OV-10 Bronco Association museum at Veterans Memorial Air Park
32º 48′ 12″ N / 97º 21′ 15″ W
During the Vietnam War the Forward Air Control (FAC) mission evolved into Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) — which was a specification issued by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps for a two crew aircraft which could fly fast, need little room for take offs and landings (including operations from aircraft carriers), able to sustain high G-loads, carry arms (machine guns, bombs, rockets and deployable ground sensors) as well as half a dozen paratroopers and two litter cases.
Quite a specification!
North American designed the OV-10 Bronco and satisfied most of the LARA specifications. A twin boom design with a turboprop engine nestled within each boom which together straddle a central fuselage pod. This pod positioned the pilot and observer in tandem at the forward half with a largely void square cross-section rear half intended primarily for cargo. Removable sponsons midway along the fuselage pod each could house a pair of 7.62mm caliber conventional machine guns as well as provide hard points for ordnance. Another intuitive nuance of design by North American is the use of wing spoilers in concert with ailerons to create a incredible roll rate for the Bronco. The rear of the fuselage pod features an outward swinging hatch (opening to the left when looking forward on the one I observed). This area of the aircraft was useful for small cargo weighing up to a bit over 3000 pounds/~1360kg. Optionally, two litter patients could be carried though no room for a medic to attend except from the observer’s rear seat position — modification was likely required for the medic or corpsman to physically attend to the patients as the pilot seat and observer seat were both ejection seats(with zero airspeed and zero altitude capability).
It seems as if up to four paratroopers (likely either Pathfinders or Special Forces) could also be deployed for rapid or covert insertion. Each man would have sat facing to the rear in each others lap (except the first man out) with the rear hatch detached and left at the base. The pilot pitching up would have been the preferred way to deploy the small unit having them slide out of the cargo bay. Bronco’s did not have jumpmasters and I do not know how the pilot would have signaled to prepare to jump, or jump. I suppose field or hand held radios would have sufficed, or the observer banging on the fuselage, or a maneuver by the pilot perhaps a minute before pitching up?
Aside from the LARA missions the Bronco was also an excellent FAC aircraft. Bringing 4 x 7.62mm machine guns to the fray would have been welcomed by most ground unit commanders as FACs were usually on the scene within minutes. The OV-10 Bronco Museum web site has much more information on this remarkable aircraft which continued to serve in many other countries as well as agencies well after the end of the Vietnam War.
Only a short drive from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) or Dallas Love Field (DAL) the OV-10 Bronco Museum is located within the Veterans Memorial Air Park — which is nearly world class in nature. The entrance is best found by going to the intersection of West Long Avenue and Ross Avenue (at the southwest corner of Fort Worth Meacham International Airport [FTW] in Fort Worth, Texas) and driving a stone’s throw north on Ross.
Posts on the Veterans Memorial Air Park can be found by pasting the terms into the search window and selecting ENTER.
My thanks again to Ike Gallop and especially to Marty and Jayne Davis — who also significantly support this blog — for making this trip possible.
Posts for the VMAP are on this schedule:
- Previous Monday, Veterans Memorial Air Park
- Previous Wednesday, the B-36 Peacemaker Museum
- Previous Friday, the Forward Air Controller’s Museum
- Today, the OV-10 Bronco Museum
Later posts on individual aircraft there will occur, as well