A-10 Thunderbolt II by Dana Bell

By Dana Bell

A-10 Warthog: intimately & Scale

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At that very moment, in late afternoon in Germany, when Messerschmitt was sucking up to the Führer, an American private was joining a morning reveille formation at Scott Field in Illinois. William R. Wagner, known as Bill, was having a tough time. “I’m really good with code because I have a musical ear,” Wagner said to a buddy. “But the mechanics of the radio are too much for me. ” Wagner wanted to fight. Being of Jewish heritage, he hoped especially that he would be permitted to fight in Europe, where he was hearing terrible things about the Nazi regime.

If the AAF had invested in it when Johnson first mooted it in 1939, the entire war might have unfolded differently. But Johnson would not produce a jet aircraft until his spinach-green XP-80, wearing the name Lulu Belle on the nose, flew on January 8, 1944, with Milo Burcham in the cockpit. It wouldn’t see combat in this war, but would shine in Korea as the F-80 Shooting Star. READY TO FLY Getting a chance to fly, even during wartime, was a real draw for many of the young Americans, who had already experienced a lot of sacrifice as children of the Great Depression.

Army Air Corps decreased until in 1937 only 184 graduated from pilot training. In 1939, responding to a call for expansion by Roosevelt, the air corps announced a plan to graduate 4,500 pilots in the following two years. It was too ambitious by half. Lacking facilities to train so many cadets, in mid-1939 the air corps contracted with nine of the best civilian flying schools to begin training pilots. When France fell to Germany in 1940, the air corps increased the number of pilots to be trained to seven thousand per year.

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