Century Wings CW778962 US Navy Vought A-7E Corsair II Attack Aircraft - AJ401, VA-86 "Sidewinders", USS Nimitz (CVN-68), 1978 (1:72 Scale)
"Obsolete weapons do not deter."
- British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II is a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft design that was introduced to replace the A-4 Skyhawk in US Naval service and based on the successful supersonic F-8 Crusader aircraft produced by Chance Vought. The A-7 was one of the first combat aircraft to feature a head-up display (HUD), doppler-bounded inertial navigation system (INS), and a turbofan engine. It initially entered service with the United States Navy during the Vietnam conflict and was then adopted by the United States Air Force to replace their A-1 Skyraiders that were borrowed from the Navy as well as with the Air National Guard. It was exported to Greece (in the 1970s), Portugal and Thailand (in the late 1980s).
In 1962, the United States Navy began preliminary work on VAX (Heavier-than-air, Attack, Experimental), a replacement for the A-4 Skyhawk with greater range and payload. A particular emphasis was placed on accurate delivery of weapons to reduce the cost per target. The requirements were finalized in 1963 and in 1964, the Navy announced the VAL (Heavier-than-air, Attack, Light) competition. Contrary to USAF philosophy, which was to employ only supersonic fighter bombers such as the F-105 Thunderchief and F-100 Super Sabre, the Navy felt that a subsonic design could carry the most payload the farthest distance. One story illustrated that a "slow fat duck" could fly nearly as fast as a supersonic one, since carrying dozens of iron bombs also restricted its entry speed, but a fast plane with small wings and an afterburner would burn up a lot more fuel. To minimize costs, all proposals had to be based on existing designs. Vought, Douglas Aircraft, Grumman, and North American Aviation responded. The Vought proposal was based on the successful F-8 Crusader fighter, having an identical configuration, but more short and stubby, with a rounded nose. It was selected as the winner on 11 February 1964, and on 19 March the company received a contract for the initial batch of aircraft, designated A-7. In 1965 the aircraft received the popular name Corsair II, after Vought's highly successful F4U Corsair of World War II.
Compared to the F-8 Crusader fighter, the A-7 had a shorter, broader fuselage. The wing was made larger, and the unique variable incidence wing of the F-8 was deleted. To achieve the required range, A-7 was powered by a Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-6 turbofan producing 11,345 lbf (50.5 kN) of thrust, the same innovative combat turbofan produced for the F-111, but without the afterburner needed for supersonic speeds. Turbofans achieve greater efficiency by moving a larger mass of air at a lower velocity.
The aircraft was fitted with an AN/APQ-116 radar which was integrated into the ILAAS digital navigation system. The radar also fed a digital weapons computer which made possible accurate delivery of bombs from a greater stand-off distance, greatly improving survivability compared with faster platforms such as the F-4 Phantom II. It was the first US aircraft to have a modern Heads-Up Display, now a standard instrument, which displayed information such as dive angle, airspeed, altitude, drift, and aiming reticle. The integrated navigation system allowed for another innovation - the projected map display system (PMDS) which accurately showed aircraft position on two different map scales.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of an USN A-7E Corsair II attack aircraft that was attached to VA-86 Sidewinders, then embarked upon the USS Nimitz during 1978. Only 1,000 pieces produced.
Wingspan: 6.5 inches
Length: 7.75 inches
Release Date: August 2010
Historical Account: "Whiz Kid" - Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara prodded the Air Force to adopt not only the hugely successful F-4 Phantom II, but also the Navy's A-7 Corsair as a low cost follow-on to F-105s until the troubled F-111 came online. The Air Force ordered the A-7D with a fixed high speed refueling receptacle behind the pilot optimized for the KC-135's flying boom rather than the folding long probe of Navy aircraft. They opted for the M61 Vulcan cannon rather than the twin single-barrel 20 mm cannon, and changed to the Allison TF41-A-1 engine, which was a licenced version of the British Rolls-Royce Spey.
The TF41-A-1 engine produced 14,500 lbf (64 kN) of thrust. Later Navy versions would adopt this gun and engine.
The A-7 enjoyed the fastest and most trouble-free development period of any American combat aircraft since World War Two.
The YA-7A made its first flight on September 27th, 1965, and began to enter Navy squadron service late in 1966. The first Navy A-7 squadrons reached operation status on February 1st, 1967, and began combat operations over Vietnam in December of that year.