Fairchild A-10 'Thunderbolt', RIAT 2011 ©Nigel Key
Close Air Support Attack Aircraft.
5 April 1972.
The A-10 was designed with a cantilever low-wing and a large surface area. The leading edge has a honeycomb structure which gives strength with minimal weight.
The panels creating the ‘skin’ of the aircraft are non-load bearing, so damaged panels can be replaced relatively easy in the field.
The ailerons are much larger than typical, providing improved control even at slow speeds.
The A-10 was designed to be serviced with minimum effort, with many of the aircrafts parts being interchangeable between the left and right hand sides such as the engines, landing gear and vertical stabilisers.
The aircraft was designed to operate from damaged or short runways or even straight roads.
To enable the 30mm cannon in the nose to be fitted centrally, the front landing gear is offset to the aircraft’s right.
The A-10 was designed with double-redundant hydraulic systems and even a mechanical back-up, in the unlikely event that the hydraulics was lost completely, enabling the aircraft to return to base.
The cockpit and areas of the flight control system were protected by titanium armour. Armoured areas of the cockpit were also covered with multi-layer nylon spall to protect the pilot from shell fragmentation.
The aircraft was also designed to be flown on one engine, one half of the tail, one elevator or even half a wing missing.
The A-10 Thunderbolt was produced between 1972 and 1984, with 716 being built.
2 x General Electric TF34-GE-100s, producing 18,130 lb st.
Press play to hear the A-10
1 x GE GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon
16,000 lb (7,257 kg) Bomb/Rocket/Missile load.
The first operational unit to use the A-10 Thunderbolt was the 355th Tactical Training Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in March 1976.
The first combat ready unit to operate the A-10 Thunderbolt was the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in October 1977.
Deployment of A-10 Thunderbolts followed in the US and Abroad, including England, Alaska, South Korea and Germany.
The U.S. Air Force had intended to replace the A-10 with the F-35 but this has yet to be seen as with various upgrades the A-10 could continue in service to 2040.
|Crew - 1|
|Length - 53ft 4in (16.26m)|
|Wingspan - 57ft 6in (17.53m)|
|Height - 14ft 8in (4.47m)|
|Empty Weight - 21,451lb (9,730kg)|
|Max. Weight - 50,000lb (22,680kg)|
|Max. Speed - 518 mph (835 km/h)|
|Range - 620 miles (1,000 km)|