T-28, A-37, COIN Aircraft, & OV-10
The strengthened A-37B Dragonfly was similar but for an inflight refueling probe in the nose and full-rated engines. First ordered January 23, 1967, the A-37B appeared in May 1968. Cessna delivered 577 A-37A/B attack planes by 1977, including 302 for the Mutual Aid Program, some for foreign sales, and 134 served ANG and USAF reserve stations at the end of 1975.
The VNAF got 54 A-37Bs from November 1968 to May 1969 and 140 more in 1970/72, while Cambodia got 24. At the war’s end in 1975, 187 remained in service, but five captured A-37Bs bombed Tan Son Nhat airport on April 28, destroying 24 aircraft, and by May, 95 were captured by the NVAF and 92 VNAF A-37Bs escaped, 16 to Thailand and 27 sent to South Korea.
Other countries receiving Dragonflies after 1974 were Chile (34), Ecuador (12), Guatemala (12), Honduras (15), Iran (12), Uruguay eight, and Peru 36 of the last built. Colombia was given 14 in 1980 for the anti-drug war, and El Salvador received 18 to fight insurgents.
Counter-insurgency, or COIN aircraft were intended as low-cost, light planes to strike against guerilla bands. This concept assumed an enemy without sophisticated air defenses, and the sort of aerial police work assigned to the “general purpose” biplanes of the late British Empire. Since the Marines were the American armed force with such experience, beginning with the DH-4s that hit the original Nicaraguan Sandinistas, they were given responsibility for the operational requirement, with input from the other services.
A specification for a Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft was finalized in September 1963 and proposals invited October 28. The requirements called for a two-place, twin-engine aircraft of minimum size and cost capable of flying from the smallest runways, open fields, roads, or carriers. Four 500-pound bombs and four M60 guns were required for the close support configuration, although armed reconnaissance was the primary role.
Nine companies submitted designs for evaluation by June 1964, but construction of the Convair Model 48 had begun in March as a private venture. Named the Charger, it flew on November 25, with two Pratt & Whitney T74 turboprops, twin booms, a high slab tail-plane, and a short rectangular wing with full-span slotted flaps. Four 7.62-mm M60 guns were mounted on each side of the fuselage, and five external store stations were provided. When holding a 1,200-pound payload and fuel for two hours loiter time over a target 50 nautical miles away, takeoff over 50-foot obstacle could be made in 485 feet, using a deflected slipstream principle. In heavy condition, the Charger could carry cargo, six paratroops, or enough fuel to fly from California to Hawaii.
The Charger proved to be the last airplane from the San Diego factory’s 29 years of production since the first PB-2A pursuit. Model 48 was smashed on October 19, 1965, on its 196th flight, but sales chances were already lost before it left the ground.
Shortly before the Charger’s first flight test, North American won the design competition with the NA-300, which also was a twin-boomed two-seater. On October 15, 1964, seven prototypes were ordered from the Columbus factory for Marine tests as the YOV-10A; the designation being part of the V series of vertical and short-takeoff aircraft, mostly experimental in nature.
First flown July 16, 1965, by Ed Gillespie, the YOV-10A had two Garrett AiResearch 660-hp T76-G-6/8 turboprops, and sponsons attached on the fuselage carried four 7.62-mm M-60 guns with 500 rpg and hard points for bombs or rockets. The seventh YOV-10A was flown October 7, 1966, with Pratt & Whitney T74 engines for comparison tests.
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