A-7B Corsair II

This A-7B Corsair II, Bu No. 154479, was built in Grand Prairie, Texas by Chance Vought in 1968.

The Vought A-7 Corsair II was developed in the early 1960s as a carrier-capable subsonic light attack aircraft intended to replace the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The A-7 airframe was based on the successfulVought F-8 Crusader. It was one of the first combat aircraft to feature a heads-up display (HUD), an inertial navigation system (INS), and a turbofan engine.Vought Aircraft of Dallas received a contract for the first batch A-7s in 1964. The aircraft was named “Corsair II” after Vought’s famous F4U Corsair of World War II. The World War II era fighter was actually aircraft to have the name — the first was the O2U Corsair biplane from the 1920s. The A-7 made its first flight in September 1965 with the Navy receiving its first operational aircraft in 1966. Navy Attack Squadron ONE FOUR SEVEN, VA-147, “Argonauts” was the first to operate the A-7 in 1967. By the end of the year the aircraft was flying over Vietnam.

The 35,000 Vought employees in Dallas turned out one aircraft a day for several years. The aircraft was also adopted by the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard to replace the Douglas A-1 SkyraiderNorth American F-100 Super Sabre and Republic F-105 Thunderchief. Almost 1,600 aircraft were built in 15 different models. The last US A-7 was retired in 1989.

From the logbook and memories of Craig “Spike” Taylor who flew this A-7:

I had flown that particular aircraft. You prompted me to check my logbook, and these are the dates and missions that I flew the aircraft. Our logbooks were maintained by a clerk, so I cannot attest the accuracy.

1969 Date, Hours, Flying From, Mission (to the best of my recollection)

February 6, 2.2 hours, Lemoore, Mirror Practice

February 28, 1.5 hours, Cubie Point, Low Level training

March 6, 2.4 hours, CVA-14 (USS Ticonderoga), Maintenance Test Flight

March 8, 2.0 hours, CVA-14, Combat – troop support north of Danang

March 11, 2.2 hours, CVA-14, Combat – Laos near Tchepone with FAC

March 30, 2.4 hours, CVA-14, Training – Mines, if I remember correctly

As I recall, the airplane became a “Hanger Queen” serving as a parts donor during April, May and June, when parts shortages were acute. This probably could be verified through the VA-25 maintenance records, or the aircraft logbooks if they are available.

July 1, 2.3 hours, CVA-14, Combat – Laos with FAC

July 15, 2.2 hours, CVA-14, Combat – Laos with FAC (I believe that it was on this hop that I chased a yellow bulldozer away from road reconstruction at least twice! (Probably it was made in Peoria IL and shipped to North Vietnam in an English freighter…). I do not think that I got any direct hits, but I slowed him down a bit with pairs of 500# bombs!

July 20, 2.0 hours, CVA-14, Combat – probably near the tri-border area with FAC

July 21, 2.3 hours, CVA-14, Combat – Central Laos with FAC

July 23, 1.8 hours, CVA-14, Night Combat – probably in Laos. During this time we were triple-cycling (3 back to back flights day and night: 2 hour brief, 2 hour flight, 2 hour debrief for a total of 18 hours a day). I dozed off in the cockpit going feet wet, and felt the shadow of Ross Underhill’s aircraft pass over me. It was a huge adrenalin shot! At 0300 I got an OK-3 pass, and needed an extra shot of medicinal alcohol from the flight surgeon.

July 24, 2.3 hours, CVA-14, From the length of the flight, this should be the flight that I went out as a spare with our sister squadron, VA-86. At the target in Laos the division leader set up a racetrack pattern (we always made our runs from separate directions to make the bad guys firing solutions difficult). After my second pass and pulling up to the racetrack pattern, a number of tracers (37mm or 57mm) came up in the direction I was flying. I rolled inverted, and pulled down about 2000 feet. Rolling upright I saw the flash of the AAC shells going off right where I would have been. I had no gun control radar warnings, and we were flying lights out. I can only surmise that they were tracking us aurally! The NVA were good!

July 27, 2.1 hours, CVA-14, Day Combat

July 28, 1.8 hours, CVA-14, Day combat, near the tri-border in South Vietnam

I wish that I had kept a diary, so that I could give specific mission data. I hope that this helps. Of course, we were not assigned a specific aircraft, but flew whatever aircraft Maintenance could provide for us. We returned from cruise in late September. I flew the aircraft several times at Lemoore before transitioning to the A-7E.

It is possible that BuAer # 154479 did sustain some damage. If the logbooks show damage to the radome and radar, it is possible that it was the aircraft that encountered a 20mm dummy (blue) round, which struck the radome and radar during a dive bomb run. As I recall the round impacted the radome sideways, as though it was spent and was falling. It did inflict quite a bit of damage. In addition, the round showed no rifling. Our spook at the time surmised that it was possible that the NVA salvaged a MK 12 cannon from a downed aircraft and made their own smoothbore barrel. This may also be the reason that the aircraft was out of service for so long. But why was the round a blue dummy?

