A-10 Warthog


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Most airplane modelers have a stash of unbuilt kits. Which one gets pulled out of the closet and worked on next?  After reading William Smallwood's book Warthog, Flying the A-10 in the Gulf War the decision was made for me.

From the book I learned the "pointy-nosed" Air Force pilots look down on the slow, round-nosed  A-10.  A few examples:  'the A-10s airspeed indicator is a Best Replica Watches calendar', and 'the A-10 is the only plane in the inventory that takes bird strikes....from the rear!'.  Although the book has numerous instances of humor (the A-10 flight simulator consists of sitting in a dumpster and having rocks thrown at you) the real story is about the man and plane molded together as one to carry out the toughest air-to-ground combat on the modern battlefield. 

The journey to Saudi Arabia started with a long, overnight trans-Atlantic crossing without radar or attitude indicator, in a storm, no visibility, and needing to refuel several times in pitch darkness.  And, oh yea, stay awake the whole time.  Once in the theater they would get missions no other plane could fly.  AP shells make tiny holes in armor.  From high up where the fast pointy-noses fly you can't tell if a tank is holed or not.  High altitude reconnaissance is useless.  So the A-10s got the mission to fly low and slow over the Iraqi defensive positions (!) to put Mk 1 eyeballs on the tanks and see if they were really wounded.  Another example of YGBSM.

And I imagine if a pointy-nosed plane happened to go down the pilot would be pretty happy to see a Warthog or two show up.  They give excellent cover while the rescue choppers work their way in.  The book recounts a few such missions.  Enough...you'll just have to read it yourself.

Monogram makes a very nice 1/48th kit of the A-10.  There were a few things I didn't like about it, though.   The kit is from their 'raised panel line' era.  I decided to rescribe it based on my dissatisfaction with the look of their F-5E I had built not too long before.  The other thing was their rendition of the 30mm GE GAU-8 Gatling gun (the one with a flat trajectory for 2 miles!).  The dimpled cooling jacket just didn't do it for me.  Fortunately I found one of the standard telescoping aluminum tubes, the kind that you get in the hobby store, has the right diameter.  A piece of fine-lined graph paper was glued around the circumference with rubber cement.  One set of lines was aligned to the long axis of the tube which permitted a precise pattern of pin-pricks to be put into the aluminum down the length and around the circumference.  You have to get these spaced just so because when drilled out the smallest misalignment really stands out.  The first two jackets looked awful but the third time was a charm.  The resultant cooling jacket is 1000% better than the plastic original. Adding Rods inside to simulate the barrels and drilling out the barrels on the kit part added a lot, too.

A set of aftermarket one piece flaps was used in place of the split flaps you get in the kit.   Eduard released a brass set which also found its way into this project. 

Super Scale had released a few sheets of Desert Storm markings for the A-10.  I gravitated to one on sheet 48-432 for a couple of reasons.  The shark mouth motif has appealed to modelers for over 60 years.  But perhaps the biggest reason had to do with a May 1991 visit to our facility by members of the 23rd FG who had fought in the Gulf War.  They had just returned stateside and wanted to show our work force their appreciation for the excellent performance of the IR Maverick AGM-65D.  Two A-10s from the unit flew in to Franck Muller Swiss Replica the small local airport.  Employees and family members were cheerily welcomed aboard their craft.  There was a special bond formed and it was a day not soon forgotten.

The paint scheme is standard European 1.  I worked from the 2 page Tech Order which gives FS callouts and the pattern for each color.  You can view the document by clicking here... A10 Tech Order.  The gunship grey went on first.  The Paasche VL-3 airbrush made short work of the complex wrap around paint scheme.

You may wonder about the armament applied to the model...did A-10s really carry 3 Mavericks on TERs?  From Smallwood's book the answer is very likely no.  The standard load was 500 pounders and/or cluster bombs + 2 Mavericks - one under each wing.  (Jan 23, 2004: I've heard from several Tech Sgts who tell me the inner most missile of the 3 would be deleted for 2 reasons: damage could occur to the tail and it would scorch the exposed tire as it went by.  Maybe some day I'll remove those 2 rounds.)  However there are times when 'modeler's preference' comes into play and in this case it was to show many AGM 65Ds.

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This site was last updated 11/26/07