Been reading a lot of old books on the Vietnam War acquired from recent book fairs and apart from than the well known UH-1 “Huey” helicopters, F-4 Phantom IIs, two other interesting aircraft appeared in the books, A-1 Skyraiders used in Sandy rescues of downed pilots and the OV-10 Broncos which served as both an observation platform for forward air controllers (FACs) to direct air strikes and as a weapons platform in direct support of troops on the ground.
The passage below from Chapter 6 Support from The Sea, Air and Land from the Kevin Dockery’s Navy SEALs – A History Part II : The Vietnam Years brought my attention to the Broncos of Light Attack Squadron Four (VAL-4) “Black Ponies” which were one of two Navy air support options for the SEALs udring the Vietnam War, the other being the “Seawolves” of Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HA(L)-3).
Flying small propeller-driven OV-10 Bronco aircraft, the handful of Black Ponies in the skies above the Mekong Delta could loiter on-site for hours. And when a target was available, the Black Ponies could swoop in with unbelievable firepower for their size. Rockets, both 2.75-inch and 5-inch Zunis, would roar out from under the wings of the Black Ponies and blast huge holes in the jungle, or in the enemy formations underneath. Cannon fire from 20mm guns and bullets from 7.62mm machine guns would rip through the ground that had been torn up by the rockets…
Photo displaying the Bronco’s impressive weapon loadout from Captain Donald J. Florko’s article To Ride A Black Pony used without permission from www.blackpony.org.
The story of the conception and development of this fascinating aircraft can be found at the website of Colonel KP Rice (USMC, Retired) who served as the Department of Defense Program Manager for the OV-10 and is now showcasing his flying car Volante as a viable form of private aviation.Aircraft Military