Courtesy of the FIST OF THE FLEET ASSOCIATION: http://www.fistofthefleet.org

Our Vought A-7B-3-CV Corsair II, Navy Bureau of Aeronautics No. 154479, c/n B-119, was built in 1968 in Dallas or Grand Prairie, Texas. The Navy accepted the aircraft on August 21, 1968.In October 1968, the A-7 was assigned to Attack Squadron ONE TWENTY TWO, VA-122, “Flying Eagles” at NAS LeMoore, California. The unit was also known as “Corsair College.” It carried tail code “NJ” and the aircraft number “_(researching)_”. This unit was a fleet replacement squadron.

The aircraft then served with Navy Attack Squadron TWENTY FIVE, VA-25, “Fists of the Fleet”, beginning in October 1968. It carried the tail code “AH” and was numbered “503.” The squadron made three deployments to Vietnam.

The first deployment was from February 1, 1969, until September 18, 1969, on the USS Ticonderoga to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

The second deployment was October 27, 1970, until June 17, 1971, aboard the USS Ranger to the Western Pacific/Vietnam.

The third deployment was also aboard the USS Ranger from November 16, 1972, until June 23, 1973, to Western Pacific/Vietnam.

Manufacturer:  Chance Vought Aircraft
Crew:  1
Length:  46 feet 1.5 inches
Wingspan:  38 feet 9 inches
Height:  16 feet 0.75 inches
Wing area:  375 square feet
Airfoil:  NACA 65A007 root and tip
Empty weight:  19,490 pounds
Max. takeoff weight:  42,000 pounds
Powerplant:  1 × Allison TF41-A-2 turbofan, 14,500 pounds of thrust
Maximum speed:  600 knots (698 mph)
Combat radius:  621 nautical miles
Ferry range:  2,485 nautical miles with external fuel tanks
Service ceiling:  42,000 feet
Guns:  1× 20 mm M61 Vulcan 6-barreled cannon with 1,030 rounds
Hardpoints:  6× under-wing and 2× fuselage pylon stations (for mounting AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs only) with a capacity of 15,000 pounds and provisions to carry combinations of:
Rockets: 4× LAU-10 rocket pods (each with 4× 127 mm Mk 32 Zuni rockets)
2× AIM-9 Sidewinder AAM
2× AGM-45 Shrike Anti-radiation missile (ARM)
2× AGM-62 Walleye TV-guided Glide bomb
2× AGM-65 Maverick
2× AGM-88 HARM
2× GBU-8 electro-optically guided Glide bomb
Up to 30× 500 pound Mark 82 bombs or Mark 80 series of unguided bombs
Paveway series of laser-guided bombs
Up to 4× B28 nuclear bomb/B57 nuclear bomb/B61 nuclear bombs
Other: up to 4 × 300/330/370 gallon drop tanks
Texas Instruments AN/APQ-126 terrain following radar
  • April 1969: Following the shoot down of a Navy EC-121 aircraft by the North Koreans, Ticonderoga (CVA14), with VA-25 embarked, was ordered to the Sea of Japan.
  • November 21, 1970: Squadron aircraft flew Rescue Combat Air Patrol sorties while an Army-Air Force search and rescue team landed at the Son Tay POW compound, 20 miles west of Hanoi, in an attempt to free American POWs. Unfortunately the POW compound had already been evacuated by the North Vietnamese.
  • December 1972: The squadron participated in Linebacker II Operations, heavy air strikes against targets primarily around Hanoi and Haiphong.
  • January 15, 1973: The squadron participated with several other squadrons in a large laser bombing attack against bridge targets in North Vietnam. This coordinated strike used the A-6’s Pave Knife Laser Designation System to guide laser-guided bombs dropped by A-7 aircraft.
  • January–February 1973: Following the cease fire with North Vietnam on 27 January, the squadron concentrated its attention on strikes.
  • against lines-of-communication targets in Laos until an agreement was reached with that country.

The aircraft served on two more deployments/cruises both on the USS Ranger. In 1974, from May 7 until October 18, to the Western Pacific and in 1976, from January 30 until September 7 to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean.

In May of 1978, the aircraft was transferred to Attack Squadron THREE HUNDRED FOUR, VA-304, “Firebirds.” It carried the tail code “ND” and aircraft number “412” (and perhaps “304”). This was a Reserve Squadron serving at NAS Alameda. The aircraft operated there until May 1982. It had no deployments during this time.

From (April or August) 1984 through April 1986, the aircraft served with Attack Squadron TWO HUNDRED FOUR (VA-204), “River Rattlers” at NAS New Orleans. It carried the tail code “AF” and aircraft number “411.” The aircraft may have been on one last cruise from June until July 1984 on the USS Eisenhower. This unit transitioned from A-7Bs to A-7Es in 1986. So, after almost 20 years of active service, this A-7 was retired.

The aircraft was transferred to the bone yard on July 11, 1986. AMARC assigned the aircraft the temporary number AN6A0182. It was stricken from the Navy inventory on August 17, 1987. On July 31, 2002, the aircraft was loaned to the Texas Aviation Historical Society in Dumas, Texas, and was put on display at the English Field Air and Space Museum in Amarillo, Texas. It remained there until the museum closed in 2007. It was then acquired by the Fort Worth Aviation Museum and was the 11th aircraft to join the museum. The aircraft will be painted and remarked in 2014.