Revert to Prototype

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

When the benefits of a life built upon the achievements of the past are deemed no longer acceptable, to the point they are openly deplored, greater insistence becomes commonplace for counting on the advantages of the uninvented.

Regretting the technology in use is, in the scheme of things, a recent phenomenon, like being able to view the earth from a passenger jet mid-flight, a practice virtually unknown for nearly all human existence and one likely to keep pace for generations to come to judge by those at window seats glued to their screens.

Rarefied experience sits outside the herd. That’s hardly new.

But in post-scarcity environments the real currency, it can be argued, is in problems rather than solutions.

The creep of modern NGOs suggests as much. There’s big business in being at once the arsonist and the firefighter.

It’s a recipe, seemingly embedded in most of our recent policy settings, for calamity. Potholes. Train derailments. Housing crisis. Do you believe in accelerationism? French President Emmanuel Macron subscribes.

Addressing his new cabinet late last year, Macron admitted the current moment is structured by a series of crises, “each more serious than the other” before he declared “we are living the end of what could have seemed an era of abundance”. Ostensibly it was decline or rather its manufacture he was relating, and the market conditions are, for those at the levers, favourable.

It certainly wasn’t the guiding principle of the Danton pre-Dreadnaught battleships.

Despite being obsolete before they even hit the water, the Danton class despite this or rather because of it, were the first French battleships to receive turbines that offered more power in a smaller volume than triple-expansion steam engines at a significant increase in fuel consumption at low speeds.

They were also more notably designed with a wine cellar in the hull to improve ballast. Certainly, beer and rum had been, for centuries prior, stored below in the hold of a ship. The French Navy were determined to make the most of the situation.

The Bretagne-class Super-Dreadnoughts had a similar cellar located within the main armour belt and were even equipped with a barrel hoist.

While the threat of being left behind in a technological arms race is one hell of a motivator for engineers especially when they have militaries and governments breathing down their necks, there is always scope, given the circumstances, to make the most of what you have and don’t.

The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II embodies this idea with a vengeance.

Everything in the single-seat, twin-turbofan, straight-wing, subsonic attack aircraft is designed to make room for the GAU-8 Avenger 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon. This includes the nose landing gear, which is offset to the right of the aircraft so that the firing barrel lines up along the centre of the airframe.

Basically, a flying gun, the A-10 must integrate the recoil forces of its armament, given it can expel 3,900 rounds a minute, which are better concentrated to inhibit changes in aircraft yaw when fired and to keep it on target.

For the purposes of ballast empty casings are retained in the nose. The centre of gravity kept in check by the weight of these empty shells.

Unlike the McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, known as a parasitic fighter, which was supposed to solve another problem to do with long range refuelling by sitting inside a Convair B-36 bomber to detach then re-attach when enemy fighters drew near, the A-10 “Warthog” is engineered to do one thing – provide superior air support – and this it does well.

The new Ford Mustang GT3 repurposes raw materials from the world of fighter jets, particularly titanium components from America’s F-22 Lightning for use on the gearshift paddles and some other interior elements.

Locally it is going to be priced at $470,000. One can’t help but wonder whether it is better suited to being seen and not heard.

Like the XF-85, it’s a parasitic vessel, too. Ingenuity, as we are seeing, can be absorbed, exploited and even in the case of flying, easily familiarised.

Send this to a friend