Sunday, October 26, 2008

Land-based A-7 Corsair IIs

USAF exchange pilots had flown Navy A-7s in combat, and their favorable reports helped the Air Force take the unusual step of ordering a version of the Corsair for its own use; despite the interservice rivalry aspects, the USAF needed a near-term replacement for the F-100 Super Sabre in the close-air support role. The A-7D model would be based on the Navy's A-7E, with its license-built TF41/Rolls-Royce Spey engine and M61 Vulcan cannon. Initial A-7Ds would have the standard Navy refueling probe, but the USAF style boom receptacle would be standard on all later blocks.

A-7D at the National Museum of the US Air Force
A-7D on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force. This aircraft was the mount of Major Colin Clarke of the 354th TFW, who was awarded the Air Force Cross for a November 1972 mission that covered the rescue of an F-105 crew. Clarke spent the better part of half a day in the air during the successful mission.
A-7Ds did not reach Southeast Asia until 1972, but quickly proved themselves in combat - their modern avionics and great unrefueled endurance were particularly welcome. Among other roles, they took over the Rescue Escort or "Sandy" role from ancient A-1 Skyraiders.

A-7D walk around - nose gear photo
A-7D nose gear

Despite its success over Southeast Asia, the A-7D did not have a long front-line service life with the USAF, as procurement of the A-10 Warthog meant that the earlier aircraft would soon be relinquished to ANG units. Although slower than the elderly Super Sabres it helped replace, the A-7D gave the Guard a very potent strike capability, and the type would remain in service into the early 1990s, receiving updates such the Pave Penny sensor. The ANG also received some of the final A-7s built in the form of a small number of A-7K two-seaters.

A-7Ds deployed to Panama supported the 1989 US invasion of that country, but although they were still in service several years later, they would play no part in Operation Desert Storm. By that time the Slufs were showing their aige; in late December 1988 an example belonging to the New Mexico ANG was lost when a wing separated at the fuselage join area. This loss, combined with a wing fuel loss experienced by another A-7s several month later, led to inspections and the temporary grounding of over 120 aircraft after wing cracks were found.

Although replaced in front line USAF service by the A-10 and in Navy service by the FA-18, the A-7 had considerable development "stretch" left in it, and LTV was anxious to market re-engined and updated versions. The only one of these proposals to actually make it to the hardware stage was the YA-7F, which was in response to a USAF need for a new close-air support aircraft.A new powerplant would be needed, as battlefield threats dictated an increase in speed. The P&W F100 afterburning turbofan was selected for the prototypes, but the GE F110 would also be compatible. The fuselage would have to be stretched to fit the new engines, while the wing structure was reinforced and fitted was new augmented flaps, leading edge extensions and manuevering flaps. The vertical stabilizer height was increased about 10 inches. The YA-7F thus resembled its F-8 Crusader ancestor.

Besides the engine and structural changes, the A-7 Plus featured an updated avionics package including a Forward Looking Infrared FLIR system.

The first flight of the YA-7F was Nov. 29, 1989. The flight test program continued through 1990 with good results; however, the USAF elected to use modified F-16s for the CAS role and cancelled the A-7 Plus program. Had the program been approved, just over 300 existing A-7D airframes would have been reworked to A-7F standard.
via USAF

A good shot of an Iowa ANG SLUF with panels opened up for maintenance

Kits and Aftermarket:
The big 1/32 scale A-7D kit from Trumpeter

The Hobbyboss A-7D model kit

The Hasegawa 1/48 A-7D/E kit

The 'SLUF' in USAF and USANG Service 1968-1993:

Magazine Articles and Photos:

“Vulcan Gun for A-7D” Aviation Week & Space Technology June 5, 1967 p.72

Photo: "USAF/LTV Aerospace A-7D" Aviation Week & Space Technology July 1, 1968 front cover

"USAF A-7D Carries Variety of Ordnance" Aviation Week & Space Technology July 1, 1968 p.20-21 4 photos

"News Digest" Aviation Week & Space Technology September 30, 1968

Photo: "A-7D Corsair Tested with Maverick Missiles" Aviation Week & Space Technology June 1, 1970 p.53

"A-7D Refueling System Tested" Aviation Week & Space Technology June 8, 1970 p.57 3 photos

Photo: A-7D with GEPOD-30 30mm cannon pod. Aviation Week & Space Technology January 12, 1981   p.51

Photo: A-7K 79-0460  Air International April 1982 front cover

Art Hanley "Four For One: The Genesis of Vought's A-7X Strikefighter" Airpower January 1987 p.12-25 16 illustrations

Joe Cupido "A-7 Update" Air Forces Monthly July 1988 p.15-18 12 photos

Photo: Close-up view of a Greek A-7H taking off. World Air Power Journal Vol 8 / Spring 1992  p.93

David F. Brown "Sluf" Air Forces Monthly May 1992 p.20-27 18 photos

Newspaper Articles and Photos:

"9 Killed as Military Jet Plows Into Hotel" New York Times October 21, 1987 p.A22 1 photo


Randy Walker More Painted Ladies; Chapter 8, p.90-95. Color photography from late in the SLUF's career, including coverage of aircraft from the 180th TFG at Toledo, 192 TFG/Virginia ANG, and the 112th TFG at Pittsburgh.

David A. Anderton The History of the U.S. Air Force
p.236-237 Large color 3-view of A-7D 71-335, commander's aircraft from the 355th TFW at Davis-Monthan AFB.

A-7D cutaway diagram, plus an in-flight color shot of three 57th FWW Slufs.
Modern Military Aircraft Anatomy p.198-199

Cockpit picture of the NMUSAF's A-7D

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