The Australian War Memorial has unveiled a fully restored North American Rockwell OV-10A Bronco, model 639, which played a key role in the Vietnam War.
CAPTION: North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco 639 at at the AWM’s Trealor storage facility in Mitchel, ACT. Photo by David Whittaker.
AWM has been working on the front-line Bronco since it arrived from the Philippines on HMAS Tobruk 16 years ago in a disheveled state.
Director of the Australian War Memorial Matt Anderson said the Bronco was an icon of a lesser-known story of the alliance between the US and Australia, and nowhere was that alliance more evident than with those Australians who flew as forward air control in Vietnam.
“A total of 36 RAAF pilots flew with the USAF 19th and 20th Tactical Air Support Squadrons, with 23 of those pilots flying in Bronco aircraft,” Mr Anderson said.
“Every step in this restoration process has been about overcoming challenges – from bringing it back to Australia to the intricacies of the needed repairs.
“This restoration stands as a testament to the perseverance of the FAC veterans who saw the Bronco as an item of great personal importance and ensuring that this aircraft remains a living memory of service and sacrifice.”
AWM’s Kim Wood, a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer, led the restoration at the memorial’s Mitchell storage facility.
“When it arrived, Bronco 639 was in poor condition,” Mr Wood said.
“The aircraft was suffering from corrosion, was covered in paint that was not of aviation origin – more akin to what would be used on an outdoor building structure or a bridge.
“It was full of rubbish, old rats nests, and generally filthy.
“To start, the fuselage had to be disassembled, paint stripped, cleaned out, corrosion treated, repaired where required then reassembled.
“It was also repainted to represent the aircraft as it stood on the flight line in Vung Tau 13 July 1970 Vietnam.”