UPDATED 24 January 2012

What We Need for 21st Century Combat?

"The way to build aircraft or anything else worthwhile is to think out quietly every detail, analyze every situation that may possibly occur, and, when you have it all worked out in practical sequence in your mind, raise heaven and earth and never stop until you have produced the thing you have started to make."

-- Glenn L. Martin, 1918

P-47 Thunderbolt: American Stuka by Design


Not commonly known but the F-47 Thunderbolt had a last hurrah with the French fighting in Algeria in the 1950s...

The French COIN success in Algeria, 1954-1962

The funny ending of the story below is tainted with the disgusting smug American triumphalism that since we were so rich and mobilized we could just throw away P-47s and replace them. This is also connected to the shiny-bare-metal- we-don't-need-camouflage crap also seen at the end of WW2. We ain't living in WW2 anymore so the authors are in the wrong for ending the story at that point to go along with the current fascist America worship bandwagon to make the readers feel good because we DON'T make fighters by the thousands each month, we're lucky to get a few DOZEN in a year's time. If we were making fighters in the thousands, go ahead and gloat, you earned it. This generation HAS NOT.

Since we cannot replace our fighters we darn well better disperse, camouflage (in the air and on the ground) and harden them so they don't get caught on the ground in the face of an enemy "Bodenplatte" type attack.

And of course, we need a P-47/IL-2/Stuka equivalent for MAS ASAP.

The Air War Nobody Told You About
P-47 Thunderbolts on the Continent of Europe, 1944-45

Combat Aircraft, March 2004
by Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones

The P-47 Thunderbolt evoked fierce loyalty from pilots who flew it, but today one group of P-47 veterans is bitter. Thunderbolt veterans who fought on the European continent in the final year of World War II feel that their contribution has been forgotten. "People don't know we were there," said retired Col. James L. "Mac" McWhorter. "Air-to-ground action wasn't glamorous, and it attracted very little attention."

Today, war often appears clean and efficient when viewed on television screens.

But P-47 pilots know that combat can be dirty, gritty, and ugly. Consider, for example, the citation awarded to pilots of the 406th Fighter Group, for destroying a column of German vehicles attempting to escape advancing Allied forces near Chateauroux, France:

"Thirty-six P-47's of the 406th Fighter Group took off on September 7, 1944 at 15:05 hours and raced south of the Loire River to find the road from Chateauroux to Issoudon clogged with military transport, horse drawn vehicles, horse drawn artillery, armored vehicles and personnel. Attacking this enemy concentration, at minimum altitude, in spite of accurate ground fire, the...pilots...made pass after pass until their bombs, rockets, and ammunition were expended. The road was blocked for 15 miles with personnel casualties, wrecked and burning military transport. More than 300 enemy military vehicles were destroyed in this attack alone."

The citation continues: "The group returned to home base, and after being refueled and rearmed in a minimum length of time, returned to the scene of the action. Before the enemy could reorganize and extract the remnants of his column, a further 187 vehicles, including 25 ammunition carriers, were attacked and destroyed. In spite of intermittent rain and the hazard of landing at night on a slick tar paper runway...."

Left out of the citation is the fact that Thunderbolts frequently strafed horse-drawn supply columns, leaving behind tangled, bloody carcasses. Thunderbolt pilot Tom Glenn says, "The horses were not our enemy, but our assignment was to prevent those columns from harming our troops." The gruesome sight sometimes made pilots physically ill---not what they expected when they signed up for pilot training starry-eyed about the beauty of flight. "No one would call this slipping the surly bonds," says Glenn, in a reference to the lofty words of the poem "High Flight."

Those who sat in P-51 Mustang cockpits at high altitude on escort missions to Berlin were able to savor a little of the joy of flying. But for Ninth Air Force fighter pilots, the job meant living in infantry-like conditions at snow-covered, mud airstrips on the Continent and flying low-level strafing and bombing runs---"not clean, not comfortable, and certainly not glamorous," says Glenn, "but necessary...."

Low-Level Hell

To a man, the dozen P-47 pilots interviewed for this article agree that they might not be alive today had they been flying the P-51 instead of the rugged, eminently survivable Thunderbolt. As Americans learned later in Korea, the under-fuselage cooling system of the P-51 made the Mustang vulnerable to gunfire at low altitude, even small-arms fire from infantry rifles. The Mustang was a feisty filly at higher elevation, but the Thunderbolt offered the best chance to stay alive down low where the metal was flying around.

MYSTERY: Where were all the 15, 683 x F-47s when the 1950 Korean war unfolded? Surely their fuel hoggish nature would have been offset by their ruggedness to enemy fire...want to see a movie on F-51 vulnerability during ground attack in the Korean War, watch the Rock Hudson movie, "Battle Hymn".


Perhaps USAF fledgling fighter pilot narcissism so to it that the thousands of F-47s were scrapped or given away quickly in favor of the sexier F-51s....that with liquid-cooled engines were extremely vulnerable to ground fire later on in the Korean war...

Not for nothing, the Farmingdale, N. Y. manufacturer of the Thunderbolt was called the "Republic Iron Works" and had a reputation for building fighters that were big, roomy, and survivable. One P-47 returned to its European base with body parts from a German soldier embedded in its engine cowling. Another landed safely riddled with 138 holes from bullets and shrapnel.

P-47s rolled out of American factories in greater numbers than any other U. S. fighter, ever. There were 15,683 x P-47s, a figure that compares to 15,486 x P-51s, 13,143 P-40 Warhawks, and 10,037 P-38 Lightnings. But while the ubiquity of the Thunderbolt is undeniable, P-47 pilots are accustomed to being slighted. In an appalling gaffe, the U.S. National Air and Space Museum did not have a P-47 on permanent display until the omission was rectified in late 2003 at the museum's new Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, Washington, D.C. The Museum has long been the owner of a pristine, Evansville-built P-47D-30-RA (44-32691) but for many years had it loaned out to the Museum of Aviation at Warner Robins, Ga.

For men caught up in a down-and-dirty conflict on the European continent, it was indeed fortunate that the Thunderbolt existed at all---especially since the aircraft emerged from a conversation aboard a railroad car traveling between Dayton, Ohio, and New York in 1940. Republic Aviation's chief designer Alexander "Sasha" Kartveli, Army Capt. Marshall "Mish" Roth, and Republic's C. Hart Miller were coming back from a Wright Field conference, where they had learned that Republic's two fighters then being proposed to the Army, the P-44 Rocket and the XP-47 lightweight fighter, failed to give Army Air Corps the performance it wanted.

The trio discussed ways to exploit the best of what they had already -- the 2,000-hp. Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp 18-cylinder, twin-row air-cooled engine they had selected for the XP-47, a superb cockpit design, and the proven airfoil and wing of the P-43 Lancer and the proposed P-44. They talked of building on these positive features to create a more robust fighter. Kartveli jotted notes on the back of an envelope, giving rise to the myth that the Thunderbolt was designed this way.

The first XP-47B---a wholly different aircraft from the never-built XP-44 and XP-47---took to the air on May 6, 1941, with Republic's Lowery Brabham at the controls. Built around its massive engine and the extensive ducting system for its turbosupercharger, the new fighter dwarfed its competitors. Early in its career, pilots dubbed the aircraft the "Jug" because of its portly shape. Contrary to accounts published much later, the nickname had nothing to do with the P-47 being a juggernaut, although it assuredly was one.

By the time the Allies landed in Europe, the "razorback" configuration of early Thunderbolts (and the automobile-style door of the prototype) was giving way to the bubble canopy found on late P-47D models. The typical P-47D flown on the Continent by Ninth Air Force pilots had a 2,535- R-2800-59W radial, a 17,500-pound takeoff weight, and eight .50-caliber (12.7-mm) Browning M3 [heavy] machineguns packing 250 rounds each.

Formidable Fighter

Fifteen fighter groups, 45 squadrons, and about 14,000 pilots and maintainers made up the Thunderbolt force on the continent. For these men, air-to-air combat---normally the way a fighter pilot attained glory---was secondary. As 2nd Lt. Leslie Boze of the 365th Fighter Squadron described it, "We felt our efforts would help to win the war."

By D-Day, June 6, 1944, Thunderbolts were pouring from factories faster than pilots could fly them away. They were soon arriving in the combat zone in natural metal finish, devoid of the olive-drab camouflage scheme in which the Thunderbolt began its operational service. They were decorated with caricatures and names---the term "nose art" had not yet been invented---that reflected the personalities of their pilots. McWhorter's P-47 was named "Haulin' Ass." Boze's was "Blonde Trouble."

Bob Hagan of the 365th Fighter Group, the "Hell Hawks," remembers that the air-to-ground war seemed "very personal," as when he engaged in a one-on-one contest with a German gunner while strafing troops in a forest. Hagan remembers the gunner tracking him through each pass in the contest of survival, he did his best to outwit his adversary by jinking, then returning to make another strafing run. The war at low altitude could be very personal but on that occasion Hagan doesn't know whether he got the gunner after two or three passes. Looking down through trees, snow, and mush, he couldn't tell.

"I felt comfortable handling the Jug," Hagan said. "It was big and heavy [with a gross weight of 19,400 lb. in the P-47D-25 model], but it never felt that way." Hagan recalled that the P-47 created less engine torque than the P-40 Warhawk flown during training, that the Thunderbolt took off smoothly, and that acceleration forces rarely exceeded the 3 or 4 Gs encountered for a few seconds when coming off a target.

Hagan said the pilot did not feel the bombs coming off during a high-speed dive. He said Thunderbolt pilots typically closed to about 200 yards before opening fire on a ground target. "You could see smoke trailing from other Thunderbolts when they were firing. You sensed a vibration when the guns were being fired, but no big shaking." Thunderbolt pilots believed their eight guns gave them enormous firepower. Gun camera film supported that view.

Hell Hawk

While the emphasis was on air-to-ground fighting, Hagan and his fellow P-47 pilots faced German fighters as well. On October 21, 1944, the 365th FG "Hell Hawks" took off from Chievres, France on a sweep over the German frontier. The top cover unit, the 386th Fighter Bomber Squadron, spotted bogies at 22,000 feet---a flight of 30 Focke-Wulf Fw-190s. Diving out of the sun at the enemy formation, the Thunderbolts forced the -190's to break earthward, straight into the sights of the group's other two squadrons. In the huge, swirling air battle that followed, the Hell Hawks knocked down twenty-one of the enemy fighters.

Hagan was flying wing on the 386th's commanding officer when they slashed through the German flight. After a few minutes in the melee, Hagan's engine began smoking and his Thunderbolt lost power. He didn't think he'd been hit. Apparently, he had run into his leader's spent .50-caliber shell casings. Hagan dropped out of the action and turned toward Allied lines.

With his heavy Thunderbolt in a stable but steep glide, he knew the chances were slim that he'd make it to an emergency field. Hagan unbuckled his harness and squatted on the seat in preparation for bail-out. The young lieutenant hesitated: he was almost certain to be captured if he abandoned the plane so far east. Deciding to take his chances with his ship, he sat back down, strapped in, and willed the P-47 towards the front line and safety.

With a sudden jolt, the Thunderbolt's engine finally seized. Beyond the motionless prop, Hagan could see hilly terrain with small woodlots below. Too low to bail out and with no sizable pastures at hand, his only option was a forced landing. Heading into a small clearing, he realized his final glide would carry him right into a clump of trees at the far end. He banked as much as he dared in an attempt to swing wide of the timber looming ahead.

It was too much to ask of the heavy Jug. The Thunderbolt's right wing stalled and dipped toward the earth rushing by. Catching a wingtip, the big fighter cartwheeled across the pasture, in the process shedding the radial engine, both wings, and the tail section. As the P-47 tore itself apart, Hagan tumbled with the wreckage, protected by the sturdy cockpit structure. As the wreckage slid to a stop on the Belgian turf, the impact slammed his head against the instrument panel cracked several ribs. He was clear-headed enough to crawl from the crumpled cockpit, Hagan headed for a GI and a Jeep he'd spotted on a road bordering the pasture.

After making a successful, if painful, dash across the clearing, an exasperating Hagan asked the GI why he hadn't driven over to pick him up in the Jeep. "Because you landed in a minefield," the GI deadpanned.

The injured pilot's luck continued to hold. After going only two hundred yards, he was rushed by GIs who hustled him back through their lines to an aid station. He had crash-landed just 400 yards from the front, near Athus, Belgium. In eight weeks, Hagan was back flying combat in a new P-47. A few months later, hit by flak after strafing a Luftwaffe airfield at Leipzig, Germany, Hagan bellied in near the Ruhr Pocket and again evaded capture. (Hagan went on to a lifetime of many other aviation achievements, including making the first flight of the Cessna T-37 Tweet trainer, aircraft 54-716, on October 12, 1954).

