The Flying SLUF
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II was an excellent carrier-based, light attack aircraft. But its career was overshadowed by its predecessor—the remarkable Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The A-7 served in the U.S. fleet for 25 years, being retired in 1991 following action in the Gulf War. Skyhawk variants served in the Navy a dozen years beyond, until 2003!
The Navy had begun seeking a new light attack aircraft in the early 1960s. To reduce costs, competitors were asked to submit proposals derived from existing aircraft. LTV (formerly Chance Vought), Douglas, Grumman, and North American Aviation participated, and on 11 February 1964, the LTV design was selected.
The firm’s proposal was based on a derivative of its F-8 Crusader, an outstanding Mach 2 fighter.1 However, the resulting A-7 was subsonic and snub-nosed, the latter leading to its Air Force moniker SLUF—for short, little, ugly fellah. (At times another word was substituted for the “f” word.)