COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America
TYPE: Two seat light attack aircraft
POWERPLANTS: Two 12.7KN (2850lb) General Electric J85-GE-17A turbojets.
PERFORMANCE: Max speed 816km/h (440kt) at 16,000ft, max cruising speed 787km/h (425kt). Max initial rate of climb 6990ft/min. Service ceiling 41,765ft. Range with max fuel and reserves 1630km (880nm), range with max payload including 1860kg (4100lb) of external ordnance 740km (400nm).
WEIGHTS: Empty equipped 2817kg (6211lb), max takeoff 6350kg (14,000lb).
DIMENSIONS:Wing span 10.93m (35ft 11 in), length excluding refuelling probe 8.93m (29ft 4in), height 2.71m (8ft 11 in). Wing area 17.1m2(183.9sqft).
ACCOMMODATION: Seating for two, side-by-side.
ARMAMENT: One 7.62mm GAU-2 minigun in forward fuselage. Eight underwing hardpoints can carry a total ordnance load of 1860kg (4100lb), including bombs, rockets and gun pods.
OPERATORS: Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay.
HISTORY: The US Air Force's decision to evaluate the suitability of an armed version of the T-37 Tweet jet trainer for light attack/counter insurgency work was a fruitful one, as the resulting A-37 saw widespread active service in Vietnam where it was well suited to the type of conflict fought there.
In 1962 the USAF's Special Air Warfare centre began evaluating two T-37Bs to test the type's suitability for the counter insurgency (COIN) role. After initial testing the two T-37Bs were modified to YAT-37D standard (first flight October 22 1963) and fitted with two 10.7kN (2400lb) General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojets. Testing proved positive but initially nothing came of the concept until the Vietnam War intensified. In 1966 the USAF contracted Cessna to convert 39 T-37Bs to light attack A-37A Dragonfly standard. Apart from the GE turbojets, the A-37As introduced eight underwing hardpoints, extra fuel capacity in wingtip tanks, armour protection, attack avionics, larger wheels and tyres and an internal 7.62mm minigun.
Twenty five A-37As were successfully evaluated in operational conditions in Vietnam from mid 1967, these aircraft were later transferred to full operational service, and were passed to the South Vietnamese AF in 1970.
The success of the A-37A led to the definitive A-37B, with uprated engines, an inflight refuelling probe and increased internal fuel capacity, while the airframe was stressed for 6g rather than 5g. In all 577 A-37Bs were delivered to the USAF and export customers between May 1968 and 1975. A-37Bs saw widespread service with the US and South Vietnamese air forces during the Vietnam War, and captured examples even saw brief service with the North Vietnamese air force during the closing stages of that conflict.
The USAF fitted 130 A-37Bs as OA-37Bs with avionics for forward air control work, although the last of these was retired in 1992. Ex USAF A-37 and OA-37s serve widely in South America.
Photos Cessna A-37 Dragonfly