The A-10 is the first U.S. Air Force aircraft designed specifically for close air support of ground forces. It is named for the famous P-47 Thunderbolt, a fighter often used in a close air support role during the latter part of World War II. The A-10 is very maneuverable at low speeds and low altitudes to ensure accurate weapons delivery, and it carries the systems and armor needed to survive in this environment. It is intended for use against all ground targets, but specifically tanks and other armored vehicles. The Thunderbolt II's great endurance gives it a large combat radius and long loiter time in a battle area. Its short takeoff and landing capability permits operation from airstrips close to the front lines. Maintenance at forward bases with limited facilities is possible because of the A-10's simple design.
The A-10A on display was flown on Jan. 21, 1991, by Capt. Paul Johnson on an eight-hour rescue support mission during Operation Desert Storm, for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross, the USAF's second highest award for valor. The aircraft was delivered to the museum in January 1992.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: One GAU-8/A 30mm Gatling gun and 16,000 lbs. of mixed ordnance Engines: Two General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofans of 9,000 lbs. thrust each Maximum speed: 450 nautical mph Range: 800 miles Span: 57 ft. 6 in. Length: 53 ft. 4 in. Height: 14 ft. 8 in. Weight: 47,000 lbs.