Few modern combat aircraft evoke such strong emotion as the Republic A-10C Thunderbolt ll, aka ‘ ‘Warthog ‘, or just plain ‘Hog’, that I’d be willing to bet there has likely lead to brawls, sometime, somewhere. ( Especially if you toss in some ‘spirits’ of the kind found at the Enlisted Clubs!) Since some of my best buds would tear my head off if I said anything negative,) You know who you are.) [Chuckle] I’m going to talk about the “cool stuff”, and leave the rest out of this particular discussion.
My first ‘in person’ experience with the A-10 was an “A” variant, that performed at The Indianapolis Airshow at Mount Comfort Airport, just east of Indianapolis. It was the first under the name, for many years until budget sequestration two years in a row, killed it when investors pulled out and invested in shows elsewhere. It was the most exciting thing to happen in Indy outside of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. In July, it’s as hot as you know where, and traffic sucks getting in(and out), but it was very exciting, particularly since it was a first for my wife, Debbie and our two daughters Heather 12, and Heidi, 10.(Back then, of course).
The Navy’s Blue Angels, were still flying A-4E Skyhawks, back then, so there were no afterburner effects but those Pratt & Whitney J-52 turbojets could roar enough to make the hair on my neck tingle. Yeah. Like that. The Grumman f-14A Tomcat and the USMC AV-8A both put on a spirited display as one can imagine. But it was the two Republic A-10As, both in Europe 1 camouflage( Lizard Green) paint. I was struck by how large it was. It was impressively sinister, somehow. It was green. Back in the days of the Cold War, Europe was where the action was, metaphorically speaking. The closer , that is myself, the wife and kids, get, the taller it seems, and suddenly there we were . I’m six-one, just a little too tall to actually stand under it, but my wife, Deb, at only five-two, could, could and did. Now we’ve all seen those fasteners that all airplanes share in one form or other. Warthog has a number of them. On the side for the built-in ladder. Underneath the cockpit, etcetera… we’ve a seen them, and most say; “PUSH”. So Deb apparently got a little confused in that she thought that the stenciled message was prompting her ‘do’ instead of the intended purpose of ‘how’ to open the panel ,and, you guessed it; pushed it and this small access door for the ground power plug, just popped open and scared thee crap of her, nearly had me almost peeing my pants, trying not to laugh TOO loudly so as not to attract the attention of the Tech Sergeant, nearby, but I don’t think it worked, be cause the next time I saw that plane, it was roped off. my wife taught them a valuable lesson about Murphy’s Law. If a thing can be done wrong or at an inappropriate time, someone will do it that way, so if you’re wondering why you can’t get close enough to touch, well, there you go.
It’s a bit ironic then, that the Warthog’s ‘baptism of fire’, should take place not among the rolling hills of Europe, but on the dun-colored sands of the Middle East.
The Republic A-10 Thunderbolt ll was born from the lessons learned during the Vietnam War. Both the Air Force and the Navy operated propeller driven Douglas A-1 Skyraiders for the close support combat role. Some crews in theater, called them “Spads”, a not-too-complimentary reference to it’s mode of propulsion , considered technologically outdated, which had some validity. Despite all that, though, did fairly well considering the type had been in service since the Korean War, and attrition was high. In the late 1960s, the airforce began looking for a Skyraider replace and in 1970, issued a formal requirement seeking proposals for aircraft manufacturers. The new plane would be required to fly at a max. speed of 460 m.p.h. an takeoff distance of 4,000 ft. or less and carry a payload of at least 16,000 lbs of ordinance and most notably, mounted a GAU-8 Avenger 3o mm gun.(Big Mother!) Both Republic and Northrop, submitted their proposals; built prototypes for a Demonstration and Validation Fly-off and we all know how it worked out, because here I am writing about A-10C. It’s a bit ironic then, that the Warthog’s “baptism of fire should take place not in the rolling hills of Europe but on the dun-colored sands of the Middle East.
American troops and equipment were mostly in Europe 1 camouflage, more commonly “Lizard paint.”
From a purely visual stand point , Desert Storm was what I can only describe as “surreal”. ( For clarity, I wasn’t station there, but separated from the Army by then, but CNN coverage was pretty good.)American troops and equipment were mostly in Europe 1 more commonly known as “Lizard paint.” including the ‘Warthogs;…all that ‘Green’, in the’ brown’ desert; on air” news casters on U.S. installations and from TV stations in Tel Aviv, were wearing gas masks, during live broadcasts amid Scud missile attacks courtesy of Saddam, promising the “Mother Of all Battles”, while hundreds of Iraqi soldiers surrendered to members of the press , holding leaflets air-dropped by Coalition Forces. I guess he got it right in part , just not in the way he expected. The A-10 along with other Coalition Forces, air, ground and naval, made short work of Saddam’s Forces and the much feared Republican Guards, with one A-10 accounting for 23 armor kills in one day, Another shot down two choppers air to air during that conflict. Shortly after that brief sharp conflict, the A-10 was on the chopping block of ‘military downsizing’ due to the end of the “Cold War”, and it’s days seemed numbered, then 9/11 2001, happened and the ‘Warthog’ got a reprieve and currently, support U.S and NATO troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Honestly, I’m not really sure that this particular article can definitively explain why people love this plane so much. For the troops on the ground, the Republic A-10C, increases their chances of survival. For the ‘folks back home’, that’s also a good thing. Their loved ones get to come back home to see his or her kids grow up. For others, is just plain Badass. On a good note, the U.S. Air Force has announced that it has shelved plans ‘“..indefinitely to retire it’s A-10 fleet” So, while the debate will most likely continue to rage about it’s ultimate future; the “Hog”, shrugs it all off and soldiers on.