The primary role of the A-10 Thunderbolt II was to provide close air support for ground forces. The single-seat twin engine A-10 was designed to destroy armored vehicles, tanks, and other fortified targets. It also provided forward air control in advance of other aircraft.
The first A-10 flew in October of 1975, and in March of the next year, the Air Force received the first deliveries of the airplane. A total of 715 A-10 Thunderbolts would be produced before production halted in 1984.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II was anything but a delicate airplane. It could withstand direct hits that would have devastated another aircraft, and returned her crew safely to base. Many stories have been told of a Thunderbolt, commonly known as the Warthog, limping home with gaping holes in its structure, a dead engine, or missing sections of a wing. In large part, the plane’s durability was due to the complex system of backup controls and hydraulic systems, and self-sealing fuel tanks. The retractable wheels were designed to not entirely retract so they could be partially used during belly landings.
Though its two aft engines presented an ungainly appearance, the Warthog was deceptively maneuverable. It could fly slowly at low altitude as well as perform short takeoffs and landings. The A-10 also flew well in adverse weather conditions. Fairchild developed a nighttime adverse weather version of the A-10 for the United States Air Force but the project was eventually canceled. That version of the aircraft would have employed two crew instead of the traditional crew needed for the A-10. The second airman would have been responsible for target acquisition, navigation, and other functions.
Overall, the A-10 has served its purpose well, which was to provide a better offense against ground based enemy units.
Maximum speed: 380 knots
Cruise speed: 300 knots
Ferry Range: 2,240 nm
Ceiling: 45,000 ft
Length: 53 ft 4 in
Wingspan: 57 ft 6 in
Height: 14 ft 8 in
Maximum weight: 50,000 lb
Empty weight: 24,959 lb
Engine(s): two 9,065 General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans
Rate of climb: 6,000 feet per minute
Armament: combination of guns, missiles, bombs, and rockets
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