Country of Origin: United States
Crew: 1 pilot, or 1 pilot and 1 observer
Length: 28 ft 3.4 in (8.62 m)
Wingspan: 35 ft 10.3 in
Height: 8 ft 10.3 in (2.70 m)
Weight: 6,211 lb (2,817 kg) empty, 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) maximum
Powerplant: 2x General Electric J-85-GE-17A turbojets with 2,850 pounds of thrust each
Maximum Speed: 507 mph (816 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 41,765 ft (12,730 m)
Range: 920 mi (1,480 km)
Armament: 1x 7.62mm M-134 Minigun, 2x 20mm GPU-2/A gun pods, 2x 70mm LAU-51/A rocket launchers, 4x 500 lb Mk 82 bombs
The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, a small, light, yet brutally lethal counter insurgency (COIN) and close air support (CAS) aircraft.
As the Vietnam War dragged on, the Air Force wanted to test a jet powered attack aircraft as a possible replacement for their fleet of A-1 Skyraiders. Wanting something small and light so as to be able to operate from the forward air bases in South Vietnam and Thailand and therefore requiring fewer ammenities that their bigger and more advanced machines required, they gave a contract to Cessna to modify their T-37 training aircraft to see how well it might perform in an attack role.
Cessna modified 39 of their T-37 aircraft and sent them to the Air Force as the YAT-37, with tests and evaluations to be carried out directly on the battlefield.
Combat tests were quite successful, and the YAT-37s, with a small number of upgrades became the A-37A. Over time, as the A-37s were put through ever more demanding missions and roles, a number of modifications became necessary, one of the biggest being the ability to refuel in mid-air.
Cessna's next batch of A-37s included an inflight refuelling probe, more powerful jet engines, a modest increase in load carrying capability, and a number of small changes to the cockpit layout. These aircraft became the A-37B, which is what my model represents.
Though the Dragonfly never replaced the Skyraider in the ground attack role (due to several reasons, the Skyraider's heavier payload capacity being one of them), it never the less proved itself a capable and lethal ground attack machine, carrying heavy ordinance straight to the front lines, while its small size and agility made it a difficult target to shoot down.
Primary armament was usually a mix of rockets and bombs carried on 8 underwing hardpoints, while an M-134 Minigun in the nose provided additional firepower and a ground strafing capability. Though the M-134 was only a 7.62mm weapon, versus the cannon shells fired by other aircraft, its high rate of fire helped its effectiveness against enemy infantry. In order to boost its effectiveness against "hard" targets, gun pods with 20mm and 30mm cannons were fitted to the underwing hardpoints and while considered successful in tests and a small number of combat operations, they were oddly never adopted on a large scale.
Following Vietnam, the Dragonfly continued its military career until the early 1990's. Though it remained in Air Force service in small numbers, most of them wound up in the hands of the Air National Guard as AF units traded the Dragonflies in for the devastating A-10 Thunderbolt II.
The A-37 I've built here is in the markings of an Air National Guard Squadron, making it a post Vietnam colour scheme. Unfortunately, because my kit is at least 20 years old, the decals had yellowed and deteriorated beyond use, and no replacements or substitutes were availible to me.
Ordinance: From left to right: 20mm cannon pod, 1,000 pound bomb, 70mm rocket launcher, 1,000 pound bomb:[link]
A-37s were really small. Here it is next to an F-80 Shooting Star. Note that the Shooting Star is actually taller:[link][link]