A light attack and reconnaissance aircraft that proved very effective during the Vietnam War will be on static display in the Air Tattoo's Cold War Zone this summer.
The North American Aviation Rockwell OV-10 Bronco ('O' for observation; 'V' for short take-off), was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for counter-insurgency combat, and one of its primary missions was as a forward air control aircraft. It can carry up to three tons of external munitions, and loiter for three or more hours.
Faster and more tactically versatile than helicopters, yet slower and more manoeuvrable than jets, the Bronco utilized tactics not possible with either and was operated by the US Air Force, Marine Corps and the US Navy.
In military operations, the Bronco's outstanding capability to find and hit battlefield targets close to friendly troops made this an aircraft effective against conventional and guerrilla forces. In addition, it could be used for utility missions such as cargo paradrop, delivery of up to six paratroops, medical evacuation, smoke screening and psychological warfare with leaflets and loudspeakers.
The Bronco arrived in Vietnam in 1968 and it didn't take long for it to develop a reputation. Former Vietnam War pilot Dennis Darnell is quoted as saying: "After a while, the enemy knew that the Bronco was a forward air control mission aircraft. We got cut some slack because if they shot at it and missed, [they knew that] within a few minutes we could bring the world down around their ears."
The aircraft displayed at RIAT is an ex-Luftwaffe target towing machine which retired from active service in 1990 and is now operated by the Bronco Demo Team based at Kortrijk in Belgium.
The aircraft has a maximum speed of 452km/h, a range of 1,297kms and a ceiling of 28,800ft.