Air Action

While the Thunderbolt's primary fight on the Continent was an air-to-ground war, there was aerial action as well.

1st Lt. Leslie Boze of the 365th Fighter Squadron was element lead in his Thunderbolt on a typical ground attack mission over Germany when he was drawn into an aerial battle. A Lt. Jones (first name unknown) was leading the flight, followed by 1st Lt. Tom Easterling. A pilot named Gallagher flew on Boze's wing in the second element.

Spotting a Wehrmacht truck convoy, Jones led the flight down in a tight spiral for a strafing attack. Jones, in the lead, opened fire with his eight .50-caliber [heavy] machine guns as Easterling curved in behind him.

Flak began to rise from the German convoy to meet the onrushing attack. In just a few seconds the four P-47's were caught in a vicious crossfire, and Easterling caught the worst of it. His plane staggered under the impact as Gallagher shouted over the radio, "Tom! The son-of-a-bitch is on fire! Get the hell out of it!" Easterling barely managed to bail out of the burning fighter. He opened his parachute just seconds before hitting the ground. Severely injured, Easterling struggled through pain and imprisonment until liberated from a POW camp at war's end.

Boze and Gallagher had barely digested the sight of Easterling's plane being hit when they caught sight of a pair of Bf-109s, boring in on their element. Boze pulled off the convoy and headed straight for the nearest -109. The Messerschmitt, a head-on silhouette, opened up with its 20mm cannon; Boze had to wait until his fifties came into effective range. The -109's cannon rounds came streaking by his canopy like a string of glowing white golf balls. Now Boze had the enemy in range, and he touched the trigger. The eight .50's reached out to the Messerschmitt and staggered it. Boze could see his armor-piercing incendiary rounds hitting home, sparkling over the wings and cowling of the onrushing fighter. The German pilot still came on, nose-to-nose, in a deadly game of chicken. Still scoring strikes on the -109, Boze held the trigger down as the two fighters came together. In the last split-second, the German pulled up and whipped over the top of Boze's Thunderbolt, a near-miss so close that he heard the roar of the -109's Daimler-Benz engine.

Looking back over his shoulder as he turned slightly, Boze caught sight of the enemy, smoking and slipping toward the wooded terrain below. The German slammed into the ground in an oily fireball. There was no parachute.

Winter War

Today, it is convenient to think of the war as a straight-line march of victories that led to Germany's defeat. It is also easy to think of the air war without considering what was happening on the ground.

Both approaches are too simple. The story of P-47 Thunderbolt pilots on the Continent ran parallel to the saga of combat Soldiers on the ground. In fact, pilot one pilot referred to the Thunderbolt as "a foxhole in the sky." The landings at Normandy, the slugfest in the Falais Gap, the Battle of the Bulge, and the final victory in Europe saw ground Soldiers and P-47 pilots fighting together.

Perhaps the best examples came in one of the largest battles ever fought (perhaps with the sole exception of Kursk, on the other front). A furious attack by German armies on December 16, 1944, surprised Allied troops in the Ardennes, a forested plateau in northern France that been the scene of earlier fighting in both world wars. The Germans opened the assault along a 50-mile front, initially with twenty-one infantry and armor divisions. They called it the Ardennes offensive; Americans called it the Battle of the Bulge.

Two weeks later, on January 1, 1945, the Luftwaffe launched Operation Bodenplatte (Baseplate), an air-to-ground effort against Allied airpower on the continent. Possibly 800 Luftwaffe aircraft struck about two dozen Allied airfields, including several where P-47s were based. By far the worst damage was inflicted at Y34 Metz-Frescaty airfield, where the 365th "Hell Hawks" suffered 22 x P-47s destroyed and 11 damaged. But in the course of destroying a total of 122 Allied aircraft on the ground, the Germans lost 200---and while only a handful of Allied personnel lost their lives, dozens of irreplaceable German pilots perished.

For a brief, shining moment, the Luftwaffe apparently believed the New Year's Day air attack had been a giant success. Anyone could have been forgiven for concluding as much after seeing the twisted, blackened, smoldering wreckage of Thunderbolts at Metz. The story of a captured German pilot illustrates how the conclusion was the wrong one.

Cocky Captive

The German was arrogant. Never mind that his Bf-109 had been shot out beneath him. He had begun the new year by parachuting into the American airfield at Metz, now lit up by the fires of burning P-47 Thunderbolts---a sprinkling of bright torches amid the gray January gloom and the dirty white snow.

Initially at least, the air attack seemed a stunning setback to American pilots, maintainers, and support troops. In the months since D-Day, most had gotten accustomed to crude living conditions, lousy weather, and a war in which Thunderbolts harried the German army at low level where a lot of metal was flying around. They were not, however, used to being attacked.

U.S. Army anti-aircraft gunners managed to shoot down eight of the sixteen Messerschmitt Bf- 109s that came over that day, and the German pilot was now an American prisoner as a result. Yet he obviously believed that his side had inflicted a major blow. Standing inside 365th FG headquarters with Maj. George R. Brooking, commander of the 386th Fighter Squadron, the German jerked his thumb out the window at the burning Thunderbolts and said in perfect English, "What do you think of that?"

There was no denying the damage. But American industry had turned out nearly 100,000 warplanes in the calendar year that had just ended. Within a few days, Metz was in full operation again and factory-fresh Thunderbolts---brought down from a marshaling center near Paris---lined the ramp. There was no mistaking the corpulent shape of the distinctive P-47s.

Brooking went back to see the German, who was still being held at the base. Brooking pointed to the new planes and asked, "What do you think of that?"

It was time for a little humility. The German looked at the spanking-new aircraft, just arrived from a heartland

FYI, the F-47's last hurrah appears to have been combat missions over Guatemala during the CIA's 1954 coup there for AmeroNazi Illuminati business interests...

Fixed-wing "Killer Bees" better than armed Helicopters: DoD/USMC screws-up Light Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (LARA) and gives us the need-an-airfield OV-10 Bronco

The first reality is the USMC should have stayed in the Army's OV-1 Mohawk program instead of leaving for snobby reasons in 1958. Had they done this, they would have already had a STOL COIN observation/attack aircraft when the Vietnam war started like the Army had.

Boeing Model 147 = Tilt-Wing Mohawk

Furthermore, the tax payers would have saved money while both services would have been farther along towards creating a TILT-WING VTOL version of both their Mohawks and we'd not be in the mess we are today where NEITHER service has an observation/attack plane! ...and the flying deathtrap V-22 tilt-rotor was killed dozens of lives and wasted $ BILLIONS of dollars all for nothing gained.

Actual OV-10 with floats to be seaplane fighter

Proposed Charger float-equipped seaplane fighter

Another aspect that has been overlooked is that had the LARA winner been properly equipped with short span or folding wings, they could have been fitted with floats and taken to sea on small surface ships to regain the seaplane fighters capability we lost when the SC-1/2 SeaHawks were wrongly retired in 1949 because they threatened the large aircraft carrier "mafia" of the U.S. Navy. The Goodyear Model 39 LARA candidate was a seaplane fighter!

LARA candidates

2012: Many Thanks to BlacktailFA for finding new and very rare LARA artwork!

Grumman Model 340 Mohawk

The first candidate offered to the LARA competition was indeed a tandem-seat Model 340 Mohawk. This would be too much egg-on-the-face of the egotistical marines, so it was eliminated from the competition.

Hiller K16 LARA proposal

Click on Pics for Full-Sized Versions

Beech LARA proposal

Lockheed CL-760 proposal

Martin LARA proposal

General Dynamics-Convair Charger Model 48 LARA COIN aircraft proposal with civilian variants

1964 = Twin-boom COIN fighter.
2-place Cabin mid-wing monoplane retractable landing gear
2 x 650hp P&W-Canada T74 (PT6) turboprops
span: 27 feet 6 inches wide
length: 34 feet 10 inches long
load: 6003# v: 319
range (ferry): 3000
ceiling: 21,300 feet
first flew: 11/25/64 (pilot: John W. Knebel)
9 foot contra-rotating props.

Produced in only 35 weeks from design, but lost out to North American OV-10, and it was the last complete aircraft to be built with the Convair nameplate. POP: 1 [N28K], destroyed in 1965 after its USN pilot successfully ejected at 100'.

Douglas Model 588

Goodyear Model 39: Seaplane Fighter that could land on water!

You can even build a 1:72 scale resin model of the GA-39!


Helio's Entry

North American N300 (OV-10) LARA proposal with civilian variants

What about the Land-Anywhere LARA? Why did it become the bloated OV-10 Bronco? What happened to it?

The Bronco's creator, legendary retired USMC Colonel K.P. Rice has recently posted a web site offering source documents on the Bronco fiasco that began with his L2 VMA concept which became the DoD LARA program that begat the OV-10 Bronco. The Convair Model 48 Charger met Rice's LARA concept of a short-wing COIN aircraft that didn't need airbases; the lazy and pampered fly boys and control freak DoD bureaucracy would have none of this!

K.P. Rice
Volante Aircraft Company
2020 S. Susan Street
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 545-0125

Email: KP@volanteaircraft.com
WWW: volanteaircraft.com

Rice wanted a fixed-wing observation/attack plane that could be CO-LOCATED with ground maneuver headquarters without need of an airfield via simplicity, small wingspan, and GROUND MOBILITY. Land and take-off anywhere--like Bush pilots in Alaska...


Rice states:


"The military definition of STOL (500' to a 50' obstacle) allows takeoff and landing in moist of the areas in which limited war might be fought. In addition, the airplane was designed to use roads so that operation would even be possible in jungle areas where clearings are few and far between. As a result the wingspan was limited to twenty feet and a heavy trailing arm type landing gear with a tread of 6.5ft was provided for operation from roads. Float operation is feasible...."


"...it is quite feasible to design the various components so that it can be disassembled easily and stored in a box that would fit in a 6x6 truck bed together with the equipment needed for re-assembly in the field. It could thus be transported by amphibious shipping and either heli-lifted or driven ashore by a 6x6 truck."

The OV-10 is a good example of where fuzzy requirements result in BS. The jarheads wanted a plane with narrower wings so it could STOL land like an Army grasshopper and the bureaucrats penciled this need out. Even folding wings could have helped enable co-location. It looks like the USMC flyboys perverted the OV-10 design and made it yet another aircraft we have to work around when the original intent was it to sublimate itself into ground and sea transportation as needed.

There are some bad infantry ideas inherent in the OV-10 like the 4 x 7.62mm medium machine guns which force the Bronco in too close to ground enemies when the fact is "infantry" units do indeed have at least .50 caliber (12.7mm) heavy machine guns mounted on ground vehicles so this longer ranged ammunition is available, but this is easily fixed as K.P. noted by retrofitting bigger guns like 20mm cannon which finally were used on the OV-10D.

Its funny how after all these years the USMC egomaniacs today do not have a single fixed-wing observation/attack aircraft in service and troops are dying because of it. USMC hubris is intolerable. We've taken K.P's white paper and posted it here in case it should suddenly "disappear" from the www.

Rice concludes:


"The original concept of a small, simple aircraft that could operate close to the supported troops had been almost completely eviscerated by the 'system.' The ability to operate from roads (20ft span and 6.5 tread) had been ignored, and performance compromised by the short 30ft span, the extra 1000lbs for the rough field landing gear and another 1000lbs of electronics. The 'light, simple' airplane also had a full complement of instruments, ejection seats and seven external store stations. The concept of using ground ordnance and a bomb bay had been ignored, although it did have provisions for four M-60 [medium] machine guns. In spite of this growth (almost double the size and weight of our home-built), the YOV-10 still had great potential. It would not achieve the advantages of integration with the ground scheme of maneuver, but it did have capabilities at the low end of the performance envelope that were still valuable and unique."





Sixteen years ago the aircraft industry hit the "con trails." The atom was smashed, the sound barrier broken. The era of boom and zoom was launched in the middle of the mushroom clouds. The man in the Buck Rogers suit became the new hero of the new age. Thermonuclear annihilation "push-button" style was as real a possibility as the miracle of the dial selector washing machine. But when the dark rain of fallout fell on an awestruck world, both sides of the international political question had grim second thoughts about resolving their differences by leaving a vacant spot in the solar system. The possibility of such a war remains with us. It must assuredly be prepared for!

Meanwhile, back in the foxholes of Korea, the jungles of Indo-China and the sands of Israel and Jordan, war proceeds pretty much as usual. Not the blast of the atom bomb, but the burst of machine gun fire breaks the silence of this "twilight peace" we are enjoying. The rifleman is no anachronism. He is very much with us and in active service. Read the daily newspaper.

The aviation complex, industrial and military, in its rightful pride and zeal, in being the instrument of the future and the vanguard for conquering space, has neglected the exigencies of current warfare and providing the requisite airborne support for same.


