Select Page

Phil Phillips Cessna O1-A Bird Dog


Model ID#:





Bird Dog







Phil Phillips

Model Scale:




historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1992

SKU: Model-1057 Categories: ,

The Cessna O-1 Bird Dog is a liaison and observation aircraft that first flew on December 14, 1949 and entered service in 1950 as the L-19 in the Korean War. It went to serve in many branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and was not retired until the 1970s. A number of variants also served in the Vietnam War. It was also called the OE-1 and OE-2 in Navy service, flying with the Marine Corps, and in the 1960s it was re-designated the O-1. It remains a civilian-flown warbird aircraft, and there are examples in aviation museums. It was the first all-metal fixed-wing aircraft ordered for and by the United States Army following the Army Air Forces’ separation from it in 1947. The Bird Dog had a lengthy career in the U.S. military as well as in other countries, with over 3400 produced.

The 219th Aviation Company “Headhunters” was the largest unit of its type during the Vietnam War. Over 5,000 personnel were assigned to the unit from its activation in March 1965 to its deactivation in December 1971. The diversity of combat operation areas demanded a wide variety of pilot training and excellent flight skills, plus a well above average dedication of all company ground support personnel to maintain a fleet of aircraft spread over a large area. During the time from activation to deactivation the 219th Aviation Company suffered the most casualties of any O-1 Birddog unit. A total of fifteen pilots and seven observers were killed in combat. Two pilots and two observers are still missing in action (MIA).

The concept for an organization dedicated to the Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog originated with Mr. Phil Phillips of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Phil had served as a U.S. Army Aviator in Vietnam and had flown numerous combat missions in the Bird Dog. Once back in the States and beginning a career in the private sector, he thought affectionately about the humble little warbird from Cessna that had served him so well. There was very little printed material about this noteworthy airplane and worse yet there was not a single flyable example anywhere near his hometown that would allow him to borrow a few minutes of “cockpit time” to reacquaint himself with his old mount. He set about to correct both problems.

Phillip Phillips restored this WWII and Korea vintage Cessna O-1A Bird Dog, N219-TH artillery spotter and liaison aircraft. Phil was president of International Bird Dog Association. His restored aircraft bore markings of the 219th Aviation Company from his Vietnam experience. The aircraft, called the “Saigon Tea”, was restored beginning in March of 1992

Several O-1A Bird Dogs similar to what Phillips restored are shown in the photos.