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Douglas O-2

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere
Type Observation plane
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Produced 1924
Variants Douglas O-38
Douglas XA-2
Douglas M-1

The Douglas O-2 is a 1920s American observation aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company.


The important family of Douglas observation aircraft sprang from two XO-2 prototypes, the first of which was powered by the 420-hp (313 kW) Liberty V-1650-1 V-engine and test-flown in the autumn of 1924. The second XO-2 was powered by the 510-hp (380 kW) Packard 1A-1500 Vee engine, which proved unreliable. The US Army ordered 45 0-2 production aircraft in 1925, these retaining the XO-2's welded steel tube fuselage, wooden wings and overall fabric covering but at the same time introducing aluminium panels on the forward fuselage. The XO-2 had been flown with short and long-span wings, the latter giving improved handling and therefore being specified for the production aircraft. The fixed tailskid landing gear included a main unit of the divided type, the horizontal tail surface was strut braced, and the engine was cooled by a tunnel radiator.[1]

The 0-2 proved to be a conventional but very reliable biplane which soon attracted orders for 25 more aircraft: 18 0-2A machines equipped for night flying and six 0-2B dual-control command aircraft for the US Army, plus one civil 0-2BS modified specially for James McKee, who made a remarkable solo transCanada flight in September 1926. In 1927 the O-2BS was adapted as a threeseater with a radial engine.[1]

The O-2Hs were an entirely new design but continued the same basic model number. Major differences were heavily staggered wings, a more compact engine installation, and clean landing gear secured to the fuselage.[2]


O-2 - Initial production model - 45 built.[1]

O-2A - O-2 with night flying equipment - 18 built.[1]

O-2B - Dual control version of O-2 - six built.[1]

O-2C: These differed from the 0-2 in having frontal radiators for their Liberty engines and modified oleo-strut landing gear. The USAAC took delivery of 19 aircraft, while the remaining 27 went to reserve National Guard units - 32 built and one conversion from O-9.[1]

O-2D: Unarmed staff transport versions of the 0-2C - two built.[1]

O-2E: A one-off aircraft which replaced the wire link between upper and lower wing ailerons of production aircraft by rigid struts.[1]

O-2H: The fuselage was redesigned and a new tailplane was fitted, with staggered wings of unequal span. The O-2H incorporated the rigid-strut aileron interconnections of the 0-2E. An improved split-axle landing gear was standard. The USAAC received 90 O-2Hs between 1928 and 1930, and the National Guard a further 50 - 141 built.[1]

O-2J: Unarmed dual control version of the 0-2H for service as USAAC staff transports - three built.[1]

O-2K/BT-1: A slightly modified version of the O2J for US Army staff transport and liaison duties. Total production was 37 for the USAAC and 20 for the National Guard - 59 built.[1]

O-2M series: various export versions of O-2 that saw services with Republic of China Air Force. These aircraft were used as scout-bombers by the Chinese in the Second Sino-Japanese War with somewhat limited success against Japanese ground targets. It was also used by the Mexican Air Force with Lewis and Vickers machine guns, with very good results.

XO-6: Five all-metal O-2s, built in the mid-1920s by [Thomas-Morse].[1]

XO-6B: Radically altered (smaller and lighter) version of the XO-6 - one built.[1]

O-7: Three 0-2s with the 510-hp (380 kW) Packard 2A-1500 direct-drive engine. Two were later converted to 0-2 standards, and one to the O-2C standard.[1]

O-8: One aircraft with the 400-hp (298 kW) Curtiss R-1454 radial engine instead of the intended Packard inverted-Vee engine. It later became an 0-2A.[1]

O-9: One aircraft with the 500-hp (373 kW) Packard 3A-1500 geared engine. It resembled the 0-7 but had a four rather than two bladed propeller. It later became an O-2A.[1]

XO-14: One reduced-scale version of an 0-2H, with a 220 hp (164 kW) Wright J-5 engine,[2] and the first Douglas aircraft with wheel brakes.[1]

XA-2: The 46th aircraft of the original 0-2 contract was completed as an attack machine with the powerplant of one 420-hp (313 kW) V-1410 Liberty inverted-Vee engine, and with a total of eight machine-guns (two in the engine cowling, two each in the upper and lower wings, and two on a ring-mounting operated by the observer). It was remarkably well armed for its day, and competed against the Curtiss A-3 in 1926 but was not selected for production.[1]

OD-1: Two O-2Cs for service with the US Marine Corps from 1929.[1]

O-22: Three identical to O-2H except for the installation of a swept-back upper wing and a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine.[2]

O-25: One late-type O-2H airframe with a Curtiss Conqueror engine, and a revised nose.[2]

O-25A: Forty-nine production versions of the O-25.[2]

Y1O-29: Later designated O-29A: was an O-2K fitted with a Wright R-1750 Cyclone engine.[2]

O-32/BT-2: Pratt & Whitney R-1340-3 Wasp engine, most later fitted with anti-drag rings.[2] BT-2s were designated A-4 for use as radio-controlled target drones.

  • One O-32/BT-2
  • 30 O-32A/BT-2A
  • 146 BT-2B
  • 20 BT-2C

O-34: The last O-22 with a Curtiss Conqueror engine.[2]

O-38: See Douglas O-38

Specifications (0-2)

Data from The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft [3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: two
  • Length: 28 ft 9 in (8.76 m)
  • Wingspan: 39 ft 8 in (12.09 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 6 in (3.2 m)
  • Wing area: 411 sq ft (38.18 m^2)
  • Empty weight: 3,032 lb (1,375 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 4,785 lb (2,170 kg)
  • Powerplant:V-1650 Liberty V-12 piston engine, 420 hp (313 kW)



  • Two .30-cal (7.62 mm) Browning machine guns, one fixed forward-firing and one flexible
  • 400 lb (181 kg) of disposable stores carried under the lower wing


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 "The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft" cover Editors: Paul Eden & Soph Moeng, (Amber Books Ltd. Bradley's Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London, NI 9PF, 2002, ISBN 0-7607-3432-1), 1152 pp.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "United States Military Aircraft Since 1909" by F. G. Swanborough & Peter M. Bowers (Putnam New York, ISBN 085177816X) 1964, 596 pp.
  3. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft Editors: Paul Eden & Soph Moeng, 2002, ISBN 0-7607-3432-1, page 614.

See also

Template:USAAF observation aircraft Template:USAF trainer aircraft Template:USAAF drones

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Douglas O-2".