Limited war is a current reality. The USMC is an ideal weapon in such a war. The following study is a consideration of the modern concept of limited war in terms of current aviation capabilities and weaknesses, both tactical and logistical, with special attention to the need for a new type of aircraft designed specifically to eliminate these weaknesses. Better air support than that which can be obtained with current high performance type aircraft is needed, especially for limited war situations.

After studying the problem and determining in general the additional capabilities that are needed for adequate air support, various means of achieving these capabilities were examined. The most promising approach appeared to be a concept in which very light S.T.O.L. (short take off and landing) aircraft are used to supplement existing high performance types. Performance characteristics can be obtained with light aircraft which permit greatly increased effectiveness through tactical innovations.

Further advantages can be obtained by developing applicable weapons and tactics simultaneously with the vehicle needed to implement them. Aircraft design and tactics are interdependent and both must conform to expected requirements and environmental considerations. The explanation of a light support concept and description of the aircraft characteristics necessary to implement it are therefore complicated by a certain amount of background material.

The nature of war in which the marine corps might become involved in the next few years will be considered first. This will provide the background necessary to define current inadequacies in terms of probable combat environment. The advantages of meeting the resulting requirements through the use of a light attack vehicle will be compared with the possibility of replacing current aircraft with more complex and versatile types. Finally, specifications for a feasible light STOL support vehicle will be developed. Using the predicted performance of a sample vehicle, tactics for its employment will be described so that its effectiveness and viability can be evaluated.


1. General. The maintenance of a strong deterrent is a prerequisite to national existence and cannot be neglected. On the other hand, the ability to react rapidly and effectively in a limited or cold war situation is the greatest immediate military problem facing the United States today. It has become obvious that limited or cold war operations are much more likely than an all out war. The marine corps, as a "force in readiness," and by the virtue of its composition and amphibious capability, is particularly concerned with the limited war problem. While it is impossible to predict how and under what conditions a limited war would be fought, certain aspects of environment which could become critical in future operations can be foreseen.

2. Political Sanctuaries. One of the most significant limited war factors from an aviation standpoint is that political sanctuaries are not only a possibility, but a probability. Without political sanctuaries somewhere, the war could not be limited. In a limited war between two major powers, sanctuary areas are almost certain to exist because any threat to an opponent's strategic striking force will invite a thermonuclear holocaust. Attack on less vital sanctuaries will almost certainly enlarge the area of conflict. In the Korean War, the Chinese Communists operated from a sanctuary behind the Yalu River and United Nations forces at sea or in Japan were not attacked. Many people were angered and dismayed at this development during the Korean War. In the future we must be ready with equipment and tactics to operate in this environment more effectively than the enemy.

3. Air Superiority. The concept that air superiority is the prerequisite to victory and that it is achieved by bombing enemy airfields is inconsistent with a policy of limited war. Counter-air operations or the bombing of enemy airfields can no longer be accomplished except in the immediate combat area. The range of modern aircraft is such that few, if any, probable areas of operation are not within the range of likely sanctuaries. Since there is no way to eliminate the threat of attack from sanctuaries, we will have to be prepared to conduct military operations in spite of the threat of enemy air attack.

4. Air Defense. Another factor that must be considered is the difficulty of providing an adequate air defense for large fixed installations like airfields and logistics centers. If ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads are used, however, defense is an almost hopeless problem, if the enemy is really serious about the destruction of certain targets. Almost all anti-aircraft weapons, fighters, missiles and artillery depend on radar for warning, target acquisition or guidance. Radar is the bottleneck in air defense. It can not only be attacked directly with air or missiles, it can be evaded or its capabilities saturated. In the most likely limited war areas such as the Middle East or Indo-China, overland approaches at low altitudes offer an obvious way of avoiding most air defenses. Since large, fixed targets would at least be subject to attack and possibly might not be able to exist in a combat area, passive, rather than active, defense measures will become more important. Even the use of VTO aircraft or SATS with arresting gear and catapult would not provide effective passive defense for high performance aircraft, however. The base facilities necessary for supply, fuel, maintenance, instrument approaches, etc. would make a remunerative target, even if the runway could be eliminated altogether. As a result, both friendly and enemy aircraft may be forced to operate from sanctuaries outside the area of operation. With any large, fixed installation subject to attack, ground forces will require more air support to replace heavy weapons that are limited by logistics. The limited amount of naval gunfire support available and helicopter transportability will also be factors.

5. Major Environmental Considerations. A situation in which both sides are forced to operate aircraft from sanctuaries and all large targets in the objective area are destroyed is an extreme example and may never materialize. The following implications of this situation may apply wholly or only partially. However, they could be critical and must be treated as major environmental considerations:

a. Ground and air operations may have to be conducted in the face of enemy aerial opposition.

b. High-performance aircraft may be forced to operate from sanctuaries outside the area of operations.

c. Large, fixed targets may be too vulnerable to exist in a combat area, forcing ground forces to use dispersion and limiting logistics.

d. More direct air support will be required by ground forces than has been required in the past.


1. General. With these conclusions in mind, let's examine the requirements for air support more closely. First, while preparing for a limited war, we must still be ready for an "all out" nuclear conflict. The same aircraft that provide an adequate nuclear delivery capability for an "all out" war can also provide an adequate capability against large, fixed targets in a limited war. This capability is good whether nuclear or conventional weapons are carried. The development of the SATS concept provides the ability to deploy powerful aviation units to almost any area of the world. Even if operations may not be possible from fields in the actual combat area, the range of modern tactical aircraft permits their use over that area. When support requirements of ground forces are examined, however, we find important inadequacies.

2. Target Acquisition. Current high performance aircraft are limited first of all by their target acquisition capability. It is impossible to spot many small fleeting targets from a high speed jet. Mosquito [T-6] aircraft were necessary to spot targets even from prop type aircraft in Korea. A fleeting target spotted by the pilot of a jet, in many instances is lost before he can get into position for a run.

3. Armed Reconnaissance. A definite armed reconnaissance capability is needed. Not only must fleeting targets be dealt with, but intelligence is required. There is no means at present to fill the gap between reconnaissance that can be provided by helicopters and that provide by high-performance aircraft and drones. Neither is adequate for providing timely information on enemy armor, mechanized or helicopter-borne movements. Not only must the ground commander be warned of enemy movements of this nature, but an immediate attack should also be made.

4. Helicopter and Mechanized Forces. Dealing with helicopters and mechanized forces is a special problem. None of the current high performance aircraft have a reasonable capability against either. Even with missiles like Bullpup and Sidewinder available, it is difficult to see how properly equipped aircraft can be provided in time to find the targets or effectively employ the missiles, if they do. Dispersion and the use of cover and concealment will make the targets hard to find and the limitations of missiles at low altitude and close range will make the targets hard to hit. Support of helicopter and mechanized operations is similarly limited due to the fundamental disparity in normal performance and operating environment.

5. Discrimination or the ability to apply the proper amount of force on a few large targets or many small targets is especially required in limited or guerilla warfare where political and economic considerations are important. Inaccurate or excessive force can so damage a cause politically that the military gains are cancelled. The safety of troops being supported also comes under this heading. High performance aircraft can carry larger loads, but do not have the accuracy or flexibility required for adequate discrimination where small targets are concerned. The recent addition of multiple racks on the A4D [SkyHawk] is a progressive step, but the fact that area bombing techniques are being developed for their use is an indication of the pinpoint accuracy that can be expected. An A4D with multiple 250 lb. bombs is not the ideal weapon to use against a guerilla on a camel. Likewise its use in close proximity to our own troops is not calculated to raise morale. The strafing capability that provided a high degree of discrimination in the past, has been greatly weakened by the type of guns and ammunition carried by most high performance aircraft as well as by their performance characteristics.

6. Integration with Ground Forces Scheme of Maneuver. For effective limited war operations the air support effort should be as closely integrated with the ground scheme of maneuver as is the artillery which it will have to replace to an ever greater degree. This can be achieved only by utilizing aircraft that are readily available, properly armed and whose pilots are at least familiar with the ground situation. The difficulties here are obvious. The number of aircraft available, their discrimination and target acquisition capabilities, control and communications all present serious problems. Even navigation to the target area might become a serious problem in some instances, if NAVAIDS like TACAN are not located nearby. Enemy aircraft and missile tactics as well as economic and logistic factors oppose the use of support planes circling on station waiting for targets.

7. Requirements. The probable environment of future wars is such that mobility, flexibility, passive defense and logistics will be of paramount importance. Ground forces will require more air support that they have in the past. In order to provide the requisite support future operations will require:

a. A much better target acquisition capability.

b. A good armed reconnaissance capability.

c. A discriminating close support capability.

d. A better mechanized and helicopter attack support capability.

e. A method of integrating air support with ground scheme maneuver.


1. General suitable and Effectiveness. It is the inability to deal adequately with small, fleeting targets that accounts for most of the inadequacies in air support. The development of highly sophisticated electronic equipment for new attack aircraft like the A2F is one approach to the problem. When equipment like side-looking and terrain clearance radar is perfected and used in conjunction with some of the newer guided weapons, it will provide a really formidable all-weather capability.

Developments along this line are desirable because of the great improvement in total effectiveness they will permit especially in bad weather and at night. The price will be high, however, in maintenance and logistic support as well as in initial cost. Moreover, it doesn't solve the basic problem. Relatively large numbers of aircraft are required to find and destroy numerous small targets.

Even if the effectiveness of these new developments is granted, it seems fairly obvious there would seldom be enough of these specialized aircraft to meet all requirements. Integration with the ground scheme of maneuver would be especially difficult, if the supported units were small and separated and the aircraft were based in a sanctuary some distance away. Discrimination and survivability are also problems. In short, the use of new type aircraft with sophisticated electronic equipment will provide a valuable capability, but will not meet all requirements for dealing with multiple small fleeting targets.


A road in Muong Sing, Laos, 7 miles from Communist border from which light support aircraft could operate.

1. General. The development of new aircraft and associated weapons systems has been characterized by a mechanical approach to combat. Speed is the answer to defense and survivability problems; range is the answer to the vulnerability of the base; black boxes are being added for target acquisition. While this approach has produced many advances, it has limitations. The previously noted inadequacies can be attributed largely to an emphasis on performance as a substitute for tactics. Analysis of the close air support problem indicates that here, at least, is one issue that can be better solved by making the weapon implement the tactics, than forcing the tactics to support the weapon.

2. Concept-of-Operations. The light STOL support concept involves a new type of tactical aircraft distinct from the fighter, attack and observation types presently in use. It is intended to supplement high performance types presently in use by exploiting military possibilities in the lower end of the performance spectrum. Light support aircraft would operate at low altitudes with relatively light loads. Effectiveness would be achieved by getting close to the target for extreme accuracy. The ability to conduct dispersed operations from roads or unprepared terrain in the vicinity of supported elements would minimize problems of security and defense against air attack. Evasive tactics, heavy armor and low radiation return, rather than speed would be used for defense in the air. Logistics requirements would be kept to a minimum by simplicity of design and by the use of infantry type ordnance and supporting equipment as far as possible.

3. Capabilities. This type aircraft could provide the ground commander with limited, but effective, air support. The commander would be able to counter or support armored or helicopter operations. He would also have an effective means of observation and target acquisition. In addition he would have an accurate discriminatory weapon to use against the many important targets that are too small to justify the use of more expensive weapons. The armed reconnaissance capability would be especially valuable in limited or guerilla type operations.

4. Feasibility. The key to this concept obviously is the airplane and its capabilities. Can an aircraft be built within the current state of the art which has the requisite performance? If it can be built, how will it be operated? Who will operate it and what tactics will be necessary to provide for accomplishment of its mission with reasonable survivability? To answer the first question it was necessary to design an actual airplane making the many compromises that are a part of every design. The performance of the resulting aircraft can be used to evaluate its theoretical combat effectiveness.


1. Operate with Supported Troops. The first design requirement considered was that the airplane be able to operate with the supported troops without the necessity of any fixed base installation. This would permit integration with the ground scheme of maneuver and provide the minimum passive defense against counter air operations in the combat area. Operations from within a regimental or battalion perimeter would also minimize the security problems that beset forward tactical airfields, especially where guerilla action on infiltration tactics are considered. The military definition of STOL (500' to a 50' obstacle) allows takeoff and landing in moist of the areas in which limited war might be fought. In addition, the airplane was designed to use roads so that operation would even be possible in jungle areas where clearings are few and far between. As a result the wingspan was limited to twenty feet and a heavy trailing arm type landing gear with a tread of 6.5ft was provided for operation from roads. Float operation is feasible.

