Not long ago, some lucky residents in Michigan got scared by seeing four A-10 Thunderbolts landing in the middle of a local highway. It was not some invasion ordered by the Michigan Air National Guard, to whom the planes belonged to, but part of an exercise.
The Thunderbolt you’re looking at now (click main photo to expand) has been captured on camera shortly after being refueled mid-air in the skies over Iowa and Missouri. This one belongs to Missouri’s own Whiteman Air Force Base, and its closeup seems like a perfect way to kick off our Photo of the Day section this week.
And what a sight it is! Of all the military airplanes out there, the Thunderbolt is without a doubt the most impressive one for a lot of people, both friends and foes. Its unique design, which is in part responsible for the plane getting the Warthog nickname, is recognizable all over the planet, instilling either hope or fear, depending on where the Avenger seven-barrel Gatling gun the plane packs is pointing at.
In essence a winged weapons platform, the Thunderbolt’s most scary fitting is the said gun. Hidden in its nose, it can fire rounds from an altitude of 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) directly at the ground. Its precision from that high up is frightening, being capable of showering anti-tank projectiles at a target area just 40 feet (12 meters) in diameter.
The Fairchild Republic (now Northrop Grumman) machine is quite the performer in the air as well. Its pair of General Electric turbofan engines can take it to an altitude of 45,000 feet (13,636 meters), pushing it forward for as much as 800 miles (1,287 km) at speeds that can reach 420 mph (676 kph).
And America is the only nation using these beasts, with the Air Force fielding over 700 of them.