Cessna O-1 "BirdDog"

The Cessna O-1 “Bird Dog!”

The Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog was a liaison and observation aircraft. It was the first all-metal fixed-wing aircraft ordered for and by the United States Army following the Army Air Forces’ separation from it in 1947! Bird Dog had a lengthy career in the U.S. military, as well as in other countries.


The DoD ordered 3,200 L-19s that were built between 1950 and 1959, entering both the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corp inventories, initially designated as OE-1s in the Marine Corps until all US military aircraft designations were standardized in 1962. The aircraft were used in various utility roles such as artillery spotting, front line communications, medivac and training. 1962, the Army L-19 and Marine Corps OE-1 was redesignated the O-1 (Observation) Bird Dog and entered the Vietnam War. . During the early 1960s, the Bird Dog was flown by the Republic of Vietnam Air Force. U.S. Army, and U.S. Marines in South Vietnam and later by clandestine forward air controllers in Laos and Cambodia. Because of its short takeoff and landing (STOL) and low altitude/low airspeed capabilities, the O-1 also later found its way into the US Air Force service as a Forward Air Controller. aircraft for vectoring faster fighter and attack aircraft and supporting combat search-and-rescue operations recovering downed aircrews.

During the Vietnam War the Bird Dog was used primarily for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment, radio relay, convoy escort and the forward air control of tactical aircraft, to include bombers operating in a tactical role.

In the early 1970s, as the O-2 Skymaster and OV-10 Bronco replaced the O-1 in frontline USAF service, several former USAF O-1s were turned over to the USAF’s civilian auxiliary, the Civil Air Patrol. for duties such as aerial search in support of domestic search and rescue (SAR) operations. However, since very few CAP pilots had prior training and experience as professional military aviators and/or significant experience with tailwheel aircraft, many of the CAP O-1 aircraft were damaged in groundloops and other takeoff, landing or taxiing mishaps.
e only O-1 remaining in the CAP inventory is a permanent static display aircraft on a pylon in front of CAP Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base.

Variants of the Bird Dog

L-19A (Cessna 305A)
Initial production version for US Army, redesignated O-1A in 1962, 2,486 built

TL-19D (Cessna 305B)
Instrument trainer version of the L-19A with dual controls, redesignated TO-1D in 1962, 310 built

L-19E (Cessna 305C)
Improved version of the L-19A with equipment changes and higher gross weight, became O-1E in 1962, 469 built.


Royal Canadian Air Force
Canadian Army
Royal Canadian Air Cadets

Phillipeans Air Force
Phillipeans Army
Phillipeans Navy

United States:
United States Air Force
United States Army
United States Marine Corp
Civil Air Patrol

General characteristics

  • Crew: one/two
  • Length: 25 ft 10 in
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in
  • Height: 7 ft 4 in
  • Wing area: 174 sq ft
  • Empty weight: 1,614 lb
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,430 lb
  • Fuel capacity: 41 US gal
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-470-11, 213 hp


  • Maximum speed: 100 knt

  • Cruise speed: 104 mph at 5,000 ft

  • Range: 461 nmi

  • Service ceiling: 18,500 ft

  • Absolute ceiling: 24,800 ft

  • Rate of climb: 1,150 ft/min

  • Take-off distance to 50 ft: 560 ft

  • Landing distance from 50 ft: 600 ft

That is one unique weird looking bird! Great request. Good job with all the details and information.


Great feature request! Sadly i am out of votes 😫


Who are ya askin?

Umm sure but why?

No i deleted , it is not needed

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We used to use these as towplanes, I have a buddy that owns and operates one.

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Oh that’s cool! I’ve seen a few around Alaska

My great grandfather flew these (among other things) after he got out of Vietnam for the Army. Would be interesting to have in IF!

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