TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II was originally designed as a single-seat, mid-weight fighter/bomber for the United States Navy. The prototype A-7A took flight on Sept. 27, 1965, after a short design and development period due to Vought’s experience with the supersonic F-8 Crusader. The A-7 has many features similar to the F-8, but was a new-build design overall with tricycle landing gear, a strong wing with many hardpoints for ordnance and folding wingtip panels. The folding wings and “stinger” tailhook were both hold-overs from the Navy design. The wing met the fuselage high on the spine with low-horizontal tailplanes at the rear with a single, swept vertical tail. The front and rear of the aircraft have a “clipped” appearance and the aircraft was often referred to as the “Short-little ugly fellow” or variations thereof. The denavalized version of the SLUF was operated by the Air Force and Air National Guard.
Tinker was associated with the A-7 Corsair from the aircraft’s early days when on Nov. 8, 1966, the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area took over all logistics management responsibility for what would become the Air Force version, the A-7D, which were first accepted into service in 1968. After initial fielding, the Corsair II was soon flying combat missions over Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. This resulted in the A-7 being sent to the depot maintenance lines and, according to official Tinker history documents, hundreds of aircraft were processed along with F-4s, F-105s and B-52s during that time frame. On Jan. 10, 1972, the first A-7D arrived for modification. By July 1, 1975, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center System Manager assumed logistics program responsibility for A-7D aircraft. In 1976, a major upgrade program provided the aircraft with laser-spot designation capability in the form of the Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment, or PAVE PENNY upgrade.
The A-7 was a capable fighter aircraft, but more tailored to air-to-ground bombing and area defense missions as it had an incredible fuel load and loiter time, even when flown at heavy weights. The jets were capable of air-refueling and used this to extend their missions and ability to deploy. After heavy use in the Vietnam War the A-7 was used by numerous frontline units throughout the U.S. and were slowly passed to the Air National Guard where they were seen as capable and dependable fighters. One particular unit, the 156th Tactical Fighter Group, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, used the A-7’s capabilities to define mission success through the air-defense role surrounding the Caribbean island as well as their Spanish-speaking, American ambassadors on frequent deployment to the Panama Canal Zone and Central/South America. The A-7 was capable of making the deployment directly from Puerto Rico to Panama because of its endurance.
A combat capable, two-seat version of the Corsair II was produced for the Air Force as the A-7K. The aircraft’s second cockpit was possible through the deletion of a fuselage fuel tank and provided a training capability to the six Air National Guard units who primarily operated it. There was one A-7D converted to A-7K configuration followed by 31 new-build aircraft for the ANG.
A-7s served with the ANG until 1993 when they were all phased out by their multi-role replacement, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Other versions of the SLUF served until 2014 when the last was retired from service with the Greek Air Force.