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Michael Yon Parties With Warthogs

By Wyatt Earp | March 24, 2010

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Warthogs. Kick. Ass.

Lieutenant Colonel Eric Murphy is an A-10 pilot from Baltimore. In his day job, “Captain” Eric Murphy is a commercial pilot who flies A320s but today he’s not flying British tourists traveling within the United States. He’s going to Helmand Province to cover the British “Royal Welsh.”

Today, Lt Col Murphy’s 30mm cannon is loaded with 1,150 rounds. The 30mm can destroy tanks, but believe it or not, typically will not penetrate the walls around Afghan homes. When the 30mm fires, it’s almost unbelievable. The bullets don’t fly in a laser-like stream, but sort of spray in a lethal mist, as if the cannon is shot-painting a swath with huge bullets. If the enemy is in the open, the cannon is like a weapon of mass destruction. When people are hit with M-16 bullets, the wound is often more like a couple small holes, but when bodies get hit with weapons this large, they fly in pieces.

A-10 cannons are tilted down so that the pilot can fly level while strafing. This is important: In Mosul, in 2004, an F-14 was strafing downtown after a massive truck bomb in December and many other bad surprises (I was not there), and the pilot told me he was fixated on the target. Since the F-14 cannon is tilted up for “Top Gun” air combat, the pilot had to nose down the F-14 and was diving straight into the target and nearly crashed. The hard turn to avoid crashing damaged his aircraft and the pilot had difficulty landing on the aircraft carrier later that night. Since the A-10 gun is tilted down, it can fly level and strafe without accidentally crashing into the target.

Warthogs have a special place in my family’s heart. They fly over our home a few times a week, back and forth from their base at Willow Grove NAS. They are easily Kyle and Erik’s favorite aircraft, and it’s good to see they are making a difference in Afghanistan.

Topics: The Troops, War On Terror | 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Michael Yon Parties With Warthogs”

  1. RogerDee Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 8:02 am

    After serving on the “Big John” for three years, I too, have a special place in my heart for kick ass F-14 Tomcats, A-10′s and other insturments of American might. I now live near an AFB that Warthogs fly out of. A thing of beauty to see them on a straifing run. Keep em’ coming!!

  2. Jon Brooks Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 8:41 am

    In my day they were just finally phasing out SkyRaiders
    for close air support. The only prop aircraft by the way that shot down a Mig in Vietnam:) Was glad to see the Warthog when she came out, a beauty of an ugly aircraft.
    I love the sound the vulcan makes…brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  3. Jim Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I live within half a mile of the Willow Grove Naval Air Station and have seen and enjoyed watching and hearing the Warthogs of the 111th Fighter Wing (PA Air National Guard) for many years. Sit in one of the booths at Lancer’s Diner or Lee’s Hoagies on 611 when the 111th is flying and you will see a show. Unfortunately, we’re going to be losing “our” A-10s — as part of the BRAC closure of Willow Grove the planes will be parceled out to other squadrons elsewhere.

    Another little known fact — the A-10, one of the last stick-and-rudder planes still in service (most are fly-by-wire computer jobs now), was also one of the few aircraft in history built around its weapon system, rather than its powerplant. The General Electric GAU-8 Avenger 30mm automatic cannon is a huge piece of hardware, and the Warthog was special-built to handle it. It takes up 16 percent of the A-10′s weight. Well worth it, though — 1,150 rounds of 30mm armor-piercing ammo firing at 3,900 rounds per minute, and going 3,250 feet per second, will put a bunch of bad guys in the hurt locker, real fast. God bless the A-10 and all who fly her and under her protection.

  4. minuteman26 Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    The A-10 is the best ground support aircraft ever produced for the military. The A1-E is a close second.

  5. Dennis Petty, aka MUD Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Depleated uranium. The battlefield is covered with the dust from Depleated uranium. Think about it. It the stuff can rip up steel, the mud huts don’t stand a chance. I was in Nevada near Fallon one time and one of these bad boys flew up over the road right over me and fired. I damn neart had a heart attack – It was so cool that my son will never forget the Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr of that gun.

  6. CaptainAmerica Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 11:32 am

    NOTHING in the world sounds like that cannon. It’s a man thing…

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Roger – I love Tomcats, too. Great fighters.

    Jon – We were watching and my 6-year old said it sounds like a burp.

    Jim – Agreed. They will be missed, especially by my kids.

    Minuteman26 – No argument there.

    MUD – They aren’t pretty, but they sure are effective.

    Captain – It gives me a chill up my leg, a la Chrissy Matthews.

  8. Andrew Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Growing up near Willow Grove Naval Air Station was a treat indeed.

    I agree with Minuteman – I love the A-10, but I also dig the Skyraider too – those Sandys were badass.

    Another honorable mention is the IL-2 Sturmovik – the godfather of tank-busting close-air support aircraft – the Germans didn’t call it “Slaughterer” for nothing.

    It will be sad to see the base close – I already miss the airshows…

  9. Loaded Dice in Vegas Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    The groundpounders best flying friends…………

  10. Ingineer66 Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I read this story last night. I enjoy Michael Yon’s stories and I am also a fan of the A-10. You gotta love anything that ugly and that effective at killing the enemy and that the air force has tried to repeatedly cancel.

  11. Jon Brooks Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I’ll give him that Wyatt, it does sound a bit like…Brrrrrrrrrrrrrraaap! Also:)

  12. Fenway_Nation Says:
    March 24th, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I remember the A-10s from the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing over at Barnes Airport flying over the Fenway Homestead back in the day……they had those right up unti two or three years ago. I think they were considered teetering on obsolescence back then, although the tank-shredding goodness that was the A-10 kinda made that a laughable argument.

  13. Deputy Polarbear Says:
    March 25th, 2010 at 1:25 am

    The Warthog will always have a special place in my heart… my father was part of the test and development group at Edwards AFB, where he worked on that beast of a gun…..I still have a couple of dummy GAU-8 rounds.

    I also got to watch them fire that sucker into the gun butts at the test range… does not sound like any gun out there…..