The A-37 Dragonfly helped set the standard for lightweight counterinsurgency (COI N) aircraft first employed during the Vietnam era. As America was drawn into the Vietnam conflict the Air Force began looking for inexpensive, lightweight and simple aircraft for use in counterinsurgency operations. In 1963 Cessna modified an existing T-37 trainer into a prototype YA-37 A. The standard airframe was fitted with more powerful engines and hard points on the wings for weapons. The Air Force was impressed and ordered the type into production. By 1968 the "Dragonfly" was introduced to combat missions in Vietnam.
The versatile A-37 flew over 10,000 missions in its first year of combat duty. It rapidly gained the reputation of being both hard-hitting and effective at COIN operations. Twenty-five A-37s were turned over to the South Vietnamese Air Force which continued to fly combat missions until the end of the war in 1975. So impressed were the North Vietnamese that they used captured A-37s during their invasion into Cambodia.
The USAF continued to improve the Dragonfly. A total of 577 of the A-37B types were built and deployed as light attack aircraft. The combination of simplicity and firepower made the Dragonfly much sought after and they were purchased by Turkey and many South American countries, where they are still employed. In the U.S. the A-37B still is being flown by Air National Guard units as a forward air control aircraft. A limited number have also found their way into the hands of private collectors (photo not of the museum's aircraft).
Manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company
Model: A-37 Dragonfly
Max T/O Weight: 14,000 lb.
Span: 35 ft. 11 in.
Length: 28 ft. 3 in.
Height: 8 ft. 11 in.
Maximum Speed: 525 mph
Cruise Speed: 460 mph
Rate of Climb: 7,000 ft/min
Power Plant: 2 × General Electric J85-GE-17A turbojets, 2,850 lb. thrust each
Range: 1,010 miles
Service Ceiling: 41,765 ft.
Armament: One 7.62-mm minigun and eight hard points for underwings stores