The OV-10 Bronco, a rugged, maneuverable, twin-turboprop, multimission aircraft, served with the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps (OV-10A). The U.S. Navy also used the OV-10. The Navy squadron VAL-4 "Black Ponies" flew them with much success in the Vietnam War. Internationally, the OV-10 served with the military services of West Germany (OV-10B), Thailand (OV-10C), Venezuela (OV-10E) and Indonesia (OV-10F). Designed and built by North American at Columbus, Ohio, the Bronco complemented the performance requirements between jets and helicopters. Faster and more tactically versatile than helicopters, yet slower and more maneuverable than jets, the Bronco utilized tactics not possible with either.
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. The effective application of the Bronco's versatility, however, did not end with purely military functions. Civil action applications added significantly to the cost-effectiveness of this economical aircraft.
Military applications for which the Bronco was particularly suited include anti-guerrilla operations, helicopter escort, close air support, armed reconnaissance and forward air control. 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.
Ruggedness and simplicity of operation were emphasized in the design of the Bronco. The fuselage was mounted under the wing and provided tandem seating for pilot and observer. The canopy design afforded better visibility than that of most helicopters. Each crewman was equipped with an LW-3B ejection seat system, also designed and built at Columbus, which was capable of zero-speed, zero-altitude ejections.
The OV-10 was equipped with seven external store stations and four 7.62 mm guns installed in the sponsons. A variety of conventional ordnance could be delivered in addition to 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The seven external store stations consisted of four sponson store stations, one centerline station and two external wing stations. Sponson accessibility provided rapid loading of stores and ammunition. The wing stations could carry the LAU-7/A launcher for mounting either rocket packages or missiles. The centerline store station also had the capability of carrying either a 20mm gun pod or a 150-, 230- or 300-gallon external fuel tank.
For operation in remote areas, the Bronco had a specially designed rough field landing gear, required no ground equipment for starting and could be maintained with simple handtools. In the event of an emergency, the Bronco could use high-octane or automotive fuel in place of jet fuel with only a slight degradation of power.
Missions : Observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, utility light air transport and limited ground attack, tactical air observation, artillery and naval gunfire spotting, special forces personnel dropping and exfiltration, ejected pilots exfiltration, wounded personnel rescue.