The Curtiss A-25 Shrike represented the end of an obsolete concept -- the single-engine, two-seat dive bomber. A modified version of the U.S. Navy's new SB2C Helldiver, the U.S. Army Air Corps ordered 100 A-25s in 1940. Although initial testing revealed some problems, the A-25 went into production, and the U.S. Army Air Forces ordered 3,000 in February 1942. In March 1943, a USAAF board determined that single-engine, two-seat attack aircraft like the A-25 were too vulnerable to enemy fighters. They recommended canceling the production of this type and relying instead on more effective single seat fighter-bombers.
Although A-25 production halted, 900 had already been built. The USAAF transferred 410 A-25s to the U.S. Marine Corps. Those that remained were redesignated the RA-25A (for "restricted" to non-combat use). Some flew as trainers or light personnel and cargo transports. Interestingly, Womens Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) used A-25s (and A-24s) to fly gunnery training missions. These flights involved towing a target sleeve on a long wire past ground anti-aircraft gunners, who then shot at the sleeve with live ammunition.
The museum's aircraft will be marked to represent a WASP tow target aircraft at Camp Stewart, Ga., in June 1944.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Maximum speed: 311 mph Armament: 3,000-lb. maximum bomb load; four .50-cal. wing machine guns and one .50-cal. flexible machine gun Range: 700 miles with maximum bomb load