14 July, 2011

Profile 53 - "236" as flown by the SDANG

Recently, an A-7 came up for sale in the civilian market.  And I missed it.

It's just as well as I don't think I could have flown it smoothly with only one arm and leg.   But I would have tried.  Yes, indeed, I would have tried.

Though the airplane bore the name "Corsair II" in honor of her great uncle, the F4U Corsair, the nickname the A-7 took in practice was "SLUF."   Short for, Short Little Ugly...Feller.   Yet, I distinctly remember seeing A-7s in service and to me, there was nothing ugly about them. The thick-set, high-winged machine was an unmistakable shape that said, "I'm in for the fight."  Of all the SDANG jets, the A-7 is my favorite.

In practice, the A-7 was not a fast aircraft.  In fact, the most widely used versions were subsonic.  As a dogfighter, it didn't particularly excel either.  Though maneuverable enough, her high-wing is designed to bring the airplane the stability necessary for weaponry.  In this role, SLUF did her job admirably.  With 8 hardpoints (6 under the wings, 2 on the fuselage) the little beast could shoulder over seven tons of weaponry into the air.  Iron bombs, laser-guided weaponry, air-to-air missiles and even nukes.  

For the SDANG, the F-16 replaced the A-7.  That had to be a strange moment for the pilots - to go from thick & muddy to sleek & clean.  As a role-airplane, there's no doubt the F-16 is a leap ahead.  Yet for me, the prospect of sitting out there in front, with a burner in the back...like I wrote in the intro, if another comes up for sale, I'll be the happy guy hobbling on the ramp in crutches.

You know what's next...