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A look back: Ogden ALC takes on OV-10 Bronco project

An OV-10 Bronco aircraft sits inside a hangar.

An OV-10 Bronco waits for final checks and new paint in Flight Test Hangar 1 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Between January 1988 and July 1990, the Ogden Air Logistics Center completed depot maintenance on 22 OV-10s, each requiring 16,000 work hours. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Will Nuttall and Brad Layton working on an OV-10 Bronco.

Will Nuttall and Brad Layton, electrical mechanics in the Ogden Air Logistics Center Directorate of Maintenance at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, during the late 1980s, finishing rewiring an OV-10 instrument panel before its reinstallation. (U.S. Air Force photo)

An OV-10 Bronco sits on the airfield ramp.

The first OV-10 arrived at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for depot maintenance in January 1988. The Air Force used this twin-engine, twin-tail, counterinsurgency aircraft extensively during operations in Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force photo)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

Editor's note: This feature is part of a Hill Air Force Base 80th anniversary series. These articles will feature the base’s historical innovations and achievements, and will highlight mission platforms that have been operated and supported throughout the decades.

In 1988, Air Force Logistics Command shifted a portion of the OV-10 Bronco workload from the San Antonio Air Logistics Center to the Ogden ALC. This resulted in a better balance of skills and workload between the two logistics centers. It also compensated the Ogden ALC for reductions in its F-4 and F-16 workload requirements. The Air Force retired the F-4D and F-4E sooner than originally scheduled and F-16s were requiring less depot maintenance than anticipated.

The first OV-10 arrived at Hill AFB in January 1988. This temporary project required 16,000 workhours per aircraft. The work included structural refurbishment, rewiring, and installation of a secure voice radio on an initially planned 74 OV-10s over a period of five years.

The Ogden ALC completed overhaul on its 22nd and final OV-10 July 1990. The twin-engine, twin-tail, counterinsurgency aircraft originally joined the Air Force inventory in 1967 and North American Rockwell had delivered 157 of the aircraft when its manufacturing ceased in 1969. The Air Force used Broncos extensively during operations in Vietnam as forward air control and support aircraft. OV-10s also often dropped smoke markers over potential targets for attacking bombers.

According to DeWayne Ketchell, the Ogden ALC’s OV-10 program manager, during the first two decades of the aircraft’s service life the only maintenance completed on the Bronco was done so in the field. This resulted in extensive corrosion damage to the skin and airframe, as well as the electrical system. The OV-10 maintenance crew's job included locating the corroded areas and replacing them. Because North American Rockwell ceased making the OV-10 almost two decades prior to the project’s assignment to the Ogden ALC, all of the metal replacement panels had to be designed and fabricated at Hill AFB by the metal shop.

According to a Hilltop Times article published July 1990 about the project, Rick Painter, one of the program supervisors, believed that the OV-10 program wasn’t only about the 22 aircraft the team repaired. It was also about a group of people who successfully did a job no one had previously done. Since no depot maintenance had ever been completed on the OV-10 before, the team had to create the maintenance program as they went.

When AFLC assigned the project to the Ogden ALC they had no documentation on what to do or how to do it. Most of the team members had never even seen the aircraft before, Painter reported. He concluded that because of the hard work and dedication of the OV-10 team, the project was a complete success, despite the difficulties. One validation of the program’s success was the fact that nine consecutive Broncos passed their initial flight inspections – what the maintainers called “first flight sales.” This was a considerable achievement considering the extent of the refurbishment done on the aircraft.