279th Review Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II- The ‘Warthog’ Ground Attack Aircraft- Peter C Smith
Developing the A-10
Killing tanks is what this one purpose warplane was designed for, and during the Gulf Wars she fulfilled this job par excellence! That, in a nutshell, is what this book is about. After WW I the US Army frequently expressed its dissatifaction with Close Air Support (CAS) delivered by Air Force planes. During WW II the P-47DThunderbolt (The Jug) was the make do solution and during the Vietnam War the semi obsolete propellor driven Navy AD Skyraider was taken out of moth balls. For no contemporary Jet Fighter could provide the dearly needed support for the “boots in the mud”. In 1964 the US Army started a study for Advanced Aerial Fire Support which lasted for seven years. They went as far as asking long retired Luftwaffe Major Hans-Ulrich Rudel, THE Tank Destroyer Surprime (500+ tanks !) and of course veteran (Army) Air Force and Marine Corps pilots for their Lessons to Learn.
The outcome was a plan surprisingly equal to the Junkers Ju.87G “Gustav” Panzerknacker ! That is to say that the basic design requirements were nearly a blueprint of its German predecessor. Then a long and hard fight erupted between USAF hot & high proponents and army boots in the mud supporters. The Army and Air Force reached a truce with the arrangement that the Air Force would fly the planes for the Army. So the competition for developing and producing this plane could start in earnest. Both Fairchild and Northrop took up the glove and produced a prototype. Fairchild’s A 10 came out as the winner. But, also interestingly, the Russians adopted the Northrop A9 as their favorite, copied it and the Sukhoi SU 30 CAS fighter saw extensive service in Afghanistan, Ghechnya, and Syria.
Gulf War experiences
The Gulf War experiences and lessons-learned leading to improvements fill the rest of this voluminous book. For the A10 C is still alive and kicking! However, with the end of the Cold War the resultant deep American military cutbacks took their toll also for the A 10 with many aircraft prematurely retired to museums and the like. This book provides a list of the places where these Thunderbolt II’s can be found.
And last but not least, fire fighting the growing Wildfire threat and Storm Penetrating missions were the civil spin off for this rugged ultra-strong built warplane. It remains to be seen whether or not these derivate A10’s will see civil use. The writer’s writing style in this ‘A-10 book’ is easy reading, although somewhat overwhelming with details. The illustrations and photos are of excellent quality and bountiful. Both for the technically and people oriented readers this book is certainly fulfilling their wishes.