20 Little Known Facts About The A-10 Thunderbolt

The United States Air Force has only one aircraft dedicated solely to air-to-ground support, the A-10 Thunderbolt II which was named after its illustrious WWII predecessor the P-47 Thunderbolt. It won the hearts of all the ground troops it has assisted over the years with its durability, low maintenance, and powerful weaponry. The A-10’s production began in 1976, and it is still active today, here are 20 amazing facts about it.

1. Affectionate Nickname

The A-10 was nicknamed "Warthog" because of its cumbersome appearance. After many years flying successful missions, the “Warthog” became an affectionate nickname that praised the aircraft’s longevity and grittiness.

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2. High-Level Safety Design

The A-10 cockpit and flight control systems are surrounded by 1,200 pounds of protective armor called the "bathtub." It’s capable of withstanding 50-cal bullets or 23 mm armor-piercing rounds. The wing and tail leading edges are made with a honeycomb panel design, making them more resistant to battle damage.

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3. Heaviest Automatic Cannon

The A-10 carries the most massive automatic cannon ever mounted on an aircraft, the 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger. The gun is approximately 16% of the aircraft’s weight!

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4. Trick Design

Many A-10s have a false canopy painted on the belly of the aircraft to confuse enemy forces about the attitude and direction of the plane.

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5. Maneuverable At Slow Speeds

The A-10’s ailerons are significantly larger than most aircraft, making it highly maneuverable at slow speeds.

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6. Less Damage During Gear-up Landing

The main landing gear wheels of the A-10 stick out from the nacelles even when they are retracted, causing less damage to the aircraft if it has to land gear-up. Additionally, the landing gear is interchangeable and operates on either side, which allows it to be serviced at a forward location and put back in combat much sooner than other aircraft.

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7. Fly In The Extreme Situation

The aircraft is designed to fly with one engine, one tail, one elevator, and half of one wing missing. It can also fly through super-cell thunderstorms and is sometimes used to monitor severe weather systems. They are also equipped with Night Vision Imaging Systems and a Google-enabled seat in the cockpit.

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8. Nine Degrees of Engines

The high-mounted engines are angled 9 degrees upward to stop the aircraft from pitching down.

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9. First Victory of A-10

The A-10’s first air-to-air victory was in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. It shot down a helicopter with the GAU-8 cannon.

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10. A-10 Thunderbolt Monster Truck

There is an A-10 Thunderbolt monster truck used by the Air Force for marketing purposes. It travels around the U.S. and has become a fan favorite at air shows.

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11. Can Be Operated Underneath 1,000-Foot Ceilings

The A-10 can be operated underneath 1,000-foot ceilings with 1.5 mile visibility, this combined with its impressive loiter time, have earned it widespread praise.

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12. Special Loading Ammunition Vehicle

There is a special vehicle created just for loading ammunition into the A-10 Thunderbolt, named "The Dragon."

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13. Take Off and Land From A Short Runway

The A-10 Thunderbolt’s straight, broad wings and wide wheelbase make it possible to take off and land from a short runway, allowing it to fall as close to the front line of battle as possible.

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14. The A-10 Carries More Weight in Weapons

The A-10 carries more weight in weaponry than it weighs itself. It can take a maximum of 13 tons of armament including the GAU-8/A cannon, while it weighs only 12 tons without.

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15. The A-10 Was Built To Survive

The A-10 was built to survive. The hydraulics systems are double-redundant, and a mechanical backup system controls the plane if the hydraulics are lost.

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16. Assisted In The Rescue Mission

An A-10 assisted in the rescue of a downed F-117 pilot in Kosovo in 1999. It provided ground support while three helicopters executed the rescue mission.

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17. Keep The A-10 Alive

In 1973 The Air Force and the U.S. government struck a deal to keep the A-10 alive. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger said he would remove a cap on the number of Air Force fighters if Air Force General George S. Brown, then the USAF Chief of Staff, would commit to supporting the A-10. As a result, it lived on.

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18. Powerful Fighting Capacity

A-10 carries AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, and each of them weighs 670 pounds and can destroy a tank in a single shot. It has an internal fuel capacity of 10,000 gallons, giving the A-10 an 800-mile range. Additionally, the A-10s’ cockpit is outfitted with a bubble canopy that allows 360-degree views of the battlefield.

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19. "Cross of Death"

On the second day of the First Iraq War, two A-10’s destroyed 23 Iraqi tanks across three sorties. This caused Iraqi soldiers to regard the A-10 as the “Cross of Death” because of the plane’s resemblance to a cross from below.

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20. Legendary Aircraft

Over 700 A-10s have been produced in total and together have completed tens of thousands of missions over 37 years; There is no doubt that it’s the most successful close air support aircraft of all time.

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