Warthog

Warthog : Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War (1993) by William Smallwood is a book that describes the operations of the A-10 in the Gulf War of 1990-91. The book assembles information from conversations with various A10 pilots.

The book cheer-leads  for the A-10, a heavily armoured ground attack plane that proved successful in the Gulf War. The plane was built to perform Combat Air Support for ground troops. It had been found during Vietnam the fast jets were too fast and that the vintage propeller driver Skyraider was no longer capable. The A-10 is built around a 30mm cannon that is large as a small car. In addition it carries various bombs and guided munitions. The chief designer, Pierre Sprey, got his other designers to read Hans-Ulrich Rudel’s book Stuka Pilot about flying Stukas in WWII. The plane was not popular with the Air Force that preferred fast jets but the success in the Gulf War prompted a reassessment of the aircraft and it is now scheduled to remain in service until 2028. The A-10 is credited with destroying about half the vehicles destroyed by Allied Air Forces during the war for the loss of only a hand full of aircraft.

In the book Smallwood writes about how the A-10 was so effective that it was used for deeper strikes including raids on Scud missile launchers. The A-10 also became a night fighter after it was noticed that at night the turbofan engines were quiet and the aircraft was fairly quick.

For anyone interested in the A-10 and the role of modern air power the book is a well worth a read. The writing isn’t bad and the book is also pleasantly brief. It also avoids much of the usual overly patriotic fervor and keeps to the story.

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