L2 Size Contrast with the AD [SkyRaider]

2. Minimum Logistics. Operations with the supported troops also demand that logistics be kept to a minimum. Therefore, the airplane is small having a gross weight of 5300lbs for STOL operation. Two turboprop engines of 500hp each using 7 1/2' props and the principle of deflected slipstream can provide the necessary takeoff performance. Fuel consumption would not be excessive - about 50 gal/hr and the engines can be burned, i.e., MO-gas, kerosene, JP-5. Simple design and more particularly the elimination of "black boxes" should make maintenance easy. Very little support equipment should be needed since there is no component that cannot be lifted by hand. Provision for the use of infantry ordnance further simplifies the logistics problems. A small bomb bay and external racks can be used for carrying bazookas, recoilless rifles or 4.2 mortar shells, if they can be modified efficiently for aircraft use. The primary weapon would be multiple M-73 machine guns. This allows maximum flexibility. If logistics are critical and STOL operations necessary, infantry type ordnance would be carried and all necessary support provided by 6x6 truck or helicopter. On the other hand, if an air base or carrier were available, better than 2,000lbs of aviation type ordnance could be carried.

3. Ordnance.

a. General. It is not considered necessary or desirable to carry an extremely heavy ordnance load. Accuracy, proper tactics and weapons matched to targets will provide effective firepower as distinguished from blind, destructive force. Provision is made for a capability against relatively soft, fleeting targets like troops and unarmored vehicles; for hard point targets like tanks; and for larger targets like bridges and bunkers. The aircraft will be able to carry sufficient ordnance to execute an interdiction type strike effectively and still provide a good armed reconnaissance capability on the same sortie.

b. Guns. The most effective all around weapon will be the four 7.6mm machine guns (or similar type weapons) which are effective against troops, unarmored vehicles and helicopters. Strafing is not limited by safe separation requirements and targets can be hit with precision without risking damage to nearby personnel or property. There would be no particular problem in mounting 20mm guns, if necessary. However, unless developments like the German anti-tank 20mm prove effective, the heavier guns would probably not be desirable.

c. Hard Point Targets. The problem with hard, point targets like tanks is to get close enough for a direct hit without getting caught by blast effect. The easiest weapon to use would be the 106mm recoilless rifle because of its accuracy, effectiveness and minimum blast problem. However, these weapons are quite heavy, provide only one shot and haven't as yet been used from aircraft. Aircraft rockets like Zuni or the 2.75 while not as accurate are considerably lighter. The bazookas or the newer LAW could be fired at a close enough range to score hits and still avoid excessive blast effects. Another possibility is dive-bombing with small bombs. The Germans had some success with this approach in World War II on the Russian Front. Guided missiles like Bullpup or some of the smaller types could be carried, if necessary.

d. Miscellaneous Targets. For bunkers, roads and rail cuts and bridges, low-level attack with delay fuse bombs seems to be the best approach. Napalm, a number of small bombs or possibly mortar shells or their equivalent could also be carried, if the situation so warranted.

e. Sample Loads. While further evaluation of specific weapons is required, the aircraft will be able to carry a sufficient quantity of aviation or modified infantry type ordnance to provide an extremely flexible capability. The following loads would be feasible and give an indication of the possibilities of the aircraft:

(1) In a dispersed situation, operating with the infantry, where logistics are critical and aviation type ordnance is not available.

(a) Four machine guns for troops, unarmored vehicles and helicopters.

(b) Packages of Bazookas or LAW rackets for use against tanks and hard, point targets. If these aren't practical, two-106mm Recoilless Rifles could possibly be carried.

(c) Up to twelve-4.2" mortar shells or the equivalent in the bomb bay for area type targets. The bomb bay could be used alternately to carry up to 500lbs of supplies for air drop.

(2) From a short forward airfield with aviation ordnance:

(a) Four machine guns for troops, vehicles and helicopters.

(b) A choice of five inch or 2.75" rocket packs or guided missiles for tanks and hard, point targets.

(c) A 500 lb. GP or napalm bomb.

(d) An observer and a camera in the bomb bay.

4. Protection Against Small Arms is provided by approximately 400 lbs. of armor around the cockpit. Since there are two engines which are very small targets, they will either be lightly armored or not armored at all. The fuel will be carried in tip tanks that can be jettisoned, if set on fire. A small 10-15 gallon sump tank will provide protected fuel for return and landing.

5. Maneuverability is required for the violent jinking which experience has shown to be very effective evasive action. The 30-35 lbs. wing loading, 10-G load factor, low stall speed and a 3,000' per minute rate of climb should permit impressive maneuverability. The top speed is approximately 260 kts. indicated. It is estimated that an average combat speed in the vicinity of 175 kts. ca be maintained even with continuous violent maneuvering.

6. Low Radiation Return will provide a desirable defensive characteristic, if more sophisticated weapons systems are encountered. Low radar return will be achieved by maximum use of fiber glass structures and anti-radar "paint." Infrared output will be small to begin with and the addition of exhaust shielding should effectively neutralize the threat of IR missiles like Sidewinder and Redeye.


7. Armed Reconnaissance. Since an armed reconnaissance capability is required and it is visualized that many of the tasks performed by fixed-wing VMO types could also be performed, provision is made for two seats. The seat for the observer is located in the bomb bay and can be removed when not in use. Visibility is of prime importance in an aircraft of this type. Therefore, a configuration with both seats in front of the wing was decided upon. The wing is set approximately even with the pilot's shoulders providing 360 degree visibility above the wing. Un-obstructed visibility forward and back under the wing for a considerable distance gives the pilot the best possible combination. The observer is limited by the pilot in front of him and the wing behind him, but he should be able to see almost straight ahead by looking around the pilot's head and will be able to back under the wing about 30 degrees. Side by side seating was rejected because it would limit visibility for the pilot in the attack role. Increased frontal area would also cause more drag and present a better target.

8. Safety. Because of its small size and moderate speed this airplane can be made quite strong. It is designed to withstand a load factor of 10-G so that the pilot needn't worry about exceeding the limits. The combination of low stall speed and robust construction should make it relatively safe in the event of a crash landing or ditching. However, the reliability of the two engines makes forced landings an unlikely eventuality. Ejection seats are not considered necessary since bail-out over the side could be accomplished. On an aborted takeoff, a forced landing would probably be safer than ejection because of the low speed. This airplane should be safe and easy to fly, thus enabling the pilot to concentrate on tactical training rather than long check-outs and involved instrument procedures. While instrument flying will be provided, it is considered that this type of aircraft should be flown VFR exclusively in combat. Operations are possible with a ceiling of 200 feet with one-half mile visibility and dive bombing can be conducted with a 2,000ft ceiling. While operations will not be possible 100% of the time, they will be possible a higher percentage of the time than in current attack types and, moreover, without the necessity of any landing aids like CGA.

9. Transport to the Area of Operations. For transport to the area of operations there are a series of choices. With ferry fuel tanks a range of over 2,000 miles can be obtained at a cruising speed of about 240 kts. at approximately 25,000 ft. If a carrier deck were available, of course, the airplane could fly off with ease and it should be noted that storage space required would be small. While the first experimental aircraft will not have this feature, it is quite feasible to design the various components so that it can be disassembled easily and stored in a box that would fit in a 6x6 truck bed together with the equipment needed for re-assembly in the field. It could thus be transported by amphibious shipping and either heli-lifted or driven ashore by a 6x6 truck.

10. Deep Rescue. The airplane has what appears to be a very good capability for deep rescue in enemy territory. The STOL characteristics would permit landing near a downed pilot who could enter the plane rapidly through the bomb bay doors. The armor, low radiation return and relative high cruising speed compared to a helicopter would make it valuable at long ranges in spite of the fact that the helicopter's ability to hover would over-balance these factors at short ranges.

11. Communications is always a problem in combat. In this case it appears that the provision of a standard UHF a/c radio would permit control through ANGLICO facilities and communication with high performance aircraft. The UHF facilities could be used for overriding central control by a TACC for rescue or emergency. It would also be used to control high performance a/c on targets where their heavier ordnance was necessary, adding an airborne controller to the ANGLICO capability. L.F. radio of some sort is also required in order that intelligence and gunfire spotting missions can be accomplished. This should not pose a difficult problem. In most cases organic infantry communications equipment could be used and, in addition, there is space in the back bomb bay for it.


1. Organization. Now that the airplane has been described, general principals affecting tactics and employment will be covered in order that its effectiveness and survivability can be evaluated. An organization will have to be developed which is flexible enough to provide administration, maintenance and training in garrison and to permit either centralized or local control in combat. If the tactical situation permitted, a small airstrip with central logistics support would allow maximum efficiency and flexibility in accordance with the concept of centralized control. In a dispersed situation, where logistics, communications and passive defense were controlling factors, a small headquarters based at the nearest available sanctuary field could provide major maintenance and replacements for units operating with a regiment or battalion. For operations in the field, aircraft would probably be used in pairs. This would permit a choice of single plane operation with a back-up or section operation. It would also allow more efficient use of the limited support equipment required.

2. Tactics. Tactics would, of course, depend on the enemy situation and whether centralized or local control were used. The performance characteristics of this light attack type are such that everything from single plane missions using low altitude evasive tactics, to coordinated strikes utilizing the principles of flak suppression, saturation and diversion could be used. Speed is the only "tactic" that is not available. On the other hand, the tight turning radius and low combat speed of the light attack plane will permit dive bombing as steep as 70 degrees with a release altitude below 1,000ft. In addition, strafing and low-level runs can be pressed to a very close range. An extremely high degree of accuracy can be achieved in this manner since accuracy is a function of range. Maneuverability and moderate speed in combat will also be extremely valuable in rough terrain and against hard targets such as tunnels or bunkers.

(a) Helicopter Operations will require considerable attention in the future and the light attack type is ideally suited to this problem. Performance characteristics are such that helicopter operations can either be supported or opposed with facility. The light attack is fast enough to catch helicopters or provide cover for them, but is not too fast to operate in the same general area. It also has the firepower and maneuverability necessary for rapid decisive action and attack.

(b) Defense Against Fighters and Guided Missiles will be accomplished primarily by evading the radar that these weapons depend upon so heavily. Infrared shielding will provide additional protection. In the event that enemy fighters do make contact the addition of a pair of Sidewinders would leave the enemy with little advantage except initiative.


1. General. The tactics and aircraft design which resulted from this study embody many innovations and further development and testing will be required to perfect detailed aircraft specifications and tactical doctrine. The use of light aircraft does show considerable promise, however, and the major aspects of the concept can be evaluated by an application of the checks of suitability, feasibility and acceptability.

2. Suitability. Light aircraft are the only means of providing a good target acquisition, armed reconnaissance and discrimination capability. The capability of dealing with helicopter and mechanized forces and to provide adequate integrated air support has not been physically demonstrated. Suitability in these areas may be questioned on the basis of firepower or ordnance load. It would seem, however, that loads comparable in tonnage to those carried by WWII fighter-bombers would be adequate, especially, if the ordnance and tactics were matched to the target. The ability to serve as an airborne controller for high-performance aircraft and to make numerous relatively short-range sorties should compensate for lack of tonnage on any one sortie. While further tests are required to determine optimum weapons, the required tasks can be accomplished by light aircraft and the concept generally meets the test of suitability.

3. Feasibility. A light aircraft with the general characteristics required is definitely feasible. Some innovations such as the ability to operate from roads or use infantry ordnance are not proved, but these affect the concept only to a limited degree. An engineering feasibility study involving all major aspects of design has been completed and checked by prominent aeronautical design engineers.

4. Acceptability. Is it worth what it costs in dollars, lives and logistics? Dollar cost is negligible compared with other aircraft and since no tactical type aircraft would be replaced by implementation of this concept, no existing military capabilities will be lost. Vulnerability is a question which can be resolved completely only in combat and must be considered in relation to mission and the tactical situation. The relative immunity of this type aircraft to attack on its base is a great advantage and passive defense measures and tactics enable it to evade much of the opposition. It seems to be a fairly safe assumption that close support operations at least can be conducted without the prohibitive losses and that vulnerability will be considerably less than that of helicopters. This type plane will not be absolutely safe, invulnerable or invincible, but then neither is the rifleman who needs its support. Logistically, light aircraft offer overall advantages, especially where rapid reaction to limited war situations are required. The only time that logistic acceptability is a consideration is in a dispersed situation where the aircraft are operated with the infantry. The commander concerned will have to decide whether the airplane will be more effective per unit of logistic support that other weapons such as artillery. The small amount of extra fuel required by light aircraft should be offset in most cases by greater ease in transportation to the combat area and greater flexibility. At least the commander should be provided the opportunity to choose.

5. Conclusion. The weakness of current aviation capabilities in terms of limited war must be faced and eliminated. As far as can be determined without actual operational testing, the use of light aircraft is suitable, feasible and acceptable. This light support concept must be considered in relation to the possibility of achieving needed capabilities that are not available now and may not be available through any other means.

Deja Army Wimp-out All Over Again? The Death--and Re-Birth of the Combat-proven Grasshopper concept

However, the realization that aeroscouting can be done better by small, two-seat fixed-wing aircraft than small helicopters is not a new revelation:

The excellent Vietnam grunt web pages, points this out when describing the O-1F "Bird Dog":

"Early Army combat experience in Vietnam pointed out quite forcefully the need for a fixed-wing Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft to replace the OH-13 Sioux and OH-23 Raven helicopters initially used in that role. The two aging helicopters were quickly found to be totally unsuited for observation work in the 'hot and high' conditions routinely encountered in Southeast Asia, and both the Army and USAF therefore fell back on the much more capable O-1. The Bird Dog's performance was excellent in comparison to that of the Sioux and the Raven, and the Cessna also had a far better maintenance record and considerably lower operating costs."

Yet when push came-to-shove, the Army wimped out to the wishes of the assholes in the USAF who don't want to do CAS, and while the Army flew over 300 Bird Dogs at a time over Vietnam the USAF ended up reluctantly flying O-1 Bird Dogs in Vietnam, and later on OV-10 Broncos and O-2 SkyMasters. When the war/need passed, the USAF got rid of the fixed-wing observation/attack planes as soon as they could. The Army whined about a lack of power/speed as if their slower helicopters had this and gave up on their Bird Dogs. Egomaniacs in the USMC were not far behind retiring their OV-10s in 1993.

Today, the Army pattern of cowardice continues by trying to put together a BS unmanned attack helicopter called the UCAR.

The current FCS concept using a micro-UAV helicopter

The U.S. Army right now is trying to launch a micro-helicopter from the Future Combat System (FCS) network of wheeled armored cars to provide overhead surveillance and possibly an attack capability akin to Speed Racer's mechanical bird. However, the A160 Hummingbird helicopter UAV while an advanced technology design is nowhere near large enough to carry a significant ordnance payload to attack/destroy targets and would be at best a nuisance. The "soda straw" narrowness of view of UAVs in general works against the A160 Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft or "UCAR" being effective at CAS. CAS is often a "cat and mouse" game where it takes the active involvement of a man in the aircraft to exploit the opportunity of the enemy revealing his presence or our ground troops directing him to strike at a fleeting target. We need a man in the cockpit to have this kind of agility.

While I agree with Carlton Meyer's armed manned micro-helicopter Air Cavalry concept I conjecture that a light fixed-wing manned attack aircraft that can take-off from extremely short dirt runways may be even better for a number of reasons. Consider a prop or even jet-driven fixed-wing UCAV like the Predator UAV armed with Hellfire ATGMs except it would have as an option the ability to have the on-scene observation and guile of a human pilot, an "Unmanned/Manned Combat Air Vehicle" (U/MCAV).

The dirty secret of why helicopters are not in every American's garage along with the family ground car is that after a certain amount of hours EVERY HELICOPTER'S ENGINES, TRANSMISSIONS AND ROTOR SYSTEM HAS TO BE TAKEN APART AND PUT BACK TOGETHER OR ELSE ONE DAY YOU WILL BE FLYING AND IT WILL FALL APART AND KILL YOU. The helicopter must have organized depot level maintenance and even small size cannot prevent this. Robinson Helicopter masks this by building into purchase agreements that after the set number of hours, your R-22 will be turned back to them and rebuilt. For helicopters to fly they have to be constantly rebuilt. This is the dirty secret of the helicopter. Only 30% of a third world country's helicopters are in flying condition at any given time! While the U.S. Army has deep pockets there are not bottomless.

If on the other hand, we used an automobile piston engine to propel a fixed-wing attack U/MCAV we could fly them for years at a time with operator PMCS without having to constantly rebuild them, saving millions of dollars. We would gain twice the forward air speed (150-200 mph) possible high-altitude flight profiles but would lose hovering and V/TOL. But I dare say that extreme SHORT take-off and landing (ESTOL) from a dirt strip (500 feet or less) that could be cleared out by a M113A3 Gavin with a dozer blade is "good enough" for Army Air Cavalry operations because the fuel and armaments will need to come by wheeled trucks and this means some kind of roads, and roads can = airstrips for ESTOL aircraft. Another way to view this is that the U/MCAV would be a smaller, lighter version of what the OV-1 "Mohawk" CAS/recon aircraft was, flying out of O-1 "Bird Dog" artillery spotter plane short fields. Another way of looking at this is if the USAF O-2 and OV-10 Forward Air Controllers (FACs) had modern lightweight armaments--they could be attack aircraft in themselves in addition to directing fires from others. Since the retirement of FAC aircraft in the U.S. military, U.S. ground forces have not had good CAS as they once had, and the UAV has failed to live up to expectations and be as good as---let alone better---than human eyes with binoculars and sensors looking for targets actively and directly from aircraft. If done right, U/MCAVs could carry multiple rocket pods to create a modern ARA capability that we have not had since Vietnam. Laser-guided 2.75 inch rockets will give us precision kill capability of exactly what Army troops are laser-target designating, far safer for troops in close contact with the enemy than GPS/INS JDAMS without terminal guidance at a fraction of the cost of expensive Hellfire missiles. The 1992 B-movie, "Iron Eagle III", while not a great movie, has some great ideas in it--at the end of the film, they show ground troops laser marking enemy targets for prop-driven attack aircraft to fire laser-guided rockets and hit these targets even though friendly civilians were nearby! Pretty amazing for a film in 1992 realizing CAS requires slower flying aircraft and to anticipate laser-guided rockets!

In recent Afghanistan combat, U.S. Army ground troops pinned down by enemy fire by their downed helicopter had to wait over an hour for a CAS mission aircraft on strip alert at a faraway fixed-air base, and once it got there, its pilots were untrained in using their guns for strafing runs on the enemy that could be controlled by ground troops to avoid fratricide. Furthermore, fixed airbases with hard runways are easily targeted by enemy asymmetric forces as several recent RAND studies have documented. U/MCAVs can solve this vulnerability to enemy attack by placing CAS aircraft and pilots, support crews in the midst of Army ground maneuver units that are automatically self-defensively strong while shortening the response times to ground unit requests for air firepower to ZERO because U/MCAVs would be continuously overhead.

Phil West of England has an excellent web page describing U/MCAV options where countermeasures to enemy Air Defense Artillery weapons are fitted to affordable STOL CAS aircraft:

The Buzzard CAS aircraft

Brilliant writer and artist, Robert Johnson of Chandelle magazine documents how Cessna-type aircraft were used successfully as armed attack aircraft as well as the twin-engined Dornier Do27--which is very much like an UV-18 Twin Otter!:

COIN: The Portuguese in Africa, 1959-1975, Part II in a series

"In desperation, the Portuguese turned to the only available STOL type that offered any improvement in payload over the Austers, the Dornier Do-27. The Dornier was essentially a light aircraft. It was powered by a 270-hp Lycoming. Yet, with 200 hp less than the Broussard, it lifted an equivalent payload, 6-8 passengers and crew. It was also rugged, versatile, and, with the simple, horizontally opposed Lycoming engine, economical to operate. After extensive tests, Portugal ordered 16 Do-27Ks, essentially the Luftwaffe's Do27A-4 with a strengthened, wide-track undercarriage, extra fuel tanks, and underwing hard points. These hard points allowed the aircraft to serve in a FAC (Forward Air Control) role with smoke-marker rockets or in the light close-support role with an 18-round pod of 37-mm MATRA SNEB rockets under each wing (interestingly, this rocket was also adapted for use in the standard, infantry bazooka of the Portuguese army). All aircraft were painted in standard Portuguese colors: bare-metal wings and grey fuselage with a white top and a blue cheat line. A second batch of 24 Do-27K-2s was received in 1962, all in overall aluminum finish. Finally, from 1963 on, as the German army and air force began to retire the Do-27, the German government passed many of the aircraft on to Portugal. In all, 106 Do-27A-1, A-3s, A-4s, and B-1s were taken on charge. All retained their German finish, generally NATO-standard Green and grey camouflage, sometimes with bright, day-glo orange cowls or wing tips.

The Dorniers proved popular and highly successful in use, though losses were comparatively heavy. Though vulnerable to ground fire, the rocket-armed Do-27Ks were useful close-support aircraft. But they were in increasingly short supply (11 were lost in action). Several attempts were thus made to arm the German-surplus aircraft, all of which lacked the wing hardpoints that made rocket armament possible. A number of Do-27A-1 and A-4 aircraft were fitted with fuselage racks for two 50-kg bombs and used in action, but the modification does not appear to have been successful enough for general adoption. A K-1 was given an experimental door mounting for a 1200 round-per-minute MG42 machine gun and successfully tested using a circling, gunship-style flight path. Though this would have been the easiest way of arming the Do-27As, it was not accepted for service use. In any case, the Do-27s days as a viable combat aircraft were clearly numbered by the late '60s. Light aircraft could not survive in the face of the increasingly common 12.7-mm machine gun fire."

In fact, he describes how a Cessna Super SkyMaster type aircraft like Phil West's "Buzzard" was already used in combat as the Rhodesian "Lynx":


A non-descript airplane for non-descript wars: the Reims Aviation FTB-337 Milirole:

"As a twin-engined aircraft with well-separated engines, 450 hp, and no awkward engine-out asymmetry to deal with, the FTB-337 was well-suited to facing small-arms fire, particularly if the O-2's fire-resistant fuel tanks and armored seats were included. Its designed load of six passengers and luggage could easily be traded for an equivalent weight of weapons, once reinforced strong points were built in to the wing and suitable racks supplied...

When it reached Rhodesia, the Milirole became the Lynx. Rhodesian workshops armed the aircraft with underwing bomb racks and .303-in Browning machine guns salved from the aircraft the Lynx was to replace, the now elderly Hunting Provost. The guns were fitted into crudely streamlined pods and mounted on pylons over the cabin, where, in First World-War fashion, they could fire over the propeller. Ammunition was fed to the guns from boxes in the cabin. However, by the time the Lynxes were ready, the counterinsurgency/ground-attack mission could no longer be adequately filled by a light aircraft of the armed Provost/Milirole type. African resistance was more sophisticated than it had been: guerilla formations were larger, their antiaircraft defenses were heavier and better organized, and Rhodesian ground forces needed much heavier air support than the Lynx could manage. As a result, Lynxes confined themselves largely to forward air control, marking targets for Hunters and Canberras, and to flare dropping during night attacks on isolated farms and outposts. Typical weapons loads thus included pods of 37-mm MATRA rockets and small flares carried on locally developed multiple-ejector racks. A sizable number of the aircraft survived to see service in the African-controlled Zimbabwean air force."

See also Rhodesian Fire Forces under World Airborne Operations for operations where the Lynx was used.

In the Airpower Journal - Spring 1991 edition, "The Role of TACTICAL AIR POWER IN LOW-INTENSITY CONFLICT", Captain Vance C. Bateman, USAF outlines how affordable fixed-wing CAS aircraft could and should be a part of the USAF force structure and proposes several aircraft to include the Piper PA-48 Enforcer (photos here), the Sadler Piranha, A-22 and an armed crop duster. The Piranha uses a 30mm linked-feed version of the M230 autocannon used on the AH-64A Apache, AH-64 DAP and AH-6 Little Bird helicopters. I like how the Piranha can be TOWED by ground vehicle trucks until its time to be flown.

Another good article, "Battlefield Air Support: A Retrospective Assessment" in the 1990 Airpower Journal by Dr. Richard P. Hallion makes a compelling case for a continuous overhead presence of strike aircraft over ground forces except he is full of politically correct fighter-bomber jock USAF balogney on point #8 when he says current fuel-hungry, unarmored flying-too-fast-to-see-targets fighter-bombers are better than specially-designed, slower moving, armored attack aircraft for this purpose.

Got Close Air Support? The AX Debacle begats the A-10 but still no observation/attack aircraft in the end

The USAF at Vietnam's end realized it didn't have a heavily armored survivable P-47 style attack plane to gun down the Soviet tank hordes in a WWIII Europe scenario. Turboprop P-51 Mustangs like the Piper PA-48 Enforcer were rejected out of hand by the snobby USAF that only wanted jets. Another prop plane that was rejected was a version of the proven Mohawk depicted above that looked very much like an Argentine Pucara. Again, had the marines been less snobby and co-operated with the Army we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.


The Northrop A-9 lost to the Fairchild A-10 to become the Warthog but the USAF refused to field two-seat versions for a back-seat enlisted observer to be an Airborne Forward Air Controller (AFAC) so there today is still no aeroscouting taking place to find the enemy and overworked A-10 pilots flying low to the ground get target fixation and dive into the ground, killing themselves and destroying the aircraft the USAF fighter-jock egomaniacs hate. Over the years many aerospace engineers and military reformers have proposed low-cost P-47/Stuka/Sturmovik type "clean sheet" designs to regain lost maneuver air support capabilities but so far the fighter pilot and rotor head ego clubs of the U.S. military have not wanted them. Hence the rise of unmanned air vehicles to work around these narcissists but alas they do not work, and will never work as well as a pilot and observer on the scene to investigate where enemies are hiding using C3D2.

ATLAS: (Anti Tank Light Attack System) Design

Low IR and Visual Signatures, Gun: 25mm GAU-12/U Gatling, Redundant Controls, Tough, Prototype Flow in 1989; Privately Financed

GE Unducted Fan Engine and GAU-13 (4 barrel 30mm or 25mm) Gun Rate of Turn>25 deg/sec; Low SFC (long loiter), Low IR Signature, Low Vulnerability

Burt Rutan Created the ARES "Mudfighter" turbofan MAS aircraft: then no one in the U.S. military bought it (yet)

Superb artwork of ARES mudfighters in-the-attack by Army NCO John Richards!


If that were not enough innovation! Rutan also created a prop-driven, MANNED COIN/CAS aircraft--a REAL "Predator"

BAE's "Battle Field Air Interdiction" (BAI) Fighter


Aeromacchi mini-A10 COIN


Aermacchi received in 1972 a request by a foreign country (South Africa, but Portugal was interested too, and probably other non-European customers already operating the MB-326 in CAS role). There were three versions, one single-engine and two with a pair of turbofans. For all, the intended engine was the Rolls Royce/SNECMA M45H (more info here =http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M45H-01. Nothing came (probably development cost were too high for the plausible production run). Don't know weapons, but I assume the gns were a pair of 30 mm DEFAs.

Single-engine Version

Turbofan Version

Last, but certainly not least...the Argentines examined several CAS/COIN aircraft designs before procuring the legendary IA58 Pucara:

LARA 2: THE ULTIMATE KILLER BEE: Joint Maneuver Air Support Fighter from a clean sheet of paper that is MURPHY aka "Gremlin" and BATTLE resistant


From the Designer, Mike Sparks:

I was inspired by the SkyRaider for the LARA2 concept above. Everyone knows how it was a great, sturdy STOL attack plane. A few people realize it would have been faster and safer with no torque if it had contra-rotating props. However, very few people realize that its INSIDES were large enough to carry 14 men. What I want LARA2 to do is be able to carry cargo and a recon team and airdrop them WITHOUT the frontal drag penalty of LARA 1-style twin booms. An USAF FAC pilot writes about another problem: the lack of lift over the wing when an engine conked out on the OV-10:

"The OV-10 for the AF got contra rotating props supposedly for the torque issue. The marines thought that bunk and didn't care if they had which turning engine on which side. In fact they didn't care if they had two rights or two lefts on the plane at the same time. Never heard of one crashing because of that. It was much more sensitive to airspeed and having the prop blowing air over the wing. An engine out radically altered the stall characteristics of that wing.

I know all about that because once while checking out at Hurlburt I pushed it past the limit. I was doing a practice engine out approach - left engine pulled back to zero thrust, left turn to a 500' AGL final from 800' AGL downwind and a strong crosswind from the left. I had lots of airspeed but as I pulled it around I felt through the stick the beginnings of a "nibble" and knew that I was going around because I couldn't make the turn to get aligned with the runway. Since I had lots of airspeed a single engine go around was no problem except the plane had a different idea. As I was relaxing the back pressure on the stick the wing quit flying and the plane snapped upside down. As the saying in the bar goes - 'There I was Upside Down in the traffic pattern.' I knew where we were and that a pull through was totally out of the question so I have the presence of mind to end the practice, roll it around using ailerons and rudders and push up the power on the left engine. We broke out of the pattern on a 45 degree angle and came around for another try. Made that a full stop so we could change our underwear and get a beer.

The lesson - an OV-10 flies well but stalls with little to no warning. When in trouble with one out lots of air speed and gentle handling are required. That characteristic killed most of the people who died in the plane."

It [LARA2] has a tail drogue chute to pull out of spins and to slow down the plane on landing if a short run is required or if the brakes fail. I also don't want two engines on each wing creating the fatal asymmetric thrust situations that has killed so many military and civilian pilots. We need a second engine in the tail as back-up and as power boost for 500 mph speeds in combat. I'm not content with in-line twin engine thrust to eliminate take-off and landing crashes, though this advantage will be huge and solve 80% of the problem. If for WHATEVER the reason, the plane does not have power or has high explosive ordnance stuck under its wings and can't belly land, then the crew can deploy a ballistic recovery parachute and float to the ground in the aircraft or eject individually and have the LARA2 float to the ground. If the plane can belly in or even with a co-pilot observer to remind the pilot, he somehow forgets to lower the gear, it can on land on all 3 of its wheels that protrude a bit to enable an undamaged rolling landing. If the LARA2 lacks altitude or the water is dangerously cold, it has a ditching flap on the front to belly land on the open ocean without nosing over. LARA2 should be able to float indefinitely if undamaged and if damaged float long enough for everyone inside to get out into full-sized life rafts with full water survival gear. My goal for the LARA2 is to be the most murphy and combat resistant, durable, safe and tough aircraft, ever, PERIOD.


Army: ground-mobile ESTOL observation/attack MAS plane embedded in every brigade during offensive movements; self-contained in fortified against HE attacks and C3D2 camouflaged BATTLEBOXes at FOBs in the defense

Navy: small surface ship float observation/ASW/AAW/LA-MAS seaplane, or small aircraft carrier CTOL/STOBAR observation/ASW/AAW/LA-MAS or modern LTA blimp/dirigible

Air Force: ability to hook and unhook in flight from a special cargo/tanker 747 acting as an "airborne aircraft carrier" or modern LTA blimp/dirigible


1. Entire aircraft clear to blend in with sky; skin would be see-through

See-Through Aircraft

Opaque = Bad

See-Through = Good

Here's a VMO-6 Bell 47 in OD Green in white snow-covered Korea, first one has been shot down, the second one is at its base

How the VMO-6 Bell 47 would have looked if painted white to blend in with snow background

LARA 2 would be covered like Piasecki "banana" HRP helicopter above but covering would be see-through; what cannot be see-through like the frame, pilots (flight suits/helmets) and engines etc. would be in LIGHT GRAY to minimize visual appearance as much as possible, like the Bell 47 framework above.


2. Quiet: cannot be detected by enemy on ground as low as 100 feet AGL

Lockheed Q-Star in Vietnam

5-bladed prop on WW2 Grasshopper observation plane: 66 decibels

What is a decibel?

Decibel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

dB (SPL) Source (with distance)

194 Theoretical limit for a sound wave at 1 atmosphere environmental pressure; pressure waves with a greater intensity behave as shock waves.

180 Krakatoa volcano explosion at 1 mile in air [1]

160 M1 Garand (7.62mm x 82mm cartridge) being fired at 1 meter (3 ft)

150 Jet engine at 30 m (100 ft)

140 Low Caliber Rifle being fired at 1m (3 ft); the engine of a Formula One car at 1 meter (3 ft)

130 Threshold of pain; civil defense siren at 100 ft (30 m)

120 Train horn at 1 m (3 ft). Perforation of eardrums.

110 Football stadium during kickoff at 50 yard line; chainsaw at 1 m (3 ft)

100 Jackhammer at 2 m (7 ft); inside discothèque

90 Loud factory, heavy truck at 1 m (3 ft)

80 Vacuum cleaner at 1 m (3 ft), curbside of busy street, PLVI of City

70 Busy traffic at 5 m (16 ft)

60 Office or restaurant inside

50 Quiet restaurant inside

40 Residential area at night

30 Theatre, no talking

20 Whispering

10 Human breathing at 3 m (10 ft)

0 Threshold of human hearing (with healthy ears); sound of a mosquito flying 3 m (10 ft) away

3. Two-seat-rear observer/sensor operator/co-pilot with emergency flight controls like video game flight simulator if pilot is disabled; helps pilot fly plane (reads off checklists for landing, take-offs etc.) and not crash it from target fixation, keeps eye out for enemy fighters

Observer must be able to fly LARA 2

If Observer is color-blind, this is a plus for detecting enemies using camouflage

Seats are Reclined to withstand maximum G forces and still see through bubble canopy

British and French aerospace engineers experimented with prone pilots derived from captured Nazi WW2 research...

A Vietnam combat veteran writes:

"This has killed a lot more CAS fighter pilots than we would like to admit... not only inexperienced ones, but also those with much much experience. (Course in a combat situation, many were blamed on enemy shooting them down. ) It can happen in any aircraft (prop or jet, fast or slow) and on any ground target... real or practice.

I hate to admit it, but it happened to me in 'Nam a couple of times even though I had thousands of hours of flying time. The drive to get the enemy is not necessarily ego driven, but a part of your job and something you have been training to do... especially if your efforts might save many of your country's finest on the ground. I lost friends in several types of fighter aircraft that plowed into the ground in the target area there although the FAC admitted he observed no enemy fire towards the aircraft.

It's probably one of the reasons that with today outrageously expensive fighters, the powers-to-be don't want to risk it happening and thus have them drop bombs from 10,000 feet (instead of less than 200 feet under a cloud ceiling as I did with hard bombs on one case... and with nape, in order to get a good hit, a suggested altitude was 50 feet above the ground... which was damn interesting at night!).


(former A-37 pilot... forerunner to the A-10)

4. Cockpit, engines, fuel tanks armored to 12.7mm heavy machine gun bullets: Sturdy to Take Enemy Fire like an A-4 SkyHawk

5. Counter-rotating (eliminates ground-loop and TO/L crash causing torque) prop-driven by turbine or compression diesel engine that burn JP-8/biodiesel for 3, 000 mile range, 1, 500 mile combat radius; 500 mph top speed; 200-300 mph loiter speed; another option is to be hydrogen powered for free fuel from nuclear carrier splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen

Low Volatility Liquid Fuel = Armor Protection

The pilot above was lucky the bullet wasn't a tracer going into his highly volatile aviation gasoline (AVGAS). However, it illustrates the truth that liquids can stop KE bullets. LARA 2 would use low volatility fuel to get this protective effect even if a tracer hits.

Americans can't counter-rotate props/engines even separately?

Here's some more points to ponder...the British and Germans made their engines "handed" so the prop & engine of the right wing of the Mosquito turned in the opposite direction of the left engine's prop and the Me-110s, Ju-88s etc. Yet we Americans on all our twins other than the P-38 (A-20s, A-26s, B-25s, B-26s, OV-1s, USMC OV-10s) kept both engines turning in the same direction...wouldn't this create a torque problem or a double torque problem? A F-4 Phantom pilot writes on the P-38:

"Mike - my source is William Green's excellent book Famous Fighters of WW2. He states that the XP38 had right and left handed Allisons. The only 'un-handed' 38s ever made were a special lot of Model 322-61 P38s with both engines rotating to th right. Performance was poor as these aircraft did not have superchargers. All 143 dash 61s were used for trainers and experimental testing . Every subsequent P38 (about 8000 in all) had handed engines with outwardly rotating propellers - ie; the top blade on each side was moving outboard. By the way, in the pictures in this book of P38s sitting on the ground you can see the pitch of the blades and thus determine the direction of rotation.

XXXX - who used to watch them take off every morning on his way to the eighth grade and thus got hooked on flying fighters."

Asymmetric Thrust Kills Pilots again and again

Inline Contra-Rotating Props Kills Torque and Asymmetric Thrust--not pilots!

Faster, Safer Aircraft with Contraprops

When you study all the naval aviation crashes from WW2 to 1950, the inevitable conclusion is that 2, 000+ horsepower turning a huge prop in a single-engined retractable landing gear, tail-hook landing carrier plane is simply too much airplane for farm boys in the pre-technological American era to handle. 1, 000 crashes a year is just intolerable. The inescapable conclusion is if you are going to do high-powered single-engined prop planes, you need counter-rotating props...as the shrewd British were the first to surmise.

For some reason American engine makers have to the present not been able to get counter-rotating props to work reliably. WHY have the Russians and Brits been able to do this? The lack of good American counter-rotating prop turbine engines gave the fighter jock Navy the excuses they needed to cancel the fantastic 400 mph R-3Y Tradewinds seaplane, why we couldn't have asked the British for help here?

When the XT40 contraprop/turbine combination failed in the SkyRaider improvement, SkyShark, and the R3Y Tradewinds, the AJ-2 Savage and the POGO, WHY DIDN'T WE GO TO THE BRITISH FOR HELP AND USE THEIR RELIABLE CONTRAPROP/TURBINES USED IN THE HIGHLY RELIABLE, SUCCESSFUL FAIREY GANNET USED FROM 1954 TO 1965?

The Gannet could do it...damn it...

3, 875 shaft horsepower....don't you think one Double Mamba

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armstrong_Siddeley_Double_Mamba] is enough to fly a SkyRaider/SkyShark?

2 for the Savage and 4 for the Tradewinds? When American engines stunk we used British Merlins to make the P-51 Mustang the great success it was....Oh, I forgot...this was a decision made by the U.S. Army Air Corps...and they wanted the P-51 to succeed...

What's the U.S. Navy's excuse for not turning to the British for contraprop turbine help?

They have none. They wanted to kill the SkyRaider and all seaplanes ASAP.

P.S. notice the observation by the British that their AEW capabilities went to shit when they no longer had fixed-wing Gannets and now have to rely on short-range BS helicopters.



The Fairey Gannet is a carrier-borne Anti-submarine warfare and Airborne Early Warning aircraft of the immediate post Second World War-era developed for the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. It has a conventional monoplane mid-wing and tricycle undercarriage. The pilot sits over the gas turbine engine atop the fuselage and behind the double, co-axial, contra-rotating propellers; the one (or two) crew sit in additional cockpit stations behind the pilot. The second crew member sat in a separate fuselage "bubble" facing the tail.

The Gannet's wings fold in two places to form a distinctive "Z" shape on each side. The first fold is at about 1/3 of the wing length where the inboard anhedral (down-sweep) changes to the outboard dihedral (up-sweep) of the wing . The second wing fold is at about 2/3 of the wing length.

Design and development

The Gannet was built in response to the 1945 Admiralty requirement GR.17/45, for which prototypes by Fairey ("Type Q") and Blackburn B-54 / B-88 ("YB 1") were built. The prototype first flew on 19 September, 1949 and made the first deck landing by a turboprop aircraft, on HMS Illustrious on 19 June 1950, by pilot Lieutenant Commander G. Callingham.


After considering and discounting the [liquid-cooled, piston engine] Rolls-Royce Merlin (actually, twin Merlins) due to size, the Fairey decided to install an engine plant based on the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba. The Double Mamba (also commonly called the "Twin Mamba") was selected, driving two counter-rotating propellors through a common gearbox.

The ASMD 1 engines (2,950 hp) were used in the AS 1, ASMD 3 engines (3,145 hp) in the AS 4, and ASMD 4 (3,875 hp) in the AEW 3 variant.

The Double Mamba engine could be cruised with one of the engines stopped, to conserve fuel and extend endurance. It has been said by pilots that, while this was possible, it was inadvisable at low altitude - in case the operating engine stopped for some reason. This happened frequently enough to be a "known fault," and created considerable disquiet for the crew while that or the other engine was restarted.



AEW.3 XL502; Garry Lakin

The Gannet was very much an unsung hero; it was vital to the Navy's anti-submarine defence for several years before helicopters took over this role, but it was in the airborne early warning (AEW) role that it ended its career. The lack of any AEW capability was to prove near-disastrous only a few years after the last AEW Gannet was retired. To this day the Royal Navy only has limited AEW capability in the shape of Sea King helicopters equipped with AEW radar - and these can never hope to even compare with the effectiveness of Fairey's most outstanding product.

Rather than solve the American contraprop engine problem, the U.S. has pretended to not need props while going to all jets except for the lower life form that flies E/C-2 AEW/COD planes where range/payload demand prop planes. Even the turbofan sucks up far more fuel than a prop plane. What I'd like to see for our LARA 2 is a counter-rotating proplane with an emergency turbofan 2d engine that doesn't destroy itself in peacetime crashes due to pilot mistakes....we don't have 10, 000 hard-to-fly-high-torque-hard-to-see Corsairs to throw away. The turbofan engine in back can also assist in emergency if one of the turboprops is turned off and this becomes a problem; can't relight the second engine etc.

Here's a 1949 cost break-down of a 4-engined Mars seaplane (which oh, by the way is still flying as a fire fighter water bomber after all these years)...fuel costs today at $2/gallon would be $2, 200 to fly to Hawaii. Genius Glenn Martin noted that his Mars large seaplanes are the most efficient aircraft on earth--this is probably still true today.

However, if our nuclear ship was splitting seawater into oxygen for high altitude flight and hydrogen for LARA 2 plane flight fuel, fuel costs would drop to ZERO...in addition to elimination all that dangerous fossil fuel being carried in the ship....and needing to be replenished....

6. Emergency turbofan 2nd engine for less-than 300 foot ESTOL take-offs, fly home safely if main engine conks out without asymmetric thrust pilot-killer woes; Fast When it Needs to Be...

500 mph dash speed; 300 mph cruise, can props go 600 mph?

If F-4U Corsairscould take-off in 613 feet, too does this count as STOL?

What kind of STOL performance could we get if a 600 foot STOL prop-plane had a turbofan engine for extra thrust?

On take-offs for safety, BOTH prop and turbofan emergency engines would run for 2-engined reliability.

If both engines conk out, pilot if he lacks altitude/speed to turn back to land without power on runway, ejects.

As he ejects, a ballistic RECOVERY PARACHUTE deploys to try to save the very expensive plane, too. If ordnance won't release under the wings/belly a wheels-up crash landing could explode them--having a recovery parachute capability means saving a life and a plane.

7. Has ability to use JATO for STOs and ZEL for VTs



Paul C. writes:

"I used to watch Bearcats take of at St. Louis Lambert Airfield in 1945 and later. The torque was awesome, and if the pilot could keep the wings level he could do 600 feet or less.

If you put a jet in the tail, you first have to look at the constant horsepower thrust decay with speed to match the propeller thrust with the additional speed you want. Then the prop has to be designed to handle the increase in speed otherwise you are trying to push a 14 foot diameter propeller faster, and that is more drag than the airplane. Yes it can be done, but carefully. Approximate example."

2,500 HP

2200 lb

prop +















































































































If the contraprops in the front of the LARA 2 fail, the turbofan in the tail provides enough thrust to take-off and airspeed/altitude to safely turn back and return to base. In the past turbojet engines have shown to be powerful enough to fly much larger aircraft with props stopped like this C-82 Packet

FR-1 FireBall


FR-2 Dark Shark


Wing span - 41.9 feet 12.80 m
Length 35.9 feet 10.97 m
Height 14 feet 4.27 m
Wings area, 92.94 square feet square meters square 28.33


main- 1 x TE General Electric XT31-GE-2
support 1 x TJE General Electric J31-GE-3


main hp- 1 ? 2,300 hp
support kgs - 1 ? 726 1, 600 pounds thrust


- 7, 914 pounds 3590 kgs empty
- 11, 001 pounds 4990 kgs max


3, 087 pounds max potential


speed both - 500 mph 805 k/h
speed turboprop only - 380 mph 612 k/h
range- 1, 429 mile 2301 km
rate climb 5, 429 feet/minute 1674 m/m
ceiling in 39, 107 feet 11, 920 m
crew - 1


4 x 12.7-mm .50 caliber heavy machine-guns Browning MG 53
2 x 1, 000 pound 454-kg or
4 x 500 pound 227-kg bombs or
4 x 76-mm UR.



1 x 2300 shp General Electric XT31-GE-1 (TG-100) turboprop and 1 x 3750 lb.st. Allison J33-GE-5 turbojet.


12,755 pounds empty
19,500 pounds loaded
24,650 pounds maximum overload

11, 895 max potential


wingspan 50 feet 6 inches
length 44 feet 10 inches
height 14 feet 0 inches
425 square feet wing area.

Performance figures were based on an assumption of a full 2300 hp output from the turboprop:

Maximum speed, 478 mph at sea level, 507 mph at 30,000 feet.

Range 2500 miles at 275 mph at 25,000 feet.
Initial climb rate was 5, 300 feet per minute.
Service ceiling was 35,500 feet.


6 x 0.50-inch machine guns or 6 x 20-mm cannon and 2 x 1, 600-pound bombs.

A-1H Skyraider

General characteristics
* Crew: One
* Length: 38 ft 10 in (11.84 m)
* Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.25 m)
* Height: 15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
* Wing area: 400.31 ft² (37.19 m²)
* Empty weight: 11,970 lb (5,430 kg)
* Loaded weight: 13,925 lb as scout; 18,030 lb as bomber (6,315 kg as scout; 8,180 kg as bomber)
* Max takeoff weight: 25,000 lb (11,340 kg)

13, 030 pounds max potential


* Maximum speed: 320 mph (280 knots, 520 km/h)
* Cruise speed: 295 mph (256 knots, 475 km/h)
* Range: 1,315 miles (1,142 nm, 2,115 km)
* Service ceiling: 28,500 ft (8,660 m)
* Rate of climb: ft/min (m/s)
* Wing loading: 45 lb/ft² (220 kg/m²) *


* Guns: 4× 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
* Other: Up to 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of ordnance on 15 external hardpoints including bombs, torpedoes, mine dispensers, unguided rockets, or gun pods

8. Both pilot/observer with ZERO-ZERO ejection seats; seats have small rocket engine so round parachutes with rear drive slots can steer-glide a short distance say 25 miles from shoot-down point for safer rescue location

9. When crew ejects over friendly territory, recovery parachute deploys to try to save aircraft and $

10. Has tail parachute for spin recovery and STOL runway braking help

Didn't Have Tail Parachute for Spin Recovery

Seaplane saves the ass of the "great pilot" Marion Carl USMC who had to bail-out and lose an expensive airplane

11. JMAS-F has Burnelli fuselage for lift so plane takes-off and lands at less than 60 mph and is crash resistant

12. Has tail-dragger landing gear that is permanently fixed so there can't be any crashes due to "I-forgot-to-lower-the-gear" crap with emergency jettison if belly landing is desired or if retractable landing gear when gear is up wheels protrude enough to enable smooth belly landing like C-47 and A-10 has; very fat solid foam tires to operate from grassy fields/mud/dirt

13. Has boat hull fuselage shape and/or ditching flap so can be ditched into the water, not nose over but instead float or has pop-out floats/skis or air cushion bag powered by emergency turbofan bypass air for crash landings


Fuselage: Can Safely Land in Water

Fuel tank ski-floats

14. Has air bags in cockpit for crash landing cushioning since shoulder/seat belts can cause internal injuries

15. Wings fold Grumman-style so JMAS-F "J-Massive" can fit inside ISO shipping container for ground, sea, air transportability and act as barracks/hanger that can be fortified/buried/camouflaged to evade enemy detection and HE attacks--aka fighter-in-a-box

Boeing XL-15 Observation plane that lost to Cessna O-1 Bird Dog could come apart to be transported on a truck!

16. Has tail hook for CTOL and STOBAR aircraft carrier operations to Land on Aircraft Carriers

17. Can be fitted with floats to act as seaplane from smaller surface ships

18. IFSS helmet sighting system for both pilot/observer/sensor to aim and fire .50 caliber GAU-19D (12.7mm) heavy machine gun belly turret; spent casings kept for reload/re-use

19. Underwing hardpoints for gunpods, rockets, Hellfire missiles to include AMRAAMs and longer-ranged AAMs

Powerful Cannon Armament recovers spent casings to prevent them from falling on ground troops or into the engine of nearby aircraft; economical reloading possible

20. Has FLIR/image intensifier ball for night/adverse weather flying

21. Has AD-1 style obvious-as-can-be flight controls

U.S. Naval Aviation News, 1 December 1946 article




This seems like a very good idea in light of all the deaths from landing gear and flap mistakes.

22. Cost less than $2M per aircraft; operating costs like a turboprop crop duster

23. Easy-to-maintain as an Army M113 Gavin track; uses same low-volatility fuels, ammo except for AMRAAMs etc.

24. Easy-to-fly: enlisted pilots and observers or at least enlisted GFACs do tours as back-seat AFACs; dual controls enable experienced pilot to watch new pilots as they gain skills instead of flying LARA2 cold turkey in a single seat aircraft

25. Ability to Drop Paratroops/Haul Small Cargoes

Note the fuselage side door on the SkyRaider...

The Pilatus PC-6 TurboPorter AKA AU-23 can drop cargo and/or paras from its side door...

The OV-10 LARA can drop using its center boom fuselage if end clamshell is removed...

26. Has On Board Oxygen Generation Systems (OBOGS) to fly above bad weather and get maximum cruise efficiency; OBOGS are coming into service.

They do away with LOX storage, servicing, and the hazards thereof. It isn't a big package, and can be retrofitted, as is being done on the F-16 fleet. Manufacturer link:


27. Tip fuel tanks for keeping even low volatility fuel away from people inside, extra range, wing strengthening; may have water landing floats built-in

LARA 2 would have two pressure feed tip fuel tanks that would automatically level out as fuel is used with nitrogen pushing the fuel out to the center engine reservoir to also inert the tanks from explosions if hit by exploding HE AAA/SAMs etc. Low volatility fuel would act as extra armor protection from KE bullets in both central reservoir and tip tanks. If tip tanks are not used, Sidewinder AAMs can be fitted (looks cool, also!).

