Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Warthog Staredown

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, aka the Warthog, is not long on beauty, but it's a pistol-packin' mama the ground-pounders love. The business end of the beast is the GAU-8 30mm cannon in the chin of the airplane. Like the proverbial iceberg, the majority of the 7-barrel rotating cannon's bulk is hidden in the body of the airplane. In truth the whole package, including ammo drum, is the size of an old Volkswagen Beetle.

This A-10 was shot at the 2010 ISAP visit to Nellis AFB. The plane is ready to taxi out to the runway after being cleared at the Last Chance station where all systems are given a final check and all Remove Before Flight pins and flags are pulled. The nose gear is off-set to one side while the cannon is shifted slightly to the other. This is so the firing of each barrel can be at the 9:00 position relative to the barrel's face, but located on the centerline of the aircraft. Centerline firing is important as having asymmetric recoil of that magnitude would not be a good thing.

Two other factoids, the GAU-8 fires ammunition containing a core of depleted Uranium which allows it to penetrate tank armor with devastating effect, and the rate of fire is 3,900 rounds per minute. Since the drum only holds 1,075 rounds, short bursts are necessary.

There is a story of an A-10 shooting down an Iraqi helicopter with its gun during Operation Desert Storm. Since air-to-air kills are rare for most strike aircraft, especially an A-10, the pilot must have gotten excited and unloaded a longer than normal burst on the chopper. It literally shredded the vehicle into lots of little, tiny pieces of metal. Ouch.

No comments:

Post a Comment