Bronco restored to glory ahead of Vietnam Veteran’s Day

Bronco restored to glory ahead of Vietnam Veteran’s Day

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.

The Memorial has been working on the front-line Bronco since it arrived from the Philippines on HMAS Tobruk 16 years ago in a disheveled state.

“The OV-10A Bronco stands as an icon of a lesser known story of the alliance between the U.S and Australia, and nowhere was that alliance more evident than with those Australians who flew as a forward air control in Vietnam.” Director of the Australian War Memorial, Matt 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.”

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.

The Memorial’s Kim Wood, a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer, led the restoration at the Mitchell storage facility.

“When it arrived, Bronco 639 was in poor condition. The aircraft was suffering from corrosion, was covered in paint that was not of aviation origin and 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,” Mr Wood said.

“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.”

This announcement comes ahead of Vietnam Veteran’s Day on Friday August 18, 2023.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the conflict in which almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam. Between 1962 and 1973, 523 Australians lost their lives and over 3,000 were wounded.
Source – Australian War Memorial

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