Plane of the Week #5: Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog”

This week’s plane of the week is the A-10 Warthog.

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The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American twin-engine, straight wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. It is the only United States Air Force production aircraft designed solely for close air support, including attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets with limited air defenses.

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The A-10 was designed around the 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon that is its primary armament. The A-10’s airframe was designed for durability, with measures such as 1,200 pounds (540 kg) of titanium armor to protect the cockpit and aircraft systems, enabling it to absorb a significant amount of damage and continue flying. The wings were built with “honeycombs” in them so that they could lose a vertical stabilizer, half of a horizontal stabilizer, half a primary wing, and I believe one engine and keep flying. The A-10A single-seat variant was the only version built, though one A-10A was converted to an A-10B twin-seat version. In 2005, a program was begun to upgrade remaining A-10A aircraft to the A-10C configuration.

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On 25 March 2010, an A-10 conducted the first flight of an aircraft with all engines powered by a biofuel blend. The flight, performed at Eglin Air Force Base, used a 1:1 blend of JP-8 and Camelina-based fuel. On 28 June 2012, the A-10 became the first aircraft to fly using a new fuel blend derived from alcohol; known as ATJ (Alcohol-to-Jet), the fuel is cellulose-based that can be derived using wood, paper, grass, or any cell-based material, and are fermented into alcohols before being hydro-processed into aviation fuel. ATJ is the third alternative fuel to be evaluated by the Air Force as a replacement for petroleum-derived JP-8 fuel. Previous types were a synthetic kerosene derived from coal and natural gas and a bio-mass fuel derived from plant-oils and animal fats known as Hydroprocessed Renewable Jet. This was also the first Air Force plane to by powered by anything other than jet fuel.

This is one of my favorite modern aircraft and it is very unfortunate that they are retiring it soon, but the planes are forty years old, and that’s pretty old for an airplane. They have considered extending their use, though, so that’s what I’m hoping for.

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For some other interesting facts, visit this website: http://www.boldmethod.com/blog/lists/2014/08/13-little-known-facts-about-the-a-10-thunderbolt-2/

Next week: one of the first successful stealth planes.

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Plane of the Week #5: Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog”

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