Most of our readers have been with us for at least 2 years if not more and the one thing we found out was that you folks, just as us, love the A-10. Who wouldn’t?
A plane designed specifically for CAS, it has a long loiter time, a titanium bathtub to protect its pilot so he can get really low and of course, the GAU-8. Speaking of which, the saying that’s often associated with this plane is that it was the first plane built around a gun. Well, we just found out that might not have been the case.
As you can see in the above graphic, the Germans had a similar idea for a ground attack aircraft. It was called the Hs 129.
Made by a company called Henschel, this ground attack aircraft was introduced in 1942 with the same idea A-10 engineers had in mind. They wanted to protect the pilots when performing low-level attacks. For this reason, they had a “bathtub” design which pushed the pilot as far toward the front of the cockpit as possible to increase visibility but also made it out of steel and very angular to deflect bullets. The canopy itself was made out of 3-inch armored glass.
Although it was also equipped with 2 machine guns, one of the later variant’s main weapon was the 75mm Pak 40 anti-tank cannon. As you can tell by the diagram, the whole feeding mechanism sat behind the cockpit with the barrel sticking out well ahead of it. At over 3,000 lbs, it was the heaviest gun installed in an aircraft until the A-10 Thunderbolt II was built around the GAU-8.
Here’s some footage of it in action.