Century Wings CW686250 USAF Vought A-7D Corsair II Attack Aircraft - 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, 1972 (1:72 Scale)
"Tell the Vietnamese they've got to draw in their horns or we're going to bomb them back into the Stone Age. And we would shove them back into the Stone Age with Air power or Naval power—not with ground forces."
- General Curtis LeMay, May 1964
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 February 11th, 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 a USAF A-7D Corsair II attack aircraft that was attached to the 353rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, then deployed to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, during 1972. Only 1,500 pieces produced.
Release Date: August 2009
Historical Account: "With the Spring, Rain" - During the war in Southeast Asia, U.S. Navy A-7 Corsairs were painted gloss gray/white in color while USAF A-7s were normally painted in full jungle camouflage paint schemes. The U.S. Navy did experiment with camouflage paint schemes for some of their aircraft during the war, but during landing operations, the flight deck crews found their duties complicated, due to the inherent changing of the weather conditions aboard a moving ship and the color coded uniforms of the flight deck crew; with the added dangers involved to an already cluttered flight deck, it was determined to keep naval aircraft readily visible for the sake of safety.
A-7Ds from Korat flew combat operations over Vietnam until mid-January 1973, in Laos until February 22nd, 1973, and in Cambodia until August 15th, 1973. The last shot fired in anger by United States military forces in Southeast Asia was fired by an A-7D of the deployed 353 Tactical Fighter Squadron, 345th Tactical Fighter Wing assigned to Korat RTAFB on August 15th, 1973.