Originally Designed as a replacement for the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, the A-7 Corsair II was roughly based on the Chance Vought F-8 Crusader interceptor aircraft then in squadron use with the Navy. Despite the fact that it was based on a fighter, the A-7 was a pure ground attack / close air support aircraft, with the only air-to-air weapons for self-defense mode. With the airframe's first flight in September 1965, and the initial squadron use in late 1966, the A-7 was had one of the quickest development periods of any post-World War II aircraft. Soon after initial squadron use, the A-7 was flying over the skies of Vietnam. Early version suffered an underpowered engine, so subsequent versions featured up-rated engines. Then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara touted combined airframes that could be used by more than one branch of the military, thus cutting operating and maintenance costs. With her stable mate the F-4 Phantom, the A-7 was one of the most successful cross-branch lives, serving with the USAF, USN, and USMC and Air National Guard. Typical of intra-branch needs, many of the later versions of the A-7 came as branches built upon a previous version (e.g., the USAF's A-7D was the Navy's A-7C version, with a more powerful engine, and the following A-7E saw the USN borrowing that more powerful engine of the A-7D and adding some additional USN-specific features. Notable facts on the Corsair II include that it was one of the first aircraft to use a HUD, or Heads Up Display, to display critical information to the pilot without him having to look down into the cockpit, and it was also one of the first to use a projected map display, tracking the aircraft across a map displayed in the cockpit.
Span: 38' 9"
Length: 46' 2"
Weight: 29,040 lbs loaded
Armament: 1 M61 Vulcan 20mm Gatling gun with 1,300 rounds, 2 AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, plus up to 15,000 lbs ordnance on wings, including up to 30 500 lb Mk 82 bombs, Paveway laser guided bombs, AGM-65 Maverick or AGM-88 HARM missiles.
Engine: Allison / Rolls Royce TF41-A-400 15,000 lbs (no afterburner
Maximum speed: 698 mph
Cruising speed: 535 mph
Range: 715 miles (strike setup), or 2,861 (ferry setup)
Service Ceiling: 42,000 ft