jump to navigation

Flightline Friday: The Awesome A-7 April 13, 2018

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, technology.
trackback

For nearly 40 years, my current house would have been very nearly directly under the flight path for Naval Air Station Dallas and the co-located Vought/LTV plant.  Thus, from 1955 to the early 90s, Vought F-8s and later A-7s would have been in the air most every day, flying over my home (OK, the home didn’t exist for most of that time, but you get the point).  Of course, by the time we moved into that house Navy Dallas was closed and Vought was out of the prime contractor business, no longer building whole airplanes, but that’s how it goes.

At any rate the A-7 was the result of a quickie project to build a replacement for the excellent Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, intending to greatly increase the range/payload capability of US Navy light attack assets.  The project was a hallmark of the US aerospace industry at that time, roughly showcasing an industry at its historic peak, resulting in a program that went from conception to flying hardware in just about 4 years.  Heck, they can’t even get half the specs for a bomb written in 4 years today, let alone those for a whole airplane.  Vought responded to the Navy’s request for a new Light Attack aircraft – the VAL competition – with a modified version of its epochal F-8 Crusader fighter, basically a shortened F-8 with a wing modified to carry heavy payloads.  Vought won that competition, and between December 1964 and early 1967 crafted the A-7A.  This aircraft represented a quantum leap not in speed, because it wasn’t very fast, but in accuracy.  The A-7 was the most accurate tactical bombing platform in US service until the introduction of the F-16 in 1978.  Especially in its Air Force A-7D variant and subsequent US Navy E model copy of the D, the A-7 set radically improved standards in terms of bombing accuracy and range/payload capability, being able to carry the same payload as the A-4 twice as far, or twice the payload the same distance.

Prior to the A-7s arrival in Southeast Asia, virtually every Air Force tactical mission “up north,” whether launched from Thailand or South Vietnam, required air-to-air refueling.  Even the long-legged F-105 required refueling after taking off with a heavy bomb load.  As the first video below indicates, however, the A-7 was able to fly almost all missions over North Vietnam, with a heavy payload of about 9000 pounds of ordinance, pylons, and ammo, without air-to-air refueling.  Now refueling was still pretty frequently done, but more to give the A-7 ridiculous loiter time up North – often over 2 hours – than because of basic necessity.  Navy A-7s, operating much closer to their targets, virtually never required refueling.

The A-7 got its impressive accuracy through a combination of some of the first digital computers, embedded and computerized navigation systems (INS, Doppler, and a very accurate attack radar), and newly developed software algorithms that determined, electronically, a continuously computed impact point (CCIP) means of bombing that was a radical advance for its time.  Later perfected to a much greater degree in the F-16 and F-18, the A-7’s CCIP system improved basic bomb-dropping accuracy by more than a factor of ten, from hundreds of yards down to about 20-30 yards, average mean miss distance.  The second video, an absolute gift of an upload of a film from the old British firm of Elliot, which built some of the very first Heads Up Displays ever made, subsequently installed in the A-7D and E.  Man how some like minded enthusiasts and I would have practically wept for joy to have seen truly excellent footage like this, showing exactly how complex, innovative systems were used tactically, 20 or 30 years ago.  Great stuff.

I’m out for the weekend.  Sorry for lack of posts, it was one of those weeks.  Long live the memory of the great Vought Aircraft and its many excellent products!  Built just about 5 miles from my home, they were in every respect Great Planes:

Now that the “multirole” is cheaper experiment has been tried and quite possibly proven a bad concept – especially when the roles are far too numerous and diverse – perhaps it’s time to return to some lower cost single mission types, for the vital roles like CAS and BAI?  That is to say, Air Force and Navy jocks, just because it doesn’t have an “F” in front of its name doesn’t mean it’s second rate!  Bomber pilots may make history, fighter pilots may make movies, but attack pilots make the boots on the ground very, very happy.

Advertisements

Comments

1. Magdalene P - April 14, 2018

Totally different topic but do not know how to contact you directly…news from Denver that you might find interesting: Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea has been granted immediate faculties here! That is all I know at the moment. Do not know where he will be living or what position he will have. Wonder if he will be with the Dolorans?

2. Brian E. Breslin - April 17, 2018

Now THAT is what I am talking about, Tantum! The A-7 was such a sweet machine and you are right about how the grunts felt about her. Oh so right.

3. Brian E. Breslin - April 22, 2018

Tantum, I had to send this along to you because it sounds like this fellow writing to Archbishop Chaput is a kindred spirit to you:
https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/04/from-the-heart-of-a-young-father

4. Tim - April 23, 2018

Speaking of “flight lining”, this loon needs to be flight lined to a psychiatrist!

https://romancatholicimperialist.blogspot.com/2018/04/i-pray-for-destruction-of-airline_22.html

There sure are nutty Catholics out there!

Tantumblogo - April 23, 2018

Now I know how I look to “normies” :p


Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: