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Authors: Jim DeFelice

Hogs #1: Going Deep

BOOK: Hogs #1: Going Deep
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Air War in the Gulf




By Jim DeFelice


written as James Ferr


Book #1 in
the HOGS air war series based on the exploits of the A-10A Warthog pilots in
the 1991 Gulf War





Copyright © 1999 by Jim DeFelice. All rights






October 2012


I started writing the Hogs series early in my
career, soon after the end of what we now call the First Gulf War. The A-10A
was still something of an ugly duckling– or Warthog– at the time, though the
men who’d seen her in action were quick with praise. The planes and their crews
gave everything they had in that war, and then some; the colonel who “owned”
the Hogs after the conflict used rather colorful language when explaining their
condition to me following the fight.

Things are different now. It seems as if the whole
world knows about the Hogs. They’ve been overhauled and upgraded considerably
since the war, so much so that they’ve been rechristened as A-10Cs. But they’re
still amazing tough . . . and still darn ugly.


Another thing that hasn’t changed– Hog drivers are
still a rare breed, throwback stick and rudder types whose skills squeeