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Curtiss A-25A Shrike

DAYTON, Ohio (08/2008) -- The Curtiss A-25A in the restoration hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio (08/2008) -- The Curtiss A-25A in the restoration hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Helen A. Snapp pilots an A-25A on a tow mission near Camp Stewart, Ga., in June 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Helen A. Snapp pilots an A-25A on a tow mission near Camp Stewart, Ga., in June 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Three WASPs on right wing of A-25 checking the flight plan before a tow mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Three WASPs on right wing of A-25 checking the flight plan before a tow mission. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Womens Airforce Service Pilots check the tow schedule. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Womens Airforce Service Pilots check the tow schedule. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Note: This aircraft is currently in storage. 

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

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