Aviation Historian 41
P.Lewis - Switzerland & the Swashbuckler
Members of the Flugwaffe A-7 Corsair II evaluation team at Emmen during the visit of two USAF A-7Ds to Switzerland during April 1972. From left to right: Major Jean Brunner; Oberst Ernst Wyler; Brigadier Kurt Werner; Oberst im Generalstab (Colonel of the General Staff) Oberst Hans Stauffer and Hauptmann Ernst Gmunder.
The US Navy’s A-7E variant made its UK public debut at the SBAC show at Farnborough in September 1970, two examples from VA-195 “Dambusters” attending and displaying at the show by virtue of their British-codeveloped TF41 engines. This example, BuNo 156880, “Chippie 401”, was photographed by RICHARD T. RIDING.
A-7D serial 71-303 and Milan S 01 - the tail of which is just visible in the background - were put on public display at Emmen on May 2, 1972. The Corsair is carrying a full load of Swiss 450kg bombs on its wing hardpoints, plus Sidewinder AAMs on stations four and five. Neither type was selected in the end, the Swiss deciding to acquire additional Hawker Hunters.
The two USAF A-7Ds photographed overhead the Gotthard range heading south to the Cesero range in Ticino in April 1972. While the Harrier’s unique V/STOL capability was a valuable asset in such mountainous topography, the Corsair’s warload capacity - it was a veritable “bomb truck” - was far greater than the Harrier’s.
Rolls-Royce technicians at Derby work on assembling the second test example of the Allison TF41-A-1 low-bypass turbofan engine - an Anglo-American development of the British manufacturer’s Spey - in November 1967, before the flight clearance programme in the USA the following year. The TF41 was developed specifically for use in the A-7.
REGARDING AIRCRAFT-LIFTING points for compatibility with the crane apparatus in cavern hangars at Flugwaffe mountain bases, it was thought that minimal changes to the Corsair’s existing lifting-points could be achieved during the manufacturing process by leaving more structure at each point. Furthermore, by adding a fold above the ECM pod on the fin, the Corsair’s overall height could be reduced by 1 1/2-2ft (45-60cm), and by increasing the length of the nosewheel extension leg (thereby lowering the rear fuselage), a similar amount could also be gained. Swiss planners originally mistakenly thought the A-7’s fin could be folded, whereas only the wings had a folding mechanism. The two A-7Ds that visited Switzerland in April 1972 were evaluated at Turtmann for cavern-compatibility, as seen here.
One of the two USAF A-7Ds at Turtmann in the spring of 1972. Note the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile (AAM) on station five just below the leading edge of the wing. USAF A-7Ds were wired to carry Sidewinders only on stations four and five, although stations one and eight could also be wired accordingly, as specified by the US Navy for its A-7Es.
One of the two visiting A-7Ds at Emmen in April 1972 being reversed into the engine-test shed. The USAF’s A-7Ds reflected the type’s naval origins by retaining both the arrester hook and folding wings, the latter seen here in their folded position. Note the Sidewinder AAMs have been removed from the fuselage stations.
With a sprightly turn to port from Emmen’s Runway 22, A-7D serial 71-294 tucks its undercarriage up in short order for a display during its Swiss visit. In June the previous year Hawker Siddeley had demonstrated the Harrier in Switzerland.
Like its Second World War namesake stablemate predecessor, the Corsair II had a surprisingly roomy cockpit that found favour with pilots. The USAF’s A-7D, as seen here, incorporated cutting-edge technology, including the Projected Map Display System (the circular grey screen to the right of the top of the control column).
Designed specifically by Dassault and F+W Emmen as a tactical support aircraft for the Flugwaffe, the Dassault Milan incorporated foreplanes - or “moustaches” - of 1m (3ft 3in) span which reduced take-off distance, improved low-speed handling and offered exceptional manoeuvrability in Switzerland’s steep valleys. The sole Milan S 01 first flew on May 24, 1969.