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|Type:||Observation & Communication|
|No. of Engines:||2|
|Max Speed:||199 mph|
|Drtbivr Ceiling:||18,000 ft|
In 1967, the Air Force completed an exhaustive search for an improved observation aircraft to replace the aging O-1 aircraft used by forward air controllers in Vietnam. Already on the production line, the Cessna 337 Super-Skymaster was a popular twin-engine, four-seat general aviation aircraft with a unique push-pull design. Engines mounted on the forward and rear of the fuselage gave the C-337 the extra power and reliability of two engines while retaining the advantage of centerline thrust and a high wing, making it an excellent platform for observation missions. Minor alterations, the installation of a gunsight, under-wing pylons, a smoke generator; glass panels in the lower starboard door and a loudspeaker for psychological warfare and the C-337 was transformed into the inexpensive and versatile O-2 Skymaster.
Skymasters were widely used for reconnaissance, target identification, damage assessment and air-to-ground coordination. Several O-2 aircraft were equipped with three 600-watt amplified speakers and leaflet pods for psychological warfare operations. In-service modifications gave some O-2s the capability to carry light weapons, such as rockets, bombs and mini-guns.
The museum’s 0-2B serial number 67-21465, was manufactured by Cessna Aircraft, Wichita, KS, and delivered to the USAF on January 18, 1967. It was the 26th 0-2B off the assembly line out of only 31 produced. Aircraft 67-21465 was used for psychological warfare operations, dropping leaflets with many different messages, some instructional, but mostly warnings of impeding defoliation flights or exhortations to enemy troops to lay down their arms. It was also equipped with a 300lb 1800 watt amplified speaker system. Easy targets, the O-2s engaged in psychological warfare operations were frequent targets for enemy ground fire.
After service in Vietnam, the museum’s 0-2B, serial number 67-21465, was assigned to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. In October 1973, 67-21465 was re-called to active duty to fly with the 163rd Tactical Air Support Group of the California Air National Guard. In 1975, the 163rd moved to March Air Force Base. By 1982, 0-2B 21465 was fully retired from United States Air Force with a total of 4,696 flight hours, and a bad case of metal fatigue. In 2000, 0-2B 67-21465 was brought to the museum. This aircraft is on loan from the NMUSAF