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Behold The Corsair II- The Undisputed Rodney Dangerfield of Vietnam-Era Attack Jets

Vought’s “SLUF” Served For 49 Years But Never Seemed to Get The Respect It Deserved

The 1975 Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV)-produced promotional film “The A-7 Attack Fighter” features both the Navy’s A-7E and the Air Force’s A-7D Corsair II tactical jets. The Short Little Ugly F*cker (SLUF) was developed from the Navy’s supersonic F-8 Crusader fighter. A-7s replaced some of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawks and A-1 Skyraiders in Navy Service as well as A-1 Skyraiders and North American F-100 Super Sabres in Air Force Service. Produced in five basic models and several more mission-specific variants, 1,569 Corsair IIs were built by LTV at their plant in Dallas, Texas. The first flight of the prototype YA-7A took place on September 27th 1965. We’ll be doing an in-depth piece about the SLUF in the future, so for now enjoy the film!

The SLUF incorporated the basic high-wing design layout of the company’s F-8 but lacked the variable incidence wing in a shorter and stouter fuselage. It was powered by the same Pratt & Whitney TF-30 turbofan engine as the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark and the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, albeit without the afterburner. The A-7 was equipped with advanced weapons delivery avionics and was the first jet to incorporate the now-standard head-up display (HUD).

VA-72 A-7E in 1991. Image via US Navy

Navy initial operational capability was achieved in early 1967 and A-7As began flying missions from Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club carriers later that same year. The Navy lost a total of 98 Corsair IIs (all models / all causes) in Vietnam. Navy SLUFs participated in every American military operation after Vietnam through Desert Storm. Navy A-7Es retired after Desert Storm in 1991, replaced in most cases by McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18 Hornets. Some mission-dedicated A-7 variants (EA-7Ls) remained in Navy use through 1998.

Official US Navy Photograph

The US Air Force operated A-7Ds and later two-seated A-7Ks, both powered by Allison TF41-A-1 turbofan engines, from 1970 until 1993. In Vietnam Air Force A-7Ds flew 12,930 sorties with only six losses, flying missions through the very end of American involvement in Southeast Asia. Air National Guard (ANG) units based at Des Moines ANG Base in Iowa, Tulsa ANGB in Oklahoma, and Springfield and Rickenbacker ANGBs in Ohio were the last operators of Air Force SLUFs, replaced in many cases by A-10 Warthogs. A-7s were operated by Greece, Portugal, and Thailand in addition to the US Navy and US Air Force. Greece retired the last of their long-serving A-7H models in 2014, ending 49 years of Corsair II service. Thanks to YouTuber Mat Garretson for uploading the film.

Official US Air Force Photograph

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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