28. Umbilical cord to talk to ground control when preparing to take-off

The once popular TV show, "Who wants to be a millionaire?" has an option for the contestant to call a "lifeline". That person then has 30 seconds to give the answer to the question. I have often wondered why not have your computer on and google up to type in the question and get a quick answer if you are called by someone?

Applying this "lifeline" principle to our single seat fighter-bomber pilots, why not have a computer screen up with a "google" of that specific aircraft's checklist and have the pilot react to it by a HIGHLY SKILLED TOWER GROUND BACK-UP PILOT (GBUP) to insure at the very least the pilot starts off on the right foot? Don't get me wrong, I HATE "mother may I?" and want a back-seater co-pilot to do this but its going to be awhile 'til we can get it. Studying all these accident reports it becomes clear to me that having a mental lifeline, a sort of "Granpaw Pettibone" right there at the tower would be a very good thing. Pilots also get into in-flight emergencies, too...having the TOWER GROUND BACK-UP PILOT on the scene would be a great help to insure under stress the pilot at least considers the best thing to do. In the NFL, quarterbacks have radios to receive plays called in by the coach...there should be no stigma to this....

If you are rightfully worried about EMCON, have this communication take place by LAND LINE and after the pilot is OKed to taxi and take-off, disconnect the umbilical....

Having the BEST pilots take turns manning a shift as GBUP would spread the "Chuck Yeager" wealth of experience around and insure its there when its most needed instead of attending a memorial service later.

Legendary TacAir expert, Chuck Myers comments on idea #28:

"Not a bad idea."


An A-37 combat pilot writes:


What you described here is almost what we did (and I think they still do) in the Air Training Command (and maybe some TAC gunnery schools). When training was in progress, normally two instructor pilots (IPs) sat in a little shack (mobile control) by the runway with radios to control the student traffic. One watched the arriving traffic and the other departing traffic. The one watching incoming planes and those waiting takeoff controlled the traffic (which could be fun as the time I had 24 jets in the traffic pattern with clouds too low to have any break-outs). During an emergency, the controller read off the emergency procedures, even if there was an IP on board the student aircraft with the problem. Most IPs welcomed this as under the stress, they didn't want to forget anything and later be charged with 'pilot error' if something went wrong.

With today's very expensive and very complicated aircraft, I think you have a great idea... and it would be a hellva lot cheaper than losing one of the birds because of a mental-block...


PS. It might also help prevent an incident I saw when getting ready to depart an airport in Italy in about 1960. A Navy or Marine F-8 taxied past me as I was starting my bird. He took off and I started taxiing out only to be told to hold by the tower... they had an emergency aircraft to recover. Seems the F-8 pilot forgot to unfold his wings before he took off. Technically, I don't think the thing was even suppose to be able to fly in that condition, but he was able to bring it back to a safe landing.

A current USAF crew chief writes:

"Reading checklists to tower is a waste because it is far away and cannot VERIFY checklist compliance. It's a half-solution that would also drown the radio net with chatter.

What we've always done successfully is have the aircrew run through the flight controls and do other checklist procedures with the crew chief (and weapons troops during arming) on the comm cord. Works fine, no sweat, low error rate, and the crew chief can see and touch the aircraft while the tower does not have a detailed view.

After taxi, further checks are done (usually with crew chief plugged in, sometimes with hand signals) at end-of-runway before and after flight, and on recovery at the parking spot.

Current IFEs [in-flight emergencies] are handled by checklist procedure, including squawking an IFE to the tower. If the pilot has any questions they have Tower, Operations, etc on the net and listening.

The "lifeline" has been built in for decades. You can even call company tech reps if it's something really strange.

If the "stick actuator" has a question, the crew chief is on the comm cord and can fetch info via the expediter (maintainer who drives launch crew truck). They call Ops if it's a pilot thing, or dispatch a specialist to advise on how to sort out the problem if indeed there is one. Standard flightline business since forever ago. It's called a comm-out launch.

Lastly, when in doubt, take the spare! That's why we have them. Ground troubleshooting is better than an airborne "oh shit!" moment.

. Bizarre IFEs happen, but they aren't all that common. They are well-chronicled in flight safety magazines and other pubs. A separate GBUP would not pay off, when you have experienced pilots doing other jobs and on the radio net.

The 1950s are over, because of training more than anything. Want even more safety? Do what we do now plus: add more training hours, cut the "extra duty" paper-pushing, and have a flying career track for those who want that."

A F-4 Phantom combat pilot writes:

"FWIW we always had a pilot out manning the radio on the mobile control/runway supervisory unit who checked the birds at lineup for proper config and watched every takeoff and landing and stood by with the flight manual when trouble reared its head. Later the brass devised the Supervisor of Flying, who in my mind was just another buffer between said brass and the accident. If you know your s--t you don't need no steenking checklist. OTH if you don't know your s--t better not fly the bird. I know to a lot of people this is heresy - but it works. What you don't know in aviation won't hurt you - it'll kill you."

LARA 3 Belly Lander for Expeditionary Dispersed Operations (EDOs)

What I have learned is that forced landings on rough fields means NOT LOWERING YOUR WHEEL LANDING GEAR so you belly land with the largest smooth surface possible.

This is EXACTLY the same principle used in TRACKS in that the larger the surface area in contact, the lower the ground pressure to negotiate over uneven terrain. Wheels on aircraft are just as bad on aircraft as they are on ground vehicles. What is a runway?


What is a road?

A man-made strip of open terrain.

We know open terrain is a BAD place to be in in war, if you have to be there you better be in a heavily armored tank---you don't want to be there in a thin tube full of fuel and HE ordnance!!

Fasten your seatbelts and shoulder straps!

Since this works in belly landings in emergencies why not DO IT ALL THE TIME?

Why not make landing on the belly the NORM and design a plane with small rollers/track belts that maximizes its full surface area to enable very rough terrain and grassy field landings?

The more aircraft in contact with the ground, the more friction and braking = shorter landing roll.

Here's what I'm thinking.

Its very hard to hide a hard surface a rubber tire wheel landing gear aircraft needs from the air. Even in a grassy field, fat tire landing aircraft leave tracks, too. If however, we have a LARA 3 belly lander it could land on grass or dirt and then a vehicle dragging a roller with spikes or a piece of fence could reinvigorate the grass or dirt to hide any tracks. The belly landing might not leave any tracks in dirt and on grass only need the blades to be fluffed up.

This LARA 3 would have its counter-rotating props and engine unit at the tail so the blades are not in the way of belly landings.

After coming to a stop, the plane would be lifted at a hook point by a tracked vehicles's crane and have its landing gear extended and locked for maintenance and later on missions taking off from a ground vehicle mounted catapult or ZEL launch rail or using rolling tire landing gear and the terrain as runway.

We all know about catapults to launch SC-1/2 SeaHawk seaplane fighters from ships....we know about "extreme JATO" ZEL launch rockets.....why not place a ship's catapult on a ground vehicle so we can avoid having to need hard surface runways which are hard to camouflage and invite enemy attacks?

LARA 3 Belly Lander at Sea: Just like the Russian Beriev Be-103!


One of the joys of reading these past issues of U.S. Naval Aviation News is that this Pentagon magazine will accidentally blurt out some snide remarks about what the British are doing and what we are copying from them.

The artist's drawing of the USS Forrestal supercarrier shows up in 1952 with ANGLED DECKS and the magazine doesn't bother mentioning anything about them (YET). Another gem I found is a caption for a F-9F Panther pic showing it belly landing on a carrier wooden deck and not being damaged. The caption mocks the British idea of landing WHEELS UP ALL THE TIME ON CARRIERS CUSHIONED BY RUBBER MATS.

When you think about it, it makes sense. No more worrying about catching the wire crap, just belly in and get MAXIMUM SURFACE AREA IN CONTACT WITH THE DECK and sliding to a stop. Or sliding and then catching the wire. It seems prudent to me that if we DESIGNED naval aircraft to belly in so they roll with rollers or partially extending out wheels (like A-10s) and that they can slide on a wooden deck (rubber burns) without damage that this might be a better way to land on a carrier (max friction) than rolling on wheels (least amount of friction). After coming to a stop, the plane would be lifted at a hook point by a crane and have its landing gear extended and locked for maintenance and later on missions shot from the catapult using rolling tire landing gear.

Clean Sheet Killer Bee Designs Summary & Conclusion

The expressed need for a COntinued Overhead Presence (COOP) to support future light forces destined to execute three dimensional maneuver warfare concepts, compels the DoD to explore possibilities to include fielding a dedicated aircraft such as an ASP (agile-survivable-potent) or LARA 2. In general terms, an ASP/LARA 2/3 might be described as a small, very agile and survivable cross between a Bronco and a Warthog (an "OAX") that could fly either from a maneuver element dirt strip forward arming and refueling point (FAARP) to avoid fixed-site air base targeting or an aircraft carrier without using catapults or arresting gear (as did the Bronco). However, CPT Bateman downplays the enemy ADA threat by saying these aircraft would not be used if these threats are present. This is naive to think we can pick and chose where and when we will fight, so we disagree and insist that countermeasures are included on the U/MCAV and that it be viewed as a full-spectrum of war CAS asset in conjunction with U.S. Army CAVALRY ground maneuver. These aircraft should belong to the Army not the AF.

It will be significantly easier to train enlisted pilots to fly fixed-wing U/MCAVs as years of civilian flight training using Cessna 150-type aircraft proves. Flying a helicopter with each hand on a control lever is more difficult and requires more hand/eye coordination than a fixed-wing aircraft. In fact, Soldiers who earn their private pilot's license would be recognized and encouraged to transition to the U/MCAV and earn their U.S. Army flight wings.

Basic Flight Details for the SAAB Supporter CAS Aircraft



An USAF Crew Chief writes about the OV-10:

"The sponson guns weren't a great idea (when I was at Sembach in the early 1980s the guns weren't even installed), but the sponson layout was a light, handy way to support stores like rocket pods.

The radios were heavy, but the combination was useful. ARC-164 was the only 'modern' radio on the thing, but the 618T HF, dual FM-622s, and Wilcox VHF gave plenty of commo options. The ADF was used to home in on AFN radio stations. :)

Modern radios would slash the weight and space requirements while allowing commo with ground and air units. The only thing I'd add is a hands-free cell phone interface to the headset cord so crew could liase with locals who didn't have correct radios. I know cell wouldn't be secure, but in certain rapid response situations it could be useful. (When I was Comm/Nav we used to make Walkman adapters so the "stick actuators" could enjoy music on long flights. We used standard male and female cord ends so the adapter could be plugged between acft and pilot without altering any acft wiring.)"

Legendary Defense writer, Jack Hammond writes:

"Besides the smaller FD-25, John Thorp also was developing a civilian ag aircraft the FU-24 which was quite larger. It used a tri gear instead of tail dragger and had an enormous payload for its size -- 3500 lbs. The first one flew in 1954 and ten were made and then a company in New Zealand bought the rights to the FU-24 and produced almost 190 that were used mainly in Asia. It also produced the FU-24 in multi-task roles. Later it produced a turbo version of the FU-24 called the CRESCO which had almost double the payload. In the 1980s it also offered a dirt cheap COIN and photography military aircraft based on the CRESCO. As far as I know it had no takers.

Today that aircraft would be interesting in Iraq and Afghanistan replacing the super expensive jet fighter-bombers that have to patrol around waiting for missions with their laser and GPS bombs. It could also patrol with HELLFIRE missiles replacing attack helicopters with a turret containing a zoom LLTV and an FLIR/laser designator turret.

Below is the photos and drawings I got of the military version of the CRESCO. While one drawing shows the CRESCO fitted with the Oerlikon 80mm sliding fin (ie not folding fin rockets) I doubt the over the wing attachment would work and in fact would cause problems on firing with the exhaust effecting the top lift part of the wing.

* B/W photo of CRESCO from company brochure. Very poor quality. Turbo CRESCO

* Photo of early piston engine FU24 and CRESCO in flight FU24 and CRESCO in flight

* FU24 piston engine in flight to give idea of aircraft FU24 in flight

* Drawing of photo version of CRESCO. Imagine this version with a zoom LLTV/FLIR-LASER turret and HELLFIRES to patrol over roads and towns

* This drawing shows the COIN version of the CRESCO with its armor and gun and rocket pods. With the shoulder fired SAM threat it would also need IR jammers and flares like helicopters

* Bomb version of CRESCO. While it can carry two 550lb bombs it can carry better six 250 lb bombs. And there has even been a call for smaller bombs than the 1000 and 2000 lb used in Iraq and Afghanistan. One idea would be to have them fitted with the cheap IR guidance package that Israel has developed and used by the Italians in Kosovo CRESCO bomb version

* CRESCO with 80mm Oerlikon rockets. This sliding fin rocket is still popular because unlike folding fin rockets it is extremely accurate and fitting them to aircraft is relative cheap CRESCO with Oerlikon 80mm rockets"

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