Installed in all production A-10 attack aircraft as well as in both YA-10As (in which was retrofitted replacing the Vulcan cannon originally installed), the seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger 30 mm Gatling gun is the primary Warthog weapon for close air support (CAS) missions.
The GAU-8 itself weighs 620 pounds (280 kg), but the complete weapon, with feed system and drum, weighs 4,029 pounds (1,828 kg) with a maximum ammunition load.
It measures 19 ft 5 1⁄2 in (5.931 m) from the muzzle to the rearmost point of the ammunition system, and the ammunition drum alone is 34.5 inches (88 cm) in diameter and 71.5 inches (1.82 m) long.
Power for operating the gun is provided by twin hydraulic motors pressurized from two independent hydraulic systems.
The magazine can hold 1,174 rounds, although 1,150 is the typical load due to the 575-round capacity of the loading cart. Muzzle velocity when firing Armor-Piercing Incendiary rounds is 1,013 m/s, almost the same as the substantially lighter M61 Vulcan’s 20 mm round.
Something almost nobody knows is that because of the GAU-8A the A-10 has a window wash system.
‘When we would fire the GAU-8/A cannon on the Hawg, it would produce prodigious amounts of burnt gunpowder residue. So much so that the front window would, after a few gun runs, become noticeably dirty/hazy because of the sheer amount of gunsmoke residue.
‘The A-10 was a brilliantly designed purpose-built aircraft, and for me the cherry on top was the window wash system. Simply push a button in the cockpit and window wash fluid would be dispensed from nozzles at the base of the front windscreen allowing the slipstream to carry it up and wash the residue away.
‘Something else not generally known is that when the gun is fired, the igniters in the engines will also engage so long as the trigger is held and for 10 seconds afterwards,’ Charlie Alpha adds. ‘This helps to keep the motors running in case they ingest a large amount of smoke/residue during the gun run. Should the gun gas ingestion cause a momentary flame out, the ignitors provide the spark to keep the flame lit until the gun is turned off.’
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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