From 1964-1966, the U.S. Air Force evaluated two modified T-37 trainers, designated YAT-37Ds, as prototypes for a counter-insurgency (COIN) attack/reconnaissance aircraft to use in Southeast Asia. Following this evaluation, the USAF contracted Cessna to modify 39 T-37Bs into A-37As in 1967. Later that year, the USAF sent 25 A-37As, nicknamed "Super Tweets," to Southeast Asia for combat evaluation under the name Combat Dragon. These aircraft primarily flew close air support, night interdiction and forward air control missions in South Vietnam and southern Laos.
Based on the successful results of Combat Dragon, the USAF order newly built A-37Bs, which had cockpit armor, more powerful engines, redundant flight controls, provision for aerial refueling and a strengthened airframe. Of the 577 A-37Bs built, the USAF provided 254 to the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) to replace their aging A-1 Skyraiders. Although the A-37B served with the USAF for only a short period, a number of A-37Bs remained in use with the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as observation/flight attack aircraft until the last one was retired in 1992.
The aircraft on display was one of the two prototype YAT-37Ds evaluated by the USAF. It was retired to the museum in December 1964. However, it was recalled to active service in August 1966 for final design testing of the urgently needed A-37 attack aircraft. This aircraft retired to the museum for a second time in July 1970 as the YA-37A.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: One 7.62mm minigun and 3,000 lbs. maximum of bombs, rockets and/or missiles Engines: Two 2,400-lb. thrust General Electric J85s Maximum speed: 485 mph Cruising speed: 425 mph Range: 270 miles with 3,000 lb. load Ceiling: 36,000 ft. Span: 35 ft. 10 in. Length: 29 ft. 4 in. Height: 8 ft. 2 in. Weight: 11,700 lbs. maximum Serial number: 62-5951