Cessna L-19E Bird Dog EI-2
The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) acquired five L-19E from the United States Government for a nominal sum. The surplus Italian Army Aviation aircraft were flown from Viterbo, Italy to Malta in January 1992. In Air Squadron service, the type was used for pilot training, observation, coastal patrol, photography and target towing. The Bird Dog was a beauty in the air but a beast on the ground - the ground loop being it's Achilles heel. This aircraft was involved in such a ground loop on 5 May 1992. Deemed not worth repairing, it was set aside in a hangar at Luqa where it lingered for eight years. The Bird Dogs were replaced by four ex-Royal Air Force BAe Bulldogs in March 2000 (registered: AS0020 - AS0023) followed by a fifth unit in 2001 (reg. AS0124). The four other AFM Birddogs were sold to an American buyer eight months later.
Charlie Bravo (c/n 305M-0029 ex-Italian Army MM61-2972/EI-34) is on permanent loan at the Malta Aviation Museum from the AFM Air Squadron, wears the original Italian (adopted also by the Maltese) colour scheme with AFM markings.
The dust of the Second World War had hardly settled before the United States Army began the inevitably slow task of procuring new aircraft which, based upon immediate past experience, would hopefully be free of the shortcomings of their predecessors. In the late 1940s the specification for a two-seat liaison and observation monoplane was circulated to US manufacturers of light aircraft, and the Cessna Aircraft Company's submission was declared the winner. In June 1950 an initial order was awarded for 418 examples of the aircraft which Cessna identified as the Model 305A.
Cessna's design was based upon their successful model 170, a light-weight high-wing monoplane. The Model 305A differed by having the aft fuselage redesigned, the turtleback of the 170 disappearing so that a window could give a clear view to the rear, and by the provision of transparent panels in the wing centre-section, which formed the cabin roof. A wider access door was provided so that there was room to load a standard stretcher, for which support brackets were installed.
Deliveries of production aircraft began in December 1950, under the designation L-19A and with the name Bird Dog. The final production variant, the L-19E with a higher gross weight, brought the grand total of Bird Dogs to 3,431. The aircraft was supplied to many nations and licensed produced by Fuji in Japan. Bird Dogs were operated in small numbers during the Korean War and large numbers in the Vietnam conflict.
The aircraft after restoration