Today we present to our readers the aircraft which known by the name Cessna A-37 Dragonfly or also nicknamed the Super Tweet. This is a light attack aircraft for the US Army that was developed on a design of the basic trainer designated T-37 Tweet which served back in the 60s and the 70s.
The T-37 Tweet was developed by the engineers of the Cessna aircraft operating from Wichita, Kansas. As for its variant A-37 aka the Super Tweet, it was introduced in active duty service back during the Vietnam War. After wartime, it also served the army for its peacetime service.
For our readers, we have gathered a bunch of amazing facts about the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly which are as follows.
A Fighter Cessna
The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly came into being from its original model T-37 Tweet during the war in Vietnam where a need for a small-sized attack aircraft was required due to the highly forested terrain. The fight for the US troops was being carried out either in the hills or mountains or the densely jungle riddled terrain. These types of terrain proved to be a great challenge to mount for the US and the ARVN freedom fighting forces in the Vietnam War.
Seeing these need, US army put forward a request for an aircraft that was not only fast but also could provide the ground troops with close air support. In addition to this, the aircraft design should also be able to hold off under the extremely high condition of humidity and heat. The answer to this call was responded in form of the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly aka the Super Tweet.
The transition from a T-37 to an A-37
The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly went through an interesting path in its development. The Cessna T-37 Trainer was evaluated by the U.S. Air Force’s Special Air Warfare Center located at the Eglin AFB for the mission role. The initial assessment of the T-37 was a positive one with folks of Eglin AFB decided to make few changes in the design of the aircraft. These changes were approved and the production of the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly was stated from 1963 by the Cessna which would produce the aircraft which would have following features.
- To have powerful engines as the GE Turbomecas were not able to deliver enough power.
- Increased fuel capacity
- T-7 was not designed to have ordinance payload delivery so the new Cessna A-37 Dragonfly would have ordinance delivery system
- Increased structural strength to offer more performance and payload demands.
After the new Cessna A-37 Dragonfly was developed with all the aforementioned demands by the Army, it proved to be a great aerial asset which packed quite a punch. The aircraft had new engines which were 2 of the General Electric J-85 single-shaft turbojets that could each produce a power of 2850 lb/ft. these engines were fitted inside the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly in order to give it increased performance and speed for its increased payload capacity. With the additional speed, the aircraft was able to fly at a top speed of 500 mph and was able to provide the ground troops impressive close air support.
In addition to this, the new increased fuel tanks capacities which were integrated into its larger and stronger wings allowed the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly to have a combat range of nearly 460 nautical miles. This was an impressive feat for such a small-sized aircraft to operate under the heavy battle conditions of Vietnam.
While all of the speed and payload delivery modifications were great, the real change that made the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly a great asset was the changes carried out in its weapons system. As the T-73 was only a trainer aircraft, it had only a minimal number of weaponry which befitted a training aircraft. However, the modifications and upgrades carried out especially in weaponry of the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly allowed it to become an aircraft that was armed with firepower ridiculously.
The aircraft had the GAU-2B/A minigun as its main defensive weapon. This GAU was a .762 mm NATO approved eclectically driven rotary breech gun that had a fire rate somewhere in between 2000 to 6000 rounds per minute. This gun had a range of early 3000 feet along with the muzzle velocity being 2800 ft/s. all of these features of the gun allowed it to become frightening firepower for the enemy ground forces.
Now, this was not the only gun in the arsenal of Cessna A-37 Dragonfly. The aircraft had nearly 8 hardpoints on the underside of its wings that allowed the aircraft to have a wide range of weaponry. During eh various moments of the Vietnam War, Cessna A-37 Dragonfly was equipped with following weapon systems.
- SUU-11/A gun pods
- additional miniguns
- 30mm DEFA cannons
- Mk 40 FFAR rockets carried in LAU-32/A, LAU-59, or LAU-68 launcher
In addition to these, the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly was also able to carry bombs of 500 pounds in its SUU-14 Bomb dispenser along with having AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles needed during eh air-to-air fight. Last but certainly not the least weapon that the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly had been its Napalm Pods for which the aircraft became infamous for its destruction capabilities.
Carried out testing in Vietnam
The final point that allowed the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly to be noted in the aviation annals of world and US history was that it was not like many other fighter aircraft of its time.
This aircraft was actually sent into the active duty service of the US Army as soon as it was manufactured without even conducting any special testing on it.
Back in 1966, Cessna provided 25 o these Cessna A-37 Dragonflies which were then sent over to Vietnam where they worked on the front lines. During that time, the Cessna A-37 Dragonfly proved itself to be one of the effective attack aircraft of the Vietnam War.