There aren’t many aircraft that instil such fear into the hearts ofthe enemy that they gain their own moniker, but the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is one of the few that does – ‘Whispering Death’.
The name ‘Whispering Death’ was given to the Warthog – or ‘Hog’, as it is known to those who fly and maintain it – by soldiers of the Iraqi Republican Guard.
These elite troops had enforced the will of their dictator, Saddam Hussein, and invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990. The invasion had been a rout despite some courageous resistance from Kuwaiti military units, but when an American-led Coalition arrived in the region and engaged the Iraqi forces in the early hours of 17 January 1991 the victor rapidly became the loser.
From on high, A-10s engaged Iraqi armour, infantry and fixed positions, their TF-34 turbofans so quiet that their victims scarcely heard them coming. Whispering Death indeed.
But there was more to this than just a name – the requirements for the A-10 had been written in blood on the battlefields of Vietnam, culminating in 1969 with the US Department of Defense asking defence contractors to submit proposals for a new attack aircraft that could survive the sort of pummelling that the North Vietnamese could dish out day in, day out.
Since then the A-10 has lived a tumultuous life – an airframe that the Air Force had never really wanted.
But then, in late 1990, and on the precipice of early retirement, the A-10 finally came alive and silenced its critics, doing at last what it had been born to do.
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is the world’s undisputed close air-support attack jet.
As tough as it is ugly, it has built a fearsome reputation as a tank buster and infantry killer in conflicts around the globe, and its GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon strikes fear into the hearts of all unlucky enough to be on the wrong side.
In our new Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II Manual Steve Davies gets up close and personal to look at the Hog's anatomy, engines and firepower, as well as presenting compelling first-person insights into what it takes to fly and maintain.