(An O2A/M337 Skymaster for CalFire Picture credit to wiki)
The Cessna O2/337 Skymaster
The Skymaster is a twin engine utility aircraft. The Skymaster is a Push - Pull aircraft with a propeller in the front, and one in the back. Twin booms extend aft of the wings to the vertical stabilizers, with the rear engine between them. The horizontal stabilizer is aft of the pusher propeller, mounted between and connecting the two booms. The O-2 Skymaster is the Military version of the Cessna 337.
The design is interesting, The Skymaster handles differently from a conventional twin-engine aircraft, primarily in that if an engine fails, the plane will not yaw toward that engine. Without the issue of differential thrust inherent to conventional (engine-on-wing) twins, engine failure on takeoff will not produce yaw from the runway heading. ith no one-engine-out minimum controllable speed (Vmc), in-flight control at any flying speed with an engine inoperative is not as critical as it is with engines on the wing with the associated leverage; however, performance in speed and, particularly, rate of climb are affected.
From 1976 until the middle 1990 CalFire used the O2A/337 as tactical aircraft during firefighting operations.
The US Air Force took delivery of the O-2 Skymaster in March 1967 and the O-2A also entered the U.S. Army’s inventory during 1967, from USAF stock. By 1970, a total of 532 O-2s had been built, in two variants, for the USAF.
During the Vietnam War, the O-2A was introduced as a replacement for the O-1 Bird Dog, in the forward air control (FAC) aircraft and served in that role with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron. The O-2B was equipped with loudspeakers and a leaflet dispenser for use in the psychological operations (PSYOPS) role.
The US Navy had six former USAF O-2A airframes were transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1983 for use as range controllers with Attack Squadron 122 (VA-122), the Pacific Fleet Replacement Squadron for the A-7 Corsair II at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. These aircraft were later transferred to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), the F/A-18 Hornet FRS at NAS Lemoore, in 1986 for use in the same range control role.
The Army had two O-2As were used at Laguna Army Airfield, Arizona as part of testing programs carried out by the Yuma Proving Ground. These were retired in October 2010 and sent to a museum.
The Skymasters were also used by the “Brothers to the Rescue"
Brothers to the Rescue Story
From 1991 until 2001 the Cuban exile group Hermanos al Rescate (Brothers to the Rescue) used Skymasters, among other aircraft, to fly search and rescue missions over the Florida Straits looking for rafters attempting to cross the straits to defect from Cuba, and when they found them, dropped life-saving supplies to them. Rescues were coordinated with the US Coast Guard, which worked closely with the group. They chose Skymasters because their high wing offered better visibility of the waters below, they were reliable and easy to fly for long-duration missions (averaging 7 hours), and they added a margin of safety with twin-engine centerline thrust. In 1996, two of the Brothers to the Rescue Skymasters were shot down by the Cuban Air Force over international waters. Both aircraft were downed by a MiG-29, while a second jet fighter, a MiG-23, orbited nearby.
337 Super Skymaster - 336; retractable undercarriage, redesigned nose cowling and new rear engine intake, and greater wing angle of incidence, powered by two 210 hp Continental IO-360-C engines.
337B Super Skymaster - 337A; increased take-off gross weight, optional belly cargo pack, 230 built.
T337B (1967) Turbo Super Skymaster - 337B; two Continental turbocharged fuel injected 210 hp engines which boosted service ceiling to 33,000 feet (10,000 m), cruise speed to 233 mph, and range to 1,640 miles
337E Super Skymaster - 337D; cambered wingtips and minor changes
337G Super Skymaster - 337F; split airstair entry door, smaller rear side windows, improved flaps, larger front propeller, powered by Continental IO-360-G engines
P337G Super Skymaster - 337G; pressurized cabin and turbocharged engine
337M - US military version designated O-2 Skymaster in service
O-2A - US military designation of the 337M Forward air control, observation aircraft for the US Air Force. 501 delivered to the USAF and 12 to the Imperial Iranian Air Force
O-2B: Psychological warfare version for the US Air Force
O-2T: Twin-turboprop version of O-2, with two 317 hp Allison 250-B15 engines, a longer span wing and improved high lift devices
O-2TT: Improved twin turboprop forward air control aircraft, with same wing (43 ft 0 in (13.11 m) wing and engines of O-2T but with new forward fuselage with tandem seating for pilot and observer to give improved view
Capacity: five passengers
Length: 29 ft 9 in
Wingspan: 38 ft 0 in
Height: 9 ft 4 in
Empty weight: 2,655 lb (1,204 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 4,400 lb (2,000 kg)
Powerplant: 2 × Continental IO-360-C air-cooled flat-six piston engine, 210 hp each
Maximum speed: 173 knots
Cruise speed: 125 knots,at 10,000 ft (econ cruise)
Range: 839 nmi
Service ceiling: 19,500 ft
Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min
I think this unique Cessna would make a perfect aircraft for IF. It’s unqiuness and history behind it would make it fun flying this in Vietnam, or private use in the Pacific. Certain Virtual companies can use it as a Fire Spotter, and others part of their Military. This Cessna aircraft opens new doors for different operations!