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From the A-7 Corsair to the A-10 Warthog
Sometimes speed is overrated.
I met someone who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. He gave me his list of aircraft when he needed air support. The AC-130 gunship was number one on the list for a night fight. The A-10 and Marine Corps pilots were next on his list.
Extended range and the ability to loiter is one advantage that subsonic aircraft have over the battlefield to provide ground support for troops on the ground.
An old-school aircraft, or at least what we would call old-school today, was the A-7 Corsair.
.Published in Military
The A-10 is wonderful, it always pissed me off how the Air Force types and various senators etc kept trying to kill it.
I have that one, and this one:
All nice, but air superiority is a prerequisite.
Not to forget that the average second rate military can employ man portable heat seeking missiles. As good as a Stinger? Probably not. But quantity does have a quality all its own.
Yup. Then it’s a free-for-all.
During Iraqi Freedom I edited gun camera footage (8mm video) from F-16s targeting tanks, missile launchers, and once a pickup.
Indeed it is. One thing the Russians have not been able to do over Ukraine or Syria. NATO air power won’t waste their time hitting apartment buildings.
When I was in the Air Force some of the pilots in my squadron had flown the A 10 before being sent to our F4 squadron. I also got to fly in the gunner seat of an Army Cobra Gunship, and had a long conversation with a number of Army pilots. At the time both had similar missions, destroy large numbers of Warsaw Pact tanks rolling through the Fulda Gap into Germany.
Both pilots thought the other pilots mission was suicide.
Fortunately, we never got to see if either or both were right….
Obligatory book plugs: Night Hunters is an excellent history and overview of the tactical uses of fixed wing gunships. It starts with the inspiration for the whole concept, when someone noticed that mail planes used to circle around a spot and lower a bucket on a rope to pick up and drop off mail without landing. Hey, why don’t we hit a target on the ground like that?
A Long Voyage to the Moon spends a lot of time on Ron Evans’ career flying Corsairs from carriers, before he became an astronaut. Great stuff.
As always, ask me if you want a free copy of either or both.
Air Supremacy really.
And, in an age of drones, not sure these will remain effective platforms deep into the 21st century.
Regretfully, as an old “earth pig,” I’ve got nothing sleek or sexy to add (memes or memories) other than “Thank you, Lord, for the A-10, and every swingin’ Richard that keeps it in the air!”
I only ever had them over me in training, but they made a believer out of me. And if the only justification for having F-22s and F-16s are to provide top cover for the Warthogs, I can live with that.
As a kid, once my aircraft models were complete they were hung with fishing line from the ceiling. P-47, F4U and A-10 along with a B-17.
The A-10 went into service in 1976, so you must be a youngster.
Turning 54 next week.
I was in Iraq in 2005 with a Marine Infantry battalion and in another Marine Infantry battalion in Afghanistan in 2011.
I think the past 20 years have kind of spoiled us for close air support. With unquestioned air superiority, tactical aircraft like the A-10, F/A-18, etc., are useful but unnecessary. They are massive overkill for speed and they don’t have the payload necessary for the mission. An AC-130 is ideal because it can loiter all day or night and has immense firepower. Typically air support isn’t needed all the time.
In a more matched fight, the problem with the A-10 is that it is way too vulnerable from other aircraft or ground fire. The standard is for stealthiness and there’s no way to retrofit that into an A-10.
Just being honest. I know everyone loves the A-10, and I do too, but we do need to face reality. In a permissive environment it does quite well because of that gun and its payload. But if they have to face a moderately capable somewhat modern enemy, they will be massacred.
Ha. I was making models as late as 1976 and I’m only five years older than you. I don’t think I made an A-10 model, but I did have plane models hanging from my ceiling by fishing wire.
Meh, I prefer my…
Pretty hard to massacre, all things considered.
There are examples of all kinds of planes (except the mostly worthless Harrier) surviving such damage.
And despite the hullaballoo, no plane is “designed” to survive with one wing, and even if it survived, no one is flying it again in that condition. Despite that it saved the pilot’s life, it is a destroyed aircraft, or will take a lot of depot level work to repair it.
Half of one wing. The most valuable component onboard is the pilot.
I believe saving the pilot’s life was the point.
I thought we were discussing it’s military effectiveness. It’s not up to the standard we need. Passive measures to protect aircraft is much much more advanced than the A-10 can ever aspire to. Pilots get home if the plane isn’t even hit because missiles can’t track it.
Protecting the pilot is more difficult for ground-attack/support aircraft which might be easier to hit, but have their own job to do which an F-35 at 30,000 feet or whatever simply cannot do.
And that’s not even getting to the other issues with the F-35 such as cost, amount of maintenance required vs usable flying time, and on and on.
I don’t recall saying an F-35 was a proper replacement. I said the A-10 is not survivable against an enemy with a hint of competence and modernity.
Which is undeniable.
Went a little crazy at times and built models just to burn wings, scorch marking, etc. Those were hung in a “just shot down” position. I think the A-10 was one of the last models I built. ’79 or there abouts. Once I realized working with small parts and inhaling the glue fumes affected my baseball play, I stopped building them. They stayed up until I moved out and my dad “converted” my room to his office.
They have to have more than a hint of competence.
Truthfully, competence is the required element and even our near peer adversaries fail to possess it.