Testimony of Pilot # 29
‘Dogfighting makes movies. Close air support wins wars,’
Colonel Steve Ladd (USAF, Ret) recently published From F-4 Phantom to A-10 Warthog; Memoirs of a Cold War Fighter Pilot, and has graciously provided RememberedSky with a key excerpt particularly pertinent to RS’s major thread of air-ground or attack missions recently catalogued and highlighted in the post Anthology – RememberedSky Vietnam Airwar ’72-73 Stories.
Note that definitive of US Air Force usage, despite half of Steve’s 4000+ hour career in the A-10 attack aircraft, he refers to himself as a fighter pilot, and indeed in both the F-4 and A-10 aircraft his squadrons were Tactical Fighter Squadrons.
The Air Force and the aviation branch of the U.S. Navy have similar roles and missions but have distinct differences, mostly (but not all) of course driven and centered around the aircraft carrier.
Historically, through WWII navy squadron designation indicated their mission – VB, dive bombers, VT-torpedo bombers, VS, scouting and dive bombers, and VF, fighter or air-air. In the 50s the VB/VS/VT consolidated under the nomenclature “VA” for attack, air-ground missions. This remained until the replacement of both F-4s and A-7s by the F/A-18 Hornet with squadron designation becoming “VFA,” strike fighter squadrons, tasked to do both air-air and air-ground. From the Air Corps/Air Force perspective in the 30s the decision was made to not design, purchase, or designate “A” attack a/c. They did violate their rules with the A-1 Skyraider, A-7D, and the A-10, and thus they had Tactical Air Command fighters and Strategic Air Command bombers (strategic bombing tasking – B-17, B-29, B-52, etc).
And so, considering first the air-ground mission and then differences in the two services, and terminology, Col Ladd’s career experiences are of great interest in regard to the focus of RememberedSky and so…
OBTW, really well written and highly recommended!!!