This book has personal significance to me. As a member of the 23Tactical Fighter Wing in the early 1980s, I got to see A-10s doing their thing including firing that incredible gun at the local gunnery range.
The A-10s path to service and continued operations has not been an easy one. After the experiences of WWII where the Ju87 Stuka, IL-2 Shturmovik and P-47 Thunderbolt proved the utility of true close air support (CAS) aircraft, it would seem the need for this type of aircraft was self-evident. However, in the post war world of fast high-flying jets, the Air Force saw no need for a low and slow CAS aircraft nor did they have an intertest in conducting the CAS mission. This ideology persisted even though the CAS experience in Vietnam demonstrated the need for such an aircraft. As the author explains, it was the US Army's testing of fixed wing aircraft that eventually forced the USAF to except the CAS mission. Even with the acceptance of that mission, the USAF was still resistant to the idea of a low and slow CAS aircraft. The book then details the development and flyoff between the A-10 and the Northrop A9-A. Obviously the A-10 prevailed and the book progresses through a few chapters on systems and weapons. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the battle for existence was reignited since the A-10 was supposed to be the destroyer of Russian armor rolling into Europe. Then came the numerous Middle Eastern conflicts most notably the 1991 Gulf War to remove the Iraqi Army from Kuwait. The A-10 became one of the most feared aircraft in that war and its tank killing abilities were proven beyond doubt. In spite of that success and the near constant rotation of A-10s units for overseas duty, there is still a push to put F-16 units into this role. Fast forward to the present and there's still no CAS platform as effective as the A-10. With the adoption of the A-10 as a forward air controller aircraft and the rebuilding of the fleet's wings, the A-10 will be around for a while longer.
This book is a historical text more than a modelers reference guide. There are numerous photographs and diagrams as well as live actions photos of ground crews at. work and aircraft in flight. One of the last chapters discusses a proposed fire-bombing version of the A-10. That might be of interest to the “what if”, builders out there. While its clear the author is a fan of the A-10, this a balanced narration of the A-10s history. My only criticisms are a few of the illustrations appear to copies of a poor original and a photo of an F-15 that’s identified as an A-10 on page 297. At this price point, if you're looking for A-10 detail references, there's probably better picks out there. However, if you are a Warthog fan like me who has an interest in the detailed history of the type, this title is worth the price of admission. Thank you to IPMS for sharing this sample with me and to Pen and Sword Publishers for providing it.