....horizontal and vertical surfaces is
avoided by this arrangement. Conventional elevators and rudders
are provided for pitch and yaw control, respectively.
Main-landing-gear units retract into fairings below the wing, and
the single nose-wheel gear is offset to facilitate optimum
location of the offensive cannon. The single pilot's cockpit is
near the nose of the fuselage and is equipped with a zero-zero
ejection seat. (A successful escape can be made at zero altitude
and speed.) Protection of the cockpit area is provided by an
armored "bathtub" constructed of titanium said to be able to
withstand the impact of projectiles of up to 23 mm in size.
Primary armament of the A-10 is a large
30-mm seven-barrel rotary cannon. This impressive weapon can fire
at a rate of either 2100 or 4200 rounds per minute. Equipped with
1950 rounds of ammunition, the gun weighs 4041 pounds; its empty
weight is 1975 pounds. The gun is positioned in the nose so that
the firing barrel is always located on the centerline of the
aircraft. Muzzle of the cannon may be seen protruding from the
nose in figures 12.28 and 12.29. In addition to the formidable
30-mm cannon, four store-mounting stations are  provided under
each wing and three are located beneath the fuselage. A wide
assortment of different stores can be carried on the aircraft.
With full internal fuel tanks, the maximum external load is a
remarkable 14 341 pounds.
The data in table VI show a maximum gross weight of 40 269 pounds for
the Thunderbolt II. With a payload of 9540 pounds, mission radius
is 288 miles, including a 2-hour loiter period on station. Ferry
range with no payload and maximum external fuel is 3510 miles. At
a cruising speed of 329 miles per hour, time required for the
single pilot to fly this distance is a little over 10 hours.
Certainly a fatiguing flight, but not a remarkably long one for a
single pilot. Maximum speeds for the A-10A given in table VI are comparable to those achievable by the fastest
propeller-driven fighters of World War II.
Certainly the Thunderbolt II (sometimes
irreverently referred to by crew members as the Warthog) will
never reap any honors for ascetic appeal. Yet, given its unique
mission requirements, a more practical design is difficult to
envision. Its ultimate usefulness in a combat situation, however,
has yet to be proven.