-1 Bird Dog in 1966.


Design and development

As with the civilian version, the Skymaster was a low cost twin-engine piston powered aircraft, with one engine in the nose of the aircraft and a second engine in the rear of the fuselage. The push-pull configuration meant a simpler one-engine operating procedure compared to the common low-wing mounting of most twin engine light planes, and also allowed for a high wing, that was judged to be useful for clear observation below and behind the aircraft. The Skymaster would eventually be replaced in the forward air control (FAC) mission by the OV-10 Bronco and the A-37 Dragonfly, and those aircraft would be replaced, in turn, by the A-10 Thunderbolt II.[1]

The first O-2 flew in January 1967 and the plane went into production shortly thereafter, with the USAF taking delivery in March 1967. A total of 532 O-2s were built in two variants for the USAF by 1970. The O-2A served as a FAC aircraft, while the O-2B was equipped with loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser for use in the psychological operations (PSYOPS) role. Several USAF O-2 aircraft were later transferred to and operated by the former VNAF South Vietnamese Air Force.[1]

Following the Vietnam War, the O-2 continued to operate with both U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard units well into the late 1980s. Six former USAF O-2A airframes were also transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1983 for use as "range controllers" with Attack Squadron 122 (VA-122), the Pacific Fleet Replacement Squadron for the A-7 Corsair II at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. These same aircraft were later transferred to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), the F/A-18 Hornet FRS at NAS Lemoore, in 1986 for use in the same range control role.[2]

The six Navy O-2A's remained in this role until September 1990, when they were replaced by T-34C Turbo Mentor aircraft transferred from the Naval Air Training Command. Four of the Navy O-2A aircraft were retired and two of these became civil registered in October 1991. These two aircraft were flown in U.S. airshows performing a "Viet Nam Warbird COIN/FAC" routine during the 1990s. The routine debuted at the "Wings Over Houston" (Texas) airshow in October 1991.[citation needed]

Of the six USN aircraft mentioned above, two had been transferred to the U.S. Army in late 1990.[2] O-2As had originally entered the U.S. Army's inventory in 1967 from USAF stocks and were augmented by the 1990 aircraft transfer from the U.S. Navy. Today, two O-2As remain flying from Laguna Army Airfield, Arizona as part of testing programs carried out by the Yuma Proving Ground. Although several disassembled USAF O-2s remain on storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, the two Army O-2A at Laguna AAF are the only O-2A aircraft still in active U.S. military service.[2]

Operational history

USAF O-2 Skymaster in flight

A total of 178 USAF O-2 Skymasters were lost in the Vietnam War, to all causes.[3]


Civilian use


In the mid 1970s, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or CAL FIRE, found that the contractor-owned air attack aircraft, mostly single-engine Cessna 182s and Cessna 210s, did not provide the airspeed and safety needed for the department's new air tanker program. In 1974, Senior Air Operations Officer, Cotton Mason, inspected 40 USAF O-2s at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The best 20 were selected and shipped to Fresno, California. These aircraft had been FAC aircraft in Vietnam and were shipped back to the United States in containers, and were disassembled and on pallets when they arrived at Fresno. A crew of California Conservation Corps (CCC) members under the supervision of a CDF Battalion Chief who was an FAA Certificated Mechanic with Inspection Authorization (IA), reassembled the aircraft. They were placed in service in 1976, and successfully served CALFIRE for more than 20 years, until replaced by a fleet of OV-10 Broncos.[4]


An O-2B Skymaster dropping leaflets over Vietnam
Version designed for use in forward air control missions, features ordnance hard points underneath the wings to hold rockets, gun pods or flares. 513 were delivered.[1]
Version designed for psychological warfare, and was equipped with loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser, but otherwise carried no weapons. Thirty-one former civil 337s were converted to O-2Bs.[5]


Preserved Skymaster on the ground in New Jersey, 2008
 El Salvador
 South Korea
 South Vietnam
  • Royal Thai Navy (Forward Air Control/Light Attack six former USAF aircraft)[citation needed]
 United States

Specifications (O-2)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 - pilot and observer
  • Length: 29.75 ft (9.07 m)
  • Wingspan: 38.17 ft (11.63 m)
  • Height: 9.17 ft (2.79 m)
  • Wing area: 202.5 ft² (18.8 m²)
  • Empty weight: 2,848 lb (1,292 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,400 lb (2,448 kg)
  • Powerplant:Continental IO-360C six-cylinder flat engines, 210 hp (157 kW) each


Notable appearances in media

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft


  1. ^ a b c Fact Sheets : Cessna O-2A Skymaster : Cessna O-2A Skymaster
  2. ^ a b c The United States Military Aviation Directory, AIRTime Publishing, Norwalk, CT, c2000, p. 231, ISBN 1-880588-29-3
  3. ^ Hobson, Chris. Vietnam Air Losses, USAF/USN/USMC/ Fixed-Wing Southeast Asia 1961-1973. 2001. ISBN 1-8578-011-56
  4. ^ This section contains public domain material taken from "CDF Aviation Management History", CDF official website, retrieved August 23, 2007
  5. ^ Andrade 1979, page 140
  6. ^ Haiti Air Force


  • Andrade, John (1979). U.S.Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Midland Counties Publications. ISBN ISBN 0 904597 22 9. 

External links


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