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Old 08-10-2010, 10:12 PM
minor7flat5 minor7flat5 is offline
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A-6 Intruder vs. A-7 Corsair

My question is simple... What distinguished these two aircraft from each other?

The carrier I served on had both A-6's and A-7's. Looking at the Wikipedia articles shows me that the A-6 had a slightly higher bomb load and a second seat for the BN. But the A-7 had slightly better speed and appears to have been much cheaper.

Nothing really stands out to me and says "You need both of them for a proper war."

Why wouldn't the carrier have had only one or the other?
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  #2  
Old 08-10-2010, 10:53 PM
Fubaya Fubaya is offline
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I love these old planes and you sent me on a wiki browsing spree.

I don't know exactly, but the A-6 was the result of a 1957 contract for an all weather replacement to the A-1 Skyraider.

The A-7 was the result of a 1963 contract for a replacement to the A-4 with emphasis on accurate delivery of weapons.

Could it be coincidence that they both filled the separate roles they were designed for but ended up seeming very similar? Maybe that and a cold war "can't ever have too many planes" mentality.

Maybe, but the A-4 was from a 1952 contract that was supposed to be a replacement to the A-1, same as the 1957 Intruder contract, so now I'm in a "that just don't make sense" loop.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:55 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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The difference is... I don't have an A-6 ejection seat!
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Old 08-10-2010, 11:26 PM
ramel ramel is offline
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I don't know too much about that A-7, but I know the A-6 had DIANE. Digital Intergrated Atack Navigation Equipment. This was a very advanced computer system that allowed the A-6 to attack targets that couldn't be seen due to bad weather or because it was night.

I guess that's why the A-6 had a second crewman. To operate the computer systems.

As far as I've heard, the A-7 never had something like that. But I could be wrong. Like I said, I don't know much about the A-7.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:43 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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You've got it. The A-6 was intended for all weather bombing. Including nuclear.

The A-7 was a day visual tactical bomber. and did not carry nukes.

The range and payload differences were larger than the raw specs indicate. The A-6 could carry more bombs + fuel, while the A-7 had much more of a loadout tradeoff. So for like bomb load the A-6's range was much greater than the A-7's. Or for like range the A-6's bomb load was much greater than the A-7's.

During the Viet Nam war the two types were used pretty similarly. Largely because the target sets available only had so much variety. The A-7s were used more in the CAS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_air_support) role because that emphasizes visual ad hoc targetting whereas the A-6 was better suited to attacking known non-moving targets.

Since the Cold War was still well in progress, the A-6 had to kept aboard for the nuclear delivery role once the A-5 had been retired and until the advent of the F/A-18. Keeping the nukes was (IMO) a lot of the rationale for a single carrier hosting both A-6s and A-7s during the Viet Nam era.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 08-11-2010 at 08:45 AM..
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:58 PM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
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They each had their strengths and weaknesses, just like all aircraft. Even if you try to build a multi-role aircraft, it will be better in some roles than others. The A-7 was phased out because the F/A-18 could do everything the A-7 did well but the A-6 did poorly. Then, advancements in targeting electronics for the F/A-18 rendered the A-6 mostly obsolete by 1996. The few things the A-6 could still do better were considered not worth the cost of keeping them around. Before the F/A-18, however, the A-7 was still needed for Close Air Support of ground troops, because the A-6 pretty much sucked at that. It was primarily a night/bad weather platform for smart weapons.
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Old 08-11-2010, 09:44 PM
minor7flat5 minor7flat5 is offline
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Thanks for all of the great info. Now I can better understand why a ship would have kept both types of aircraft in their stable.

Apparently the A-6 was a more sophisticated aircraft, but at the cost of more megabux and the need of a second person in the cockpit.

Cheshire, can you elaborate on this bit: "the F/A-18 could do everything the A-7 did well but the A-6 did poorly"? I seem to be following why the A-6 was a good plane, but am not clear on what the A-7 did *better*.

And Johnny L.A., I imagine you aren't married. An ejection seat is just the kind of über cool Man Cave paraphernalia that doesn't survive past the first five years of a good marriage. But it's sure cool!
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:18 AM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
Cheshire, can you elaborate on this bit: "the F/A-18 could do everything the A-7 did well but the A-6 did poorly"? I seem to be following why the A-6 was a good plane, but am not clear on what the A-7 did *better*.
Close Air Support. AKA Napalming Charlie when he was just outside the wire at the Marines' firebase. The A-6 wasn't really good at picking out a spot on the ground and putting a bomb there. They were for pre-planned missions where you knew the location of the target before you took off, and you could hit it at night or in bad weather. It was also good at things like blasting an entire enemy troop column moving along a road, where you didn't have to pick an exact spot or risk killing your own guys on the ground. The A-7 on the other hand, was designed for "see the target, kill the target" type attacks. It's targeting system was designed for finding and killing targets on the fly. The F/A-18 was originally designed to do the same thing, with hoped-for improvements maybe allowing the one guy flying it to be able to do the work of both guys in the A-6, in which case it would (and ultimately did) replace that one, too.
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