Military Aviation

Father of the iconic A-10 Warthog passes away

“There was a major in the Air Force . . . . He saw the first couple of ones. He said, ‘Geez, that thing is as ugly as a warthog.’ And it stuck,” Elliot Kazan manager for the development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II

The man who is widely credited as the father of the Fairchild Republic A-10 has passed away. Elliot Kazan lead a team of nearly 500 people to design the iconic Warthog in the 1970s. He was 90.

According to Newsday, Kazan died on Aug. 9 from complications of sepsis.

As told by his family, Kazan grew up in Queens and studied aeronautical engineering at Polytechnic University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1949 and a master’s degree in 1950. After briefly working for Boeing, Kazan took a job working for the Republic Aviation Company in Farmingdale, which later became Fairchild-Republic.

It was while working there that Kazan was named project manager for the development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which was nicknamed the “Warthog” because of its bulky and ungainly disposition.

“There was a major in the Air Force . . . . He saw the first couple of ones,” Kazan told Newsday in 2003. “He said, ‘Geez, that thing is as ugly as a warthog.’ And it stuck.”

The first production A-10A was delivered to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., in October 1975. More than 700 A-10 Thunderbolt II planes were manufactured in the 1970s and 1980s The upgraded A-10C reached initial operation capability in September 2007. Specifically designed for close air support, its combination of large and varied ordnance load, long loiter time, accurate weapons delivery, austere field capability, and survivability has proven invaluable to the U.S. and its allies. The aircraft sports the seven-barrel GAU-8/A 30mm Gatling gun, capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute to defeat a wide variety of targets including tanks.

“He heard one guy after another say to him, ‘That plane saved my life. It was full of holes and it still flew me back safely,” Kazan’s wife of 55 years, Dorothy, said. “It was the love of his life, that airplane.”

Relatives said Kazan was even more devoted to his family, which included his two daughters.

“He would work 16 hours and he would come home and there was no running and hiding or anything like that . . . . He would have the girls out sleigh riding,” said his son-in-law, Stephen Kazan, who took his family’s name. “He was a dad first and an engineer second . . . . He was one of those guys who got it right.”

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. A-10A Thunderbolt II 354th TFW, 353rd TFS Black Panthers, MB/78-0660. Myrtle Beach AFB, SC – 1991, Operation Desert Storm

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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