The year is 1970. War is rolling aggressively in Vietnam between the forces of the communist North, and Democratic South Vietnam along with its ally, the United States. Tensions are high back home and public opinion is split on whether the war is worth all the fuss or not. Protests mount, and it is not an uncommon sight to see groups and hordes of people furiously waving pickets and fists in the air against a military excursion that people from all walks of life have come to detest so vehemently. Across the Pacific, in the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam, American troops and units neck-high in the brush and deep in enemy territory have no time nor interest in paying attention to politics and all its intricacies. Their eyes are locked on the meters in front of them, wary of what caused that one bush to rustle, or those branches to break, constantly on the lookout for the enemy and on-guard for their own lives. They are grateful for the announcing roar of the OV-10 aircraft above them, keeping an eye on the skies with its unique and multi-faceted capabilities.
The Vietnam War was not an easy one. American forces on Vietnamese soil fought tooth and nail to push back and eradicate the communist insurgency in the Southeast Asian country. The 1954 Geneva Conference split the country of Vietnam into two, a communist North and democratic South. The former led by Ho Chi Minh and the latter, by Ngo Dinh Diem before he was assassinated. The war was especially challenging because of the difficulties posed by the terrain and the land which American troops were forced to fight on. Vietnam, for those who haven’t been, is a country full of rolling hills, thick jungles and tropical clime that is host to a handful of infectious diseases such as malaria.
Couple these geographical challenges with the creeping, ever-present threat of Viet Cong or “Victor Charlie” guerrillas who knew these lands like the back of their hands, and a soldier finds himself in a handicap like never before. These communist forces wore no uniforms, delivered devastating blows seconds before vanishing, and blended in with local villagers and communities with ease.
The United States Military learned that when attacking an elusive foe such as the Victor Charlie, high-performance aircraft fighters were much more successful when directed by lighter forward air control (FAC) planes. The OV-10 Bronco, however, is much more than just a target pointer. Hoisting four 7.62mm M60C machine guns, 2.75 inch marking rockets, 20mm cannon pods and an array of incredibly devastating 5-inch Zuni folding-fin aircraft rockets, the OV10 rained down hell on the heads of ground targets. Flying at speeds up to 281mph, the OV-10 floated like a butterfly and stung like a 41x40x15ft, 9 to 12,000lb armor-plated, bullet-resistant bee.
The VAL-4 “Black Ponies,” renowned as OV-10 flyers during the Vietnam War who liked to get close, down and dirty with the Viet Cong enemy along the Mekong Delta, were known to fly in two-plane fire teams whereas one plane was coming off the target, the other rolled in. This act of switching, firing, and switching again kept going until either the ground was quiet or their guns ran out of ammo. Consistently delivering the 50-ft fireballs that were the Zuni rockets within 30 feet of their aim points, they were always up in the face of the enemy, hitting hard and hitting close.
The OV-10 Bronco did its fair share in pushing back against the communist Viet Cong forces in Indochina during the Vietnam War. Of the reported 444,000 North Vietnamese military personnel who have died in combat, the OV-10 Bronco alone is claimed to have felled 4,000 of the communist insurgents. The OV-10 Bronco has proved that striking a balance between the ferocity of a jet fighter and the utility of a helicopter was indeed possible, and it is this unique capabilities of the OV-10 that had allowed it to successfully distribute logistics to severed units, evacuate injured personnel, spot targets as forward air control and provide close air support to critical areas.
Now that the Vietnam War is over, the OV-10 still remains a spitting image of American genius and innovation in aviation. An unsung hero and lifesaver of the countless many, the OV-10 is certainly deserving of its restoration. This project is decades in the making and is led by a team of extremely dedicated and diverse individuals who are stalwart in their mission of bringing back to life a legendary aircraft. Learn more about our mission now by browsing more of our website and getting in touch with us!