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Of course, the strip of tarmac this particular A-10 finds itself isn't just any old stretch. It stands on the former site of the Republic Aviation production facility in Farmingdale, New York. On these hallowed grounds, all time greats like the A-10, F-84 Thunderjet, and the iconic P-47 Thunderbolt WW2 fighter rolled off production lines that provided the greater Long Island area with thousands of jobs.
Today, one of the hangars that Republic Aviation used to call home is now home to the American Airpower Museum. Most of the two dozen or so aircraft on display at the museum are in working and flying condition, so check back later for our comprehensive review. But for now, we focus on the A-10 that serves as one of the several gate guards to the facility.
Believe it or not, it's been nearly 50 years since the venerable plane dubbed the Warthog by its pilots and ground crew took to the skies for the first time. The example sitting before us, in this case, rolled out of the very same hangar the museum is nestled in today in the year 1980. The plane served with the United States Air Force from its deployment in the early 80s until around the mid-2000s.
It eventually made its way to an Air Force vehicle reserve located in the Arizona Desert before the New York Office of General Services facilitated a deal with the U.S. Military and the federal government to transport the plane home to Farmingdale. The aircraft arrived at Republic Airport in the summer of 2014, with some of its turbine blades in its twin turbofan jet engines removed. Presumably to prevent particularly ambitious museum-goers from taking the thing up for some mock close-air-support.
Most war-themed video games tend not to contextualize the size of the aircraft featured in the game. For example, the average MiG-25 Foxbat fighter is just as large as a Lancaster World War II bomber. But the A-10 is not one of these planes, meaning it looks about as big in the flesh as many of the games it featured in made it out to be.
Its proportions are not slim like that of a fighter jet, nor is it any strategic bomber. But what you sense most about the Warthog is that it's less of an aircraft and more of a gun with wings. Not the least because they had to move the front landing gear a noticeable percentage away from the center of the fuselage to compensate for the heat the Hog was packing.
As of the late fall of 2021, the jet still sits guard over the facility. Its twin jet engines may be disabled, but all hydraulic systems and many of its electronic components remain operational if the aircraft needs to be towed away from its parking spot for any number of reasons.
Years of brutally hot summers and dreadfully cold winters can see brand new vehicles begin to corrode. But the military-tough superstructure of the A-10 was built to shrug off missile strikes, and small arms fire like it was nothing at all. So no wonder the airframe is still in remarkably great shape. Although the museum noted the plane had a tough time opening its canopy during the last service.
It was a particularly bright and windy fall afternoon the day we visited the little nugget of amazingness. But the matte grey paint the Warthog is famous for sporting reflected almost none of the sun's rays that afternoon. Seeing the old warbird couped up next to a hangar with protective coverings on its cockpit and 30 mm cannon barrel gave the craft a character all its own. As if it begs each museum-goer to remove its coverings and take it back up to the sky again. But for a museum so known for its flying condition exhibits, their Warthog remains ostensibly grounded for the foreseeable future.
If you ask your tour guide politely, you may be lucky enough for a staff member to remove the red fabric covering the iconic GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon. A weapon that struck fear into the hearts and minds of its enemy while simultaneously making for great war-meme material. The gun's signature "BRRRRRRRTTTT" sound when fired isn't famous for no reason, you know. Looking closely at this insane gun shows the intricate riffling inside each barrel, which often had to be refurbished after prolonged use in combat.
If your guide is particularly short, they may even kindly ask you to help put the cover back on. Your guide can also show neat items like the flip-down control panel for the on-ground refueling system hidden in the right-wing root. How tempting it must be to try and find some jet fuel and fill the thing up.
Moving to the rear of the airplane, your guide will eagerly point out some of the Warthog's lesser-known quirks. Like the chaff and flare dispensers hidden deep within the fuselage designed to confuse incoming missiles and make a glorious fireworks show in the process. All in all, there's not much that Air Power Museum tour guides can't show you on this aircraft apart from popping the canopy and having a seat inside.
But of course, there are a plethora of other planes at this facility that you can have a seat inside if you ask beforehand and make a donation to the museum, of course. Check back for more information on the rest of what the museum has in store right here on autoevolution.
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