A-7 Corsair II (Family)

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Description

The LTV A-7 Corsair II is a family of 1960s-era attack aircraft used for Close Air Support and light strike, developed from the F-8 Crusader.

Vehicles

Rank VII

  • A-7D Corsair II, a variant for the USAF used to fill the gap in slow-speed, long-endurance CAS aircraft. It incorporated a license-produced version of the Rolls-Royce Spey engine as opposed to earlier aircraft with the Pratt & Whitney TF-30, as well as featuring the first Heads-Up-Display with a computerized weapons delivery system on an aircraft.
  • A-7E Corsair II, the penultimate USN variant incorporating the same improvements in engine power and cockpit display of the A-7D, and with a much-expanded weapons fit and loadout.

History

The LTV A-7 Corsair II is a family of American 1960s-70s subsonic carrier-capable light attack aircraft, manufactured by Ling-Temco Vought, developed initially for the US Navy as a low-cost attack aircraft to replace the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The USAF used a variant of A-7, the A-7D, as a replacement for A-1 Skyraiders (AD) to fill the gap in US service for a slower-moving close air support aircraft with long loiter time and high weapon loads, as opposed to faster, multi-role aircraft with less endurance, such as the F-4 Phantom II. Based on the F-8 Crusader, the aircraft served from the 1960s into the 1990s, receiving multiple upgrades to its capabilities and weapons fits.

Initial A-variants for the USN used a Pratt & Whitney TF-30-P-6 engine, but this engine was found to be underpowered and deficient, resulting in the adoption of the TF-30-P-8 variant of the same engine. In 1964, the USAF was pressured to adopt a dedicated low-speed, subsonic aircraft for dedicated Close Air Support, and in 1965, the USAF announced its decision to procure a variant of A-7 under the tentative name "A-7D". In part due to a shortage of TF-30s, the USAF decided to use Allison's license-produced adaptation of the Rolls-Royce Spey RB.168, also used in the F-4K and F-4M, known as the TF-41-A-1. While this decision was highly controversial on both sides of the Atlantic, it was also wildly successful, giving the A-7 a much-needed power boost, as well as enjoying an excellent rate of specific fuel consumption compared to turbojet-powered aircraft such as the F-4J/S Phantom. The US Air Force favoured the 20 mm M61 Vulcan over the USN's 20mm Colt Mk 12 and Colt Mk 11, and incorporated the Vulcan into their aircraft.

The A-7D entered USAF service in 1970. 1972, it was pressed into service as an escort aircraft for Helicopter Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR, or Caesar), flying under the callsign "Sandy", like the A-1s that preceded it. While the A-7 was found to be a little too fast for the role of helicopter escort, its endurance was warmly welcomed, and it continued to serve in this capacity as well as as Close Air Support well into the early 90s. Initially built without any capability for guided weapons as a replacement for the Skyraider, modifications in its service life included integration of Paveways and Mavericks into the airframe, as well as the addition of internal chaff and flare dispensers. The A-7D was the first aircraft to use a Heads-Up Display with a computerized weapons delivery system. While considered standard on modern aircraft, for the 1970s, this feature was completely revolutionary at a time when reflector sights were still the norm.

The USN's A-7E entered service a little later in 1970, and incorporated the same improvements and advanced features as the A-7D, such as the Vulcan cannon, Allison TF-41-A-2 Spey and the computerized weapons system, with small adjustments and changes to better suit the USN's needs. This included guided weapons capability from the outset, reflected by the aircraft's ability to use Walleyes and early data-link pods. The A-7E was used heavily in Vietnam and beyond, and last saw combat service with the US Navy dropping upgraded versions of Walleyes against targets in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, fighting alongside the aircraft that it was originally designed to replace- the A-4, which served in the Kuwaiti Air Force.

The Corsair II retired from Regular USAF and USN service in 1991, and Air National Guard service in 1993. Foreign nations would go on to use it for longer. The Hellenic (Greek) Air Force was the last air force to retire their A-7s. Finally deciding to retire them in 2014, the A-7 last flew in Greek service nearly 60 years after the aircraft first flew in September of 1965.

References

  • NAVAIR 01-45AAE-1, A-7C/E Flight Manual. Washington, D.C., USA: US Navy. 1 March 1973.
  • Connors, J. (2010). The Engines of Pratt & Whitney: A Technical History. Reston. Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
  • "A Corsair by any other name: The Story of Sandy, SLUF and the Little Hummers". Air International. 22 (3): 121–125, 143–146. March 1982.


Chance Vought Aircraft
Fighters  F4U-1A · F4U-1A (USMC) · F4U-1C · F4U-1D · F4U-4 · F4U-4B · F4U-4B VMF-214
Float planes  OS2U-1 · OS2U-3
Attackers  AU-1
Bombers  SB2U-2 · SB2U-3
Jet aircraft  A-7D · A-7E · F8U-2 · F-8E
Export  V-156-B1 · V-156-F · ▄Corsair F Mk II · F4U-7 · ▄F-8E(FN)
Captured  ▅F4U-1A

USA jet aircraft
F-4  F-4C Phantom II · F-4E Phantom II · F-4J Phantom II
F-5  F-5A · F-5C · F-5E
F-8  F8U-2 · F-8E
F-80  F-80A-5 · F-80C-10
F-84  F-84B-26 · F-84F · F-84G-21-RE
F-86  F-86A-5 · F-86F-25 · F-86F-2 · F-86F-35
F-89  F-89B · F-89D
F-104  F-104A · F-104C
F9F  F9F-2 · F9F-5 · F9F-8
FJ-4  FJ-4B · FJ-4B VMF-232
Other  P-59A · F2H-2 · F3D-1 · F3H-2 · F11F-1 · F-100D
A-4  A-4B · A-4E Early
A-7  A-7D · A-7E
AV-8  AV-8A · AV-8C
A-10  A-10A · A-10A Late
B-57  B-57A · B-57B
F-105  F-105D