NOTE: Thailand has retired their entire OV-10C fleet as of early 2004. All airframes have been transferred to the Philippine Air Force.
Thirty-two OV-10C airframes were supplied to Thailand for use in the COIN role. The Thai OV-10Cs are not former USAF aircraft, instead, all were built as original C-model airframes at North American Rockwell in Columbus, Ohio. The first 16 (158396-158411) were assigned Thai numbers of 1/2513, 2/2513 and 3/2514-16/2514. These were cocooned and sent via carrier (USS Okniawa) to NAF Cam Ranh Bay, RVN in June 1971. The second group of 16 (159134-159149) were delivered in 1973 and assigned Thai numbers 17/16 through 32/16. All were ferried across the Pacific with 15 of the 16 flown by Col. Charles Quilter, USMCR (Ret.), working as a contract pilot for SKYWAYS, Inc. Charlie was a member of the USMC Reserve OV-10 Squadron at El Toro (VMO-4). He had flown F-4's in RVN while on active duty.
(Thanks to OBA Historian Chuck Burin for details on these aircraft.)
Several sources have put the number of Thai airframes at 38. This is incorrect. Thailand obtained only 32 OV-10Cs. Brendan Searle gives us more clarification and research from the Land Down Under:
I just had a browse in our library. The following books all confirm 32
OV-10C's total (delivery completed September 1973):
1) Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1974-75
2) Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook 1996
3) The Naval Institute Guide to World Military Aviation 1995
4) Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft
5) Encyclopedia of World Air Power
The most interesting was reference 4:
Rockwell developed several production versions generally similar to the OV-10A. Thirty-two OV-10Cs were delivered to the Royal Thai air force in 1971-74, of which 24 remain with No.411 Squadron at Chiang Mai and No.711 Squadron at Surat Thani. A further order for six was apparently not undertaken.
Obviously the "38" came from 32 delivered plus another 6 ordered, but that order was subsequently cancelled.
Reference 3 contains an Aircraft Census for RTAF listing:
Rockwell OV-10C Bronco <15 COIN & FAC (w/drawn or stored)
Reference 2 lists an Air Force Battle Order:
411 Sqn. with 13 Rockwell OV-10C Bronco COIN
No other units are listed as operating Bronco's. 711 Sqn is listed:
711 Sqn. with 10 F-5E (aggressor training)
All perfectly clear now :-)
I think we can be confident that 32 were delivered, but I might have to revise down my guess at the number of airworthy RTAF Bronco's... probably
10-15 right now and I expect that'll run down as they get closer to replacement.
In addition, at least some of Thailand's airplanes have been modified to carry 12.7mm .50-cal machine guns in place of the standard 7.62mm M60s.
Todd Jewell sent us some good first-hand info about this modification and other topics:
My information is a little dated, but the Thais used to fly OV-10s in two squadrons: one in Chiang Mai and the other in Surat Thani. I had the pleassure of flying with the Surat squadron back in 1988 as part of a Mobile Star Training Team. I was there shortly after the Chiang Mai squadron lost an airplane in a border skirmish with Laos. We helped them refine their FAC skills, which wasn't the primary mission of their OV-10s at the time (at least not the way we practiced it.) Their aircraft were used in the attack role and, believe it or not, air defense. The Chiang Mai squadron sat air defense alert and would be the first aircraft to engage intruders from the North. The Thai F-16s were just coming on-line at this time so I'm sure the roles were adjusted subsequently. Although, due to their proximity to the border, Chiang Mai may have kept this role much longer.
The aircraft were pretty vanilla C-models (looked like the USAFs A-models), with one exception. The Thais removed the four 7.62s and installed a 50 cal in each sponson. Small ammunition storage wells extended into the cargo bay adjacent to each sponson. I don't remember how many rounds they carried. The OV-10 was so good at light attack that, prior to the arrivial of the F-16s, they always won the annual bomb competition in Kurat (their version of Gunsmoke). Proves when it comes to iron sights, low and slow is better.
19th and 22nd TASS, 1985-1988
I thought this OV-10A was a US Marines ship. However, we got some new info in (as of Aug. 99) from Drew Sonetirot:
I know the location of that OV-10. It is located over Bangkok, Thailand. I have the same picture in a Thailand pocket book, showing all the Thai Air Force's aircraft. It's the same picture.
However, sometimes books pull stock photos from a drawer someplace... I once saw a picture of an F/A-18 demonstrating an afterburner takeoff... in a book about the history of F-15s. So, Thai or USMC? Who knows. Thai works for me. In any case, this picture came from the Bronco page at http://22.214.171.124/dtm/4480/chpt9/bronco/67h02.htm
This aircraft, called a T.05, is at the Royal Thai Aircraft Museum. We are unclear on exactly what relationship this has to OV-10s, perhaps little to none. In any case, it's similar enough to be of some note. The site http://www.canit.se/~griffon/aviation/text/rtaf_mus.htm says of it:
TO.5, indigenous abandoned project, similar to a Bronco, but with a single pushing 3-bladed prop. White with blue trim, yellow bands on the fins. Intended to replace the O-1 Bird Dog and OV-10 Bronco.
The picture above came from http://www.kuai.se/~griffon/travels/thailand/rtaf_m01.jpg.