Attack aviation is intense and dangerous. It necessitates the direct engagement of ground targets at low altitude. Attack aircraft are usually fighters or fighter-sized aircraft, with one or two engines, and one or two crew. This work provides an overview history of American attack aviation from its inception to present, including both the US Navy and Air Force. The pillars of the narrative are several case studies that characterize the evolution of technology and tactics over time: SBD Dauntless, AD Skyraider, A-4 Skyhawk, A-7 Corsair II, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and F/A-18 Hornet. Each of the cases contains first-person accounts that include a description of the aircraft’s origin, competitive procurement, major attack features, and combat employment. Author R. G. Head (Brig. Gen., Ret.) has extensive experience in combat (325 missions, DFC, Silver Star) and an in-depth understanding of doctrine (taught future pilots at the Air Force Academy) and gained first-person exposure to the policy and engineering aspects of the aircraft procurement process while serving at the Pentagon and later as a private consultant working in collaboration with the US Navy. This is a story about flying. It is told by naval aviators, Air Force fighter pilots, and the men who built the airplanes the pilots flew.


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