Bronco at night
The Bronco Demo Team organized on Saturday, March 18th a unique sunset photoshoot of their North American Rockwell OV-10B Bronco aircraft. This event took place at the Flanders International Airport (EBKT) in Belgium in association with a local Range Rover car dealer (Salens Motors) and the Belgian RateOne aviation magazine.
The North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is a short winged, turboprop light attack and observation aircraft that was developed in the late 1960’s. This two-seat aircraft was specifically designed by North American Rockwell at Columbus, Ohio to fulfill the requirement for the U.S. military as an aircraft for counter-insurgency (COIN) for the Vietnam War. After the Vietnam War the OV-10 Bronco also deployed during the Cold War, Gulf War 1 and recently during the military intervention against ISIS. The OV-10 Bronco could hit a maximum speed of 452 km/h and fly almost 900 km. With the second seat removed, the OV-10 could carry 1 500kg of cargo or five paratroopers. Although the design of this aircraft was unconventional it was very successfully because the OV-10 could also be equipped with a variety of armament such as light bombs, rocket launchers and cannons. The OV-10 Bronco aircraft could take off from short, unimproved runways and even aircraft carriers. This multimission aircraft was faster and more tactically versatile than helicopters, yet slower and more maneuverable than jets. Therefore the OV-10 could be used for observation, forward air control, helicopter escort, armed reconnaissance, light air transport and limited ground attack purposes. The canopy of the OV-10 Bronco was designed for better visibility so this aircraft could also be used for aerial mapping, geology survey and disaster relief. Besides the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps the OV-10 Bronco was also used by foreign air forces in Colombia, Indonesia, Morocco, the Philippines, Venezuela, Thailand and Germany.
The German variant of the OV-10, the OV-10B, was produced as a target tug for West-Germany and were equipped with target towing equipment inside the fuselage. For the German variant of the OV-10 the rear cargo was replaced by a clear dome with a rear seat installed to look backwards out of the aircraft. The OV-10B had no weapons and and no sponsons. In the early 1970’s eighteen OV-10B aircraft were delivered to Germany. Six of these aircraft were equipped with an extra turbojet engine above the wings to increase speed by 100mph. After a successfully career of twenty years the OV-10B was finally replaced in 1991 by the Pilatus PC-9 aircraft. After their retirement, the German Bronco’s were sent to various museums and technical schools or were used as aircraft for Aircraft Battle Damage Repair (ABDR).
In 1999 two Bronco’s were acquired from the Luftwaffe Technical School in Fassberg (99+26 and 99+32). Both aircraft arrived at Duxford, England in September 2001 for restoration. The OV-10 Bronco 99+32 made its maiden post restoration flight in July, 2007 at Duxford after which a first public appearance was made in 2008. Unfortunately this aircraft crashed at the Kemble Airport on July 10, 2012. The second Bronco that was acquired in 1999 was ferried to the Wevelgem Airport in Belgium in November 2015. In 2006 a third OV-10 Bronco was added to the Bronco Demo Team (99+18) and made its first post restoration flight on May 26, 2012. The civil registration of this OV-10, G-ONAA, was especially dedicated to the original aircraft manufacturer “GO North American Aviation”.
Since the restoration of the aircraft, the OV-10B Bronco of the Bronco Demo Team has been seen at multiple aviation events such as airshows and static displays across Europe and North America. Because this unique aircraft received much attention from the general public and aviation press the team received several awards at meetings in the UK and Belgium. As a commemoration of The Great War, the Bronco Demo Team has painted their OV-10 Bronco in 2017 in a beautiful new “poppy” livery. The poppies and “Lest we forget, 1914-18” graphics on the aircraft will bring a message of peace and remembrance to several venues and airshows in 2017. On the 15th of February, 2017 the Bronco Demo Team’s OV-10 Bronco G-ONNA also undertook an unique flight over several World War I battle fields around the Belgian city Ypres. During this seventeen minute flight the OV-10 Bronco flew over the Menin Gate (Ypres), Tyne Cot Cemetery (Passchendaele), the Yser Tower (Diksmuide), the Corridor of Death (Diksmuide) and several other cemeteries and memorials.
Text & photos: Kris Christiaens
Location: Flanders International Airport, Belgium