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A-10 Thunderbolt II

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A-10A Thunderbolt II

A-10 lineart

Manufacturer(s) Fairchild
Generation 1st Generation
Role Anti-BETA Heavy Attacker
Initial Deployment 1978
Engines General Electronics FE79-GE-9A
Armament(s) WS-16 Assault Gun
GAU-8 Avenger

Javelin CIDS Mk. 1

Appearance(s) TSFIA

The second model of TSAs to be built, the Fairchild Republic TSA-10 Thunderbolt II has lived up well to its name of "Tank Killer" throughout its service life, being responsible for large numbers of BETA casualties whenever deployed.


With the success of the A-6 Intruder used by the US Marine Corps, the US Army sought to have their own TSA to support operations overland in the same "firepower overload" method employed by Intruder squadrons. To that end, the US Army initiated the AX TSA development program and tasked Fairchild Republic with manufacturing a Tactical Surface Attacker capable of high firepower output.

The first attempts to answer the US Army's needs were disastrous; early attempts to convert the A-6 to a land-use TSA were unsuccessful as the Intruder could not carry the Jump Units that the Army required of the final product of the AX program. The Intruder's low land speed and mobility could not be solved without equipping it with Jump Units, and the A-6's lack of terrain adaptability forced all parties involved to drop the idea of refurbishing the Intruder to their needs.

The next option involved using F-4 Phantom frames to create a base for the AX. With greater results this time around, the same problems of low speed and mobility of an F-4-based TSA were balanced out by spectacular armor volume, Jump Unit capabilities, and the ability to carry more weapons; namely the anti-Tank Javalin Close-In Defense System Mk. 1 system and twin GAU-8 Avenger 36mm chaingun mounts. Engine troubles plagued the AX's performance; the sheer weight of the unit reduced engine upkeep time and threatened to throw the A-10 off-balance during flight, but the problem was solved by the time the A-10 was ready for worldwide deployment and the sharing of internal components with the A-6 allowed the A-10 to be mass-produced in a relatively short period of time.

A difference from existing TSFs is the A-10's lack of rear hardpoints for Mount Pylons, with the integral Avenger cannons providing rear-arc firing ability rather than an independent modular unit. Auxiliary armor plates can be equipped, giving extra protection to its head unit and parts of its torso.


Muv-Luv Alternative - A-10 Thunderbolt II

An A-10 demonstrating its 360-degree firepower capability.

The A-10A was deployed by US Army forces on the European front when it first entered service. Despite complaints of its low mobility and speed, it earned its reputation at being an effective weapon against massed BETA, particularly hordes of Tank-class BETA. Depending on weapons loadout, the A-10 could function as a sweeping unit, allowing it to free up other TSFs for roles more dependent on agility, such as breaking Destroyer lines or neutralizing Fort-class BETA, or providing heavy fire support while remaining airmobile and extremely resistant to assaults by smaller strains of BETA.

As the nickname of "Tank Killer" implies, the A-10 of very few surface combatants to enjoy a substantial success rate against hordes of Tank-class. The Javelin CIDS integrated into its already extensive armor plating has proved vital in dislodging and killing the smaller BETA after they have latched on, before they can inflict catastrophic damage on the A-10's frame.

Regardless of role, the A-10 proved to be a valuable weapon on the European front; A-10s from the US Army 54th Attack Squadron Pit Masters and other units were deployed in the vicinity of Hamburg, West Germany in late 1983 to stall the BETA advance during the evacuation of the civilian population. Despite suffering upwards of 50% losses, the A-10s were able to prevent the BETA from setting foot into the city. The Thunderbolt II's effectiveness and the bravery of its US Army pilots were well-remembered, with the A-10 given the nickname of Kanonenvogel by German civilians in reference to the Ju-87, the dive-bomber attack aircraft of Second World War fame.

Although the US military ended procurement of the A-10 in 2000, modernized A-10C units continue to be produced for the US Army, European Union, and Middle Eastern Coalition.

A-10C Thunderbolt IIEdit

A-10C Thunderbolt II

Manufacturer(s) Fairchild
Generation 2nd Generation
Role Anti-BETA Heavy Attacker
Engines General Electronics FE79-GE-9A
Armament(s) WS-16 Assault Gun
GAU-8 Avenger

Mk.57 Squad Support Gun
Javelin CIDS Mk. 1

Appearance(s) TSFIA

A 2nd generation refurbishment of all existing A-10s, using Operation By Light to improve avionics and installing newer, lightweight armor plating for better machine handling characteristics and responsiveness.

The A-10C still retains the anti-Tank Javalin Close-In Defense System Mk. 1 and twin GAU-8 Avenger 36mm rotary-cannon mounts, but also has access to a variety of hand-held assault cannons including the old WS-16 used by the original Thunderbolt II, the new AMWS-21 which replaced the WS-16 in the United States Armed Forces, the GWS-9 which replaced the WS-16 in the EU, and the versatile Mk.57 Squad Support Gun.

Overall, the A-10C is a much faster, more accurate, better equipped, and more versatile TSF than its previous incarnation. Several A-10Cs were loaned to the Bundeswehr for West Germany's use, including the 109th Independent TSA Squadron Kanonendoktor (Cannon Doctors) during culling operations in Saxony, Germany. The enhanced TSA has also seen deployment with the Middle Eastern Coalition.

Image GalleryEdit

  • A-10C Thunderbolt II, rear view.
  • fan rendition of A-10C, colored based on TSFiA article image.

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