The A-10 Thunderbolt II (nicknamed Warthog) is one of my favorite American military planes. Why is that? Well it’s partly because of it’s unusual look, and partly because of its trademark 30mm GAU-8 Gatling gun. Its gun is also its trademark, shooting up to 70 uranium depleted rounds every second!
When it first came out in 1976, part of the army didn’t have much faith in the beginning in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, because they preferred high flying, high tech airplanes like the F-15 and F-16 with precision munition.
The A-10 proved its worth in Desert Storm when the oil well fires caused by Sadam Hussein, made high level precision bombing useless because of the thick black smoke. With it’s low level, low speed flying, the Warthog could take down ground targets, without any guided munition, using only its cannon or unguided bombs.
The A-10 was designed for these kind of missions. Being a ground attack/close air support airplane, it has titanium armor, that can withstand projectile direct impacts of up to 20mm. In case of damage, it is thought to be able to land with half a wing missing, with no hydraulic systems, one engine, one elevator and one tail. It has two hydraulic backups and a mechanical one! No that’s resistance!
The most famous account of an A-10 returning to base is that of Kim Campbell, which had no hydraulic systems, and managed to stay in air for another hour, before safely landing back to base. (picture on the left)
The Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II is powered by 2 General Electric TF34-GE-100 engines, each capable of generating more than 4112 kilos of force. From wing to wing it measures 17.42m, it has a length of 16.16m and a height of 4.42m. It’s max weight is 22950 kg and its maximum speed is 723 km/h, but it usually flies at around 300 km/h an ideal speed for destroying small ground targets.
The A-10 Warthog in action in Iraq (very impressive):
- 1 GAU-8/A 30mm cannon with 1174 projectiles
- GBU-10 PAVEWAY II
- GBU-12 PAVEWAY II
- GBU-24 PAVEWAY III
- BSU-49 BALOOT
- BSU-50 BALOOT
- CBU-87 TMD
- CBU-89 TMD
- CBU-97 TMD
- BLU-107 DURANDAL
- Mk20 MOD 4 ROCKEYE
- Mk36 DESTRUCTOR
- Mk82 SNAKEYE
- AIM-9 SIDEWINDER
- AIM-120 AMRAAM
- AGM-65 MAVERICK
- AGM-114 HELLFIRE
- Unguided WASP rockets: 70mm HVAR
Variants for the A-10 Thunderbolt II:
- FAIRCHILD YA-10 THUNDERBOLT II
- FAIRCHILD A-10A THUNDERBOLT II
- FAIRCHILD OA-10 THUNDERBOLT II