A-7 Corsair II
The A-7 Corsair II was a light bomber and attack aircraft used primarily by the Navy. It was intended as a complement and eventually a replacement for the A-4 Skyhawk, going into service in 1966.
The Navy wanted an aircraft with increased range and payload to replace the A-4. Several companies, including Grumman, Douglas, and North American tried for the contract, but eventually it was Vought who received the contract.
Vought built the aircraft in a remarkably short time, mostly because it was basically the same design as the F-8 Crusader. The first test aircraft (named after the World War II fighter) were delivered in 1964.
The A-7Bs had the more powerful Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-8 engine, which provided 12,200 pounds of thrust. These airplanes were the primary A-7 version in Vietnam.
The A-7Cs were modified to carry the 13,400 pounds of thrust Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-408 engine.
The A-7Ds were the first to carry the M61A-1 Vulcan cannon in the fuselage. They also were equipped with laser-guided bombs.
The A-7Es had an Allison/Rolls-Royce engine which provided 15,000 pounds of thrust. It also was equipped with forward looking infrared (FLIR) equipment which enabled it to fly at night.
The A-7's combat debut came in Vietnam, where it was effective in attacks on North Vietnamese MiG bases and on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. The first A-7 squadron to be deployed to Vietnam was VA-147, based aboard the USS Ranger; they flew over 1400 sorties, losing only one aircraft.
A-7's were effective in search and rescue missions, where they escorted helicopters to the location of the downed aircraft; they replaced the A-1 Skyraider in this role. Air Force A-7D's flew nearly 13,000 missions in Vietnam, and the aircraft was second for the record for the most ordnance dropped on Hanoi, after the B-52 Stratofortress.
A-7's also saw action against Libya in 1986; after Libyan air defense operators fired SA-5 surface-to-air missiles at a pair of F-14 Tomcats, two A-7Es from the USS Saratoga attacked and destroyed the Libyan radar with AGM-88 HARMs. Later, Corsairs from the America participated in Operation El Dorado Canyon, supporting the main strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi by suppressing SAM sites with AGM-45 Shrike and AGM-88 HARM missiles.
The aircraft saw action against Iranian targets in the Persian Gulf during Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988. A-7E's sank the Iranian frigate Sahand after the destroyer Samuel B. Roberts hit an Iranian mine.
First Gulf War
By the second Gulf War, the A-7s had been retired. The last mission of A-7s in active duty was the testing of anti-radar equipment for the F-117. The plane has been replaced in the Navy by the F-18 Hornet and in the Air Force, by the A-10.
Greece operates two A-7 squadrons, which have been much upgraded with superior avionics and arms capability, under the name of A-7H and A-7E. They are used for ground attack missions, although they also use some variants as training aircraft.
Portugal ordered 20 A-7 airframes in 1980, and later purchased six training aircraft and 24 other A-7's. Corsair II's logged over 64,000 flight hours in the Portugese Navy before being retired in 1999.
Thailand purchased fourteen A-7E's and four TA-7C's in 1995. They are currently operative but not operational.
|Type||Light attack aircraft|
|Power plant||(A-7E) One Allison/Rolls-Royce TF41-A-2 with 15,000 pounds of thrust|
|Height||16 feet, 1 inches|
|Speed||690 miles per hour without stores|
|Wingspan||38 feet, 9 inches|
|Weight||19,111 pounds empty|
|Range||Unrefueled 2,861 miles|
|Maximum Weight||42,000 pounds|
|Armament||Assorted stores up to 15,000 pounds, including Mark 55 mines, anti-radiation missiles, unguided bombs, TV guided bombs, and laser-guided bombs. One Vulcan M61A-1 cannon in the fuselage.|
- MiG-21 Units of the Vietnam War, by Istvan Toperczer, Osprey Publishing, 2001
- Disaster in Lebanon
- El Dorado Canyon: Reagan's Undeclared War with Qaddafi, by Joseph T. Stanik, Naval Institute Press, 2003