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  • North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco Observation / Light Attack Aircraft

    The North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco provided a useful light strike and observation capability for various forces throughout the Cold War years.

     Updated: 8/4/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The North American/Rockwell OV-10 Bronco was developed through the United States Marine Corps Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) program to provide the service branch with a multi-faceted performer that could handle armed reconnaissance and light strikes while operating with high loitering times from short and rugged runways. North American produced the NA-300, which was ultimately selected to become the Bronco in August of 1964. Seven YOV-10A prototypes emerged from the development of the NA-300 . First flight of the Bronco was achieved on July 16th, 1965 and was followed by a production contract in 1966 for the initial OV-10A models.

    Externally, design of the Bronco was very unique in nature, sporting a high-mounted, straight monoplane wing assembly with cut-off wing tips. Each wing fitted underslung engine nacelles with powerplants mounting three-bladed propeller systems. The undercarriage was conventional with two main gears (fitted with single wheels) retracting into each engine nacelle underside and a nose gear (also fitting a single wheel)retracting forward. The Bronco maintained a twin boom layout extending aft to two vertical tail fins with the booms joined by a high-mounted horizontal tailplane. The fuselage was made up of a central nacelle fitted between the engines and positioned at the middle of the wing span. Side fuselage "sponsons", containing the 7.62mm M60 machine gun armament, protruded from the lower rear fuselage area. The sponsons also contained four weapon station hardpoints underneath.

    The pilot and co-pilot sat in tandem in a full-windowed "greenhouse-style" cockpit with generally great visibility from any direction but to the rear. The cockpit was positioned as such that forward seat was held out well past the engines themselves. Both cockpit positions were afforded ejection seats for improved crew survivability ( helped along by the Broncos inherently rugged design and construction). The fuselage nacelle featured a cabin area at rear with space for could fit two medical litters and one medical attendant or five combat-ready infantrymen. Up to 3,200lbs of supplies could also be taken aboard if need be.

    As a close-support, low-flying, light strike aircraft, armament of the Bronco naturally became the system's forte. Standard fittings included 4 x 7.62x51mm M60C machine guns in fuselage sponsons (the prototype YOV-10D trialed a 1 x 20mm M197 cannon in their place). Up to 3,600lbs of mixed ordnance could be carried externally on one under-fuselage, four under-sponson and two underwing weapons store stations. Armament included air-to-surface rockets in 7- or 19-tube launchers firing 2.75" rockets or 2- or 4-shot launchers firing 5" rockets in either their Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket (FFAR - otherwise known as "Zuni") or WAFARs (Wrap-Around Fin Aircraft Rockets). The Bronco was also given the capability to engage aerial inbound targets by its provision for 2 x wing-mounted AIM-9 Sidewinder short-ranged air-to-air missiles. Other munitions include the mounting of the SUU-11/A or Mk 4 Mod 0 series gun pods while use of conventional bombs rounded out armament capabilities. External fuel tanks could take the place of armament if needed.

    The OV-10A fitted two Garret-brand T76-G-410/412 series turboprops delivering up to 715 horsepower each engine. Performance included a top speed of 281 miles-per-hour, a cruise speed of 223 miles-per-hour, an operational range of 576 miles and a service ceiling upwards of 26,000 feet. The OV-10A represented the initial Bronco production model. The OV-10B and OV-10B(Z) were both target tugs produced for Germany, the latter fitted with a J85-GE-4 turbojet engine. Designations for the C-, E- and F-models were all for export to Thailand, Venezuela and Indonesia respectively and all based on the OV-10A production model.

    The OV-10M was a modified OV-10A model exclusively for the Philippines Air Force. These Broncos were fitted with a new four-blade propeller system. Work was handled by Marsh Aviation.

    The YOV-10D appeared as two modified OV-10A prototype forms for the USMC Night Observation Gunship System (NOGS) program during the Vietnam War. They were used operationally in the war and proved successful, being outfitted with an experimental 20mm XM197 three-barreled Gatling cannon in a belly-mounted turret and a combination FLIR/laser target designator in a nose-mounted turret. Engines were the standard 715 horsepower installations used prior. Despite their positive performance in combat, the design did not enter serial production and, instead, led to the OV-10D production variant which lacked the 20mm XM197 turreted cannon (the M197 was later featured on the Bell AH-1J Cobra attack helicopter).

    North American Rockwell OV-10A Bronco Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1966
    Type: Observation / Light Attack Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): North American Rockwell - USA
    Production Total: 356

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 2
    Length: 41.67 feet (12.7 meters)
    Width: 39.70 feet (12.10 meters)
    Height: 15.29 feet (4.66 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 6,969 lb (3,161 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 14,442 lb (6,551 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Garrett T76-G-416/417 turboprop engines driving three-blade propellers.

    Maximum Speed: 281 mph (452 kph; 244 knots)
    Maximum Range: 228 miles (367 km)
    Service Ceiling: 23,999 feet (7,315 meters; 4.55 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 2,650 feet-per-minute (808 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    4 x 7.62mm M60C General Purpose Machine Guns in side fuselage sponsons.

    Mission-specific armament can include a combination of the following:

    2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles.
    Conventional Light-Weight Drop Bombs
    7-Shot 2.75" FFAR/WAFAR Rocket Pods
    19-Shot 2.75" FFAR/WAFAR Rocket Pods
    2-Shot 5" FFAR/WAFAR Rocket Pods
    4-Shot 5" FFAR/WAFAR Rocket Pods
    SUU-11/A Machine Gun Pods
    Mk 4 Mod 0 Machine Gun Pods

    External Fuel Tanks
    White Phosphorous Marking Rockets
    LUU-2 Parachute Flare Dispenser

    OF NOTE:
    1 x 20mm M197 cannon (YOV-10D)

    Global Operators / Customers

    Colombia; Germany; Indonesia; Morocco; Philippines; Thailand; United States; Venezuela

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    NA-300 - North American Company Model Designation.

    YOV-10A - Prototype Designation; seven prototypes produced.

    OV-10A - First Production Model

    OV-10B - German Export Target Towing Variants; 6 examples delivered.

    OV-10B(Z) - German Export Target Tug Model; fitted with J85-GE-4 series auxiliary turbojet in upper fuselage; 18 examples delivered.

    OV-10C - Thailand Export Model; based on OV-10A

    YOV-10D - Second Generation Bronco Prototype

    OV-10D - Improved Bronco for USMC; revised airframe; fitted with FLIR night-vision and camera in elongated nose assembly; larger engines with fiberglass propellers; infrared exhaust suppression.

    OV-10D "NOGS" - Proposed Bronco Program; "Night Observation Gunship System" model for potential use by the USMC; four OV-10A models converted to use a turreted FLIR system with slaved 20mm M197 cannon; funding issues cancelled further conversions.

    NOS OV-10D - Evolved form of OV-10D NOGS program aircraft also fitting a laser target designator and removing the 20mm cannon armament.

    OV-10D+ - Upgraded USMC Bronco A- and D-models; reinforced wings; revised wiring and instrument panel.

    OV-10E - Venezuelan Export Model; based on OV-10A

    OV-10F - Indonesian Export Model; based on OV-10A

    OV-10M - Philippine Air Force Bronco; modified with four-bladed propellers as handled by the March Aviation company.

    OV-10(X) - Proposed Modernized and Improved Light Attack Variant for the USAF; glass-cockpit; revised sensor equipment; provision for smart bombs.

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