O-1/L-19 Birddog

Technical Specs

  • Max Speed: 146 mph
  • Cruising Speed: 105 mph
  • Range: 679 miles
  • Service Ceiling: 21,300 feet
  • Wingspan: 36’ 0”
  • Length: 25’ 9”
  • Height: 7’ 6”
  • Weight: 2,400 lbs max

Armament

Four underwing pylons for mixed stores of smoke canisters and “Willie-Pete” white phosphorus marking rockets

Engine

213 hp Continental O-470-11

General Information

The L19/O-1 is another example of a civilian aircraft being modified for military service. Originally designed and manufactured by Cessna Aircraft the 305A was developed from the model 170 to Army specifications. The key difference between the 170 and the 305 is the seating; the 305 has only two seats, in a tandem configuration. Other important changes included angled side windows for improved ground observation, a re-designed rear fuselage which provided a clear view to the rear, and transparent panels in the wings’ center section which allowed a clear view directly overhead.

In total, over 3200 L-19 Bird Dogs were built for the Army between 1950 and 1959. They were used for artillery spotting, front line communications, medevac, and training during the Korean conflict. When the Vietnam conflict started, the Army L-19 was redesignated as the O-1 and was flown by South Vietnamese airmen, US Army pilots, and clandestine air crews known as the Ravens. In 1964 the majority of Bird Dogs were transitioned out of the Army and into the Air Force where they were used as observation and forward air control (FAC) aircraft until the war’s end in 1975. The O-1 was gradually supplemented, and ultimately replaced, by the O-2 Skymaster.

The Museum is pleased to have amongst its regular visitors two O-1 Vietnam Veterans: Sam Raines & Dick Storgaard. As with so many of the aviators who come through our doors, many stepped out of their aircraft on some remote airfield during a time of conflict and never imagined that they would have the opportunity to come into contact with such an aircraft again… As always, we are so pleased and so proud to ‘reunite’ our visiting Veterans with the birds that they flew.

Specific Information

This aircraft was purchased by Heritage flight museum in February of 2005, and came ‘dressed’ as a USAF O-1 typical of those flown during the Vietnam War, but was designated as a Cessna-Macone 305A.

A little sleuthing turned up that the ‘Macone’ referred to a John Macone who had re-built the aircraft and used it as a glider towing aircraft for Sugarbush Soaring – a common use for these aircraft. He explained that, at that time the FAA gave strange re-designations to aircraft after they were re-built or minor changes were made to them. Thus the hyphenation and addition of Macone. The aircraft retained its Cessna 305A designation which was given to this aircraft when it was designed for and accepted into military service.

In talking to John, the back story is that three war-weary Army 305A’s had been purchased at a surplus auction to be rebuilt as glider tow planes. Several bullet holes were patched, parts were pulled from all three to create two aircraft. They found evidence, aside from the bullet holes, that the aircraft had been overseas ‘in country’. According to John, “one of the firewall sections bore the curious inscription (I think dated 1953) “well done, Korea” and below that, was a date and a Vietnam location.” In one section of right aileron they found an almost-spent slug lodged in the metal.

After being used as glider tow plane HFM’s aircraft, was sold and painted up in its current livery, and ultimately joined our fleet with the O-2.