Reloading the A-10 Warthog

A-10_Thunderbolt_II_Gun_Run

Good to know the most manly of weapons needs an almost equal time to reload compared to its shooting as the men that operate it. It takes a crew of airmen over 30 minutes to reload the Gatling cannon on the Warthog.

While the physical loading and unloading is done by machine, it takes a lot of work to move the ammunition around and make sure it loads and unloads correctly.

All I am going to say is that is a lot of work for only 30 seconds of fun.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • Julio

    Sure looks like it saves on gym fees!

    • Southpaw89

      30mm treadmill, bet that airman passes his fit test!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Isnt that always the way?
    Half an hour of loading mags for two minutes of fun.

    • Riot

      What? No, with my Tactical Combat SpeedloadARâ„¢ I fill clips at 1100 rounds per minute.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        I hire a blind kid from the neighborhood to load my mags. Relies entirely on sense of touch. Incredible. And I don’t have to worry about him stealing anything.
        The sound of full auto is truly a drug.

        • HH

          I pay a neighbor’s teen (not blind, no infirmity, etc) $100 to link 5k of 54R for my 1919. Of course Im not running a sweat shop here…I allow him use of my linker.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            He’s never going to learn anything by using a linker.

  • wetcorps

    Worth it.

    • Tom

      30 years later and we still have nothing in the air that can beat the A-10 for close support and generally ruining an enemies day.

      • Martin M

        Apostate! How dare the go against the mandate of the Fighter Generals. The lowly, ugly, Warthog shall be sacrificed in favor of overpriced, sexy new toys. The Fighter Generals demand it!

        • J-

          One of the most famous engineers in combat aviation history was asked about his opinion on the F22 and JSF. His response was (paraphrased) “The purpose of those aircraft are to provide money to contractors that donated to politicians.”

          It’s not the generals. It’s that there isn’t billions of dollars for cronies to make keeping the A10 flying.

          • Martin M

            Where do you think the Generals go when they’re done being Generals?

          • Rock or Something

            I wish I could say “retirement”, but we all know better…

        • n0truscotsman

          In defense of the JSF, many of its purported capabilities will add new chess pieces to the CAS game, namely, in the form of the SDB II. Whether it delivers or not, at a price of 85mil a piece, remains to be seen. For the sake of our military power capabilities, I sure hope so.

          Ill remain cautiously skeptical until it happens 🙂

          • Grindstone50k

            Not when the billions it eats up could’ve gone to way more useful programs and equipment.

      • Bob

        Should transfer them to the army or the jarheads, unlike the zoomies they appreciate CAS.

        • Uniform223

          Of course boots on the ground appreciate CAS, doesn’t matter what platform its coming off of as long as its making our day easier.

          “unlike the zoomies they appreciate CAS”

          That is incredibly false because ever since its inception and during every major conflict the USAF has always found ways to support boots on the the ground. Majority if not all combat operations for the pass 14 years have been related too or directly been CAS missions.

          To quote a USAF pilot about the “concerns” about CAS…
          “If the guys on the ground are concerned with that, they shouldn’t be. They should only be concerned that the pilot of what ever aircraft it is properly trained and is doing there job; dropping right bomb on the right target at the right time”.

        • Bullphrog855

          Marines don’t want or need this.

  • MountainKelly

    Brrrrrrt?

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    Most used piece? Really?

  • Seburo

    There is really nothing that can replace the GAU-8 or the A-10. Unless somebody creates an airborne version of Metal Storm with a 25-30mm caseless auto cannon.
    Sniper pod is already more advanced then EOTS. F-35 fanboys think that fast moves and bombs can provide comparable CAS. When both Korea and Vietnam have proven this nearsighted view wrong.
    Wonder if the Warthog is still effective against Russia’s new Merkava/M1 Prototype knocks offs.

    • Georgiaboy61

      Re: “F-35 fanboys think that fast moves and bombs can provide comparable CAS. When both Korea and Vietnam have proven this nearsighted view wrong.”

      The Douglas A-1 Skyraider, a single-seat prop-driven aircraft (an anachronism in the age of jet propulsion), won the gratitude of the grunts during the Vietnam War for its ability to loiter “low and slow” over the target area for hours at a time, providing badly-needed CAS to those on the ground. “The Spad” as it was nicknamed, was able to carry an awesome load of ordnance and deliver it where/when it was needed.

      The A-10 occupies something of the same niche today. It does not possess the sleek lines or other attributes of an interceptor or air-superiority fighter – it just gets the job done. On a bank-per-buck basis, one of the best aircraft ever in our inventory – and no other fixed-wing aircraft touches it in terms of battlefield CAS performance.

      • mosinman

        i think the skyraider could fill the COIN aircraft job pretty well

        • Seburo

          A-67 Dragon and the Beechcraft T-6 Texan could be a good successors to the old Skyraider. More compatible with current pods and weapons too. Also read stuff about the Cessna 208 Caravan though it lacks range compared to the others. Hearing good things about the Textron Airland Scorpion too.
          Though no one had made a proper replacement for the A-10 yet.

          • rrdonovan

            What! Have we forgotten the venerable AC-130 gun ship? Shoot the cannon from the rear, blast away with the miniguns, or just drop prepackaged bombs. I was in MAC (military airlift command). As an avionics tech, I got to see first hand the awsome munitions this plane carries….

      • n0truscotsman

        We loved the hogs in A-stan. They have the ability to put the nasty down on bad guys in the mountainside even compared to other bad boys like the M120 and Apaches.

        I DO enjoy the proposed capabilities of the APKWS (laser guided hydra) and SDB II though.

      • nadnerbus

        One thing that I realized, reading about the fighting in A-Stan, is how much just having a beast like that that can fly low over the battle space in a Show Of Force makes a difference in the fight.

        Granted, the same effect could sometimes be had with F-16 and 15s, but both friend and foe alike highly respect the capabilities of the A-10.

        In a fight where there are so many self inflicted restrictions on the deployment of munitions, having the capability to literally scare off the enemy without firing a shot can absolutely save lives.

      • Seburo

        I read about the Army requesting runs from Marines and Navy turboprop aircraft because the fast movers couldn’t “keep up”. The Century series aircraft were a mistake according to many historians.

        If our Generals pull their heads out of their butts and stopped worrying about their retirement accounts. There would be a real successor to the Warthog.

        Stick a Sniper Pod plus Next Generation Jammer (both in the same pod are actually feasible) on an A-10 and you have a CAS aircraft more stealthy then the F-35. With upgrades it’ll be good until a real replacement arrives.

        • Georgiaboy61

          You are way above my pay grade; I defer to your expertise. However, we ought to follow the old axiom more often – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”…
          Just because a weapons system is old does not mean it is ineffective or obsolete. The Browning 50-caliber HB MG is a case in point. It will soon celebrate its centennial, but it is still getting the job done on battlefields around the world.
          The converse also holds true; just because something is the newest thing on the block doesn’t make it the best. Too many examples to list here; I’ll bet you know more than I do.
          It seems to me that we have more-pressing defense expenditure needs than replacing an airframe which already works as intended and is popular with the troops. Since the airframe is well-tested, the bugs have been worked out and the maintenance people know how to keep them in the air and operational. Why not dust off the tooling and restart production of the A-10 – and throw in some 21st century mods while you’re at it? The B-52 proves that strategy works.
          Of course, pragmatism and practicality are sometimes alien concepts at the five-sided puzzle palace we call the Pentagon….

          • Phil Hsueh

            The problem is that you can’t simply just dust off the machining and tooling as most, if not all of it, almost certainly doesn’t exist anymore. For one thing, Fairchild-Republic no longer exists, they went out of business years ago and all of their physical assets are all who knows where now; I very strongly doubt they’re just boxed up sitting in warehouse somewhere just waiting for someone to come and dust them off. Secondly, I’d imagine that what might be left of what was used to originally build the A-10 is probably not compatible with anything that we use to make planes today.

            The best thing would be to build a true successor for the A-10 from the ground up. Use the same philosophies behind the A-10 and the best features of it but build it from scratch with modern equipment, techniques, and materials. That would be ideal because the A-10s that we have left are getting pretty long in the tooth and I imagine that the A-10 flight profile is pretty rough on the airframe and there’s only so much you can do extend their life before you’re basically replacing everything and building a brand new plane.

  • bombloader

    Experienced crews can beat 30 mins easily unless you getc a jam. Greatest weakness in the system is the plastic tubes, they tend to deform or crack in extreme heat or cold and jam in the ALA. I’ve had a few loads then took twice that long as we took off covers to get to busted tubes jamming up the system.

  • Southpaw89

    Alright gentlemen, we have a 30mm Gatling cannon, what are we going to do with it? And thus the A-10 was born.

  • Charles Applegate

    “Good to know the most manly of weapons needs an almost equal time to reload compared to its shooting as the men that operate it” may be the least articulate sentence I’ve read all year.

  • Robert L. Rice

    Great airplane.

  • ghost

    Everybody should have a warthog or two around. We will not know what the F-35 is really capable of until it’s paid for, (maybe never). The A-10 is a “simple” solution without over thinking the problem. As to fun factor, I would think flying a slow plane fast would be more fun than flying a fast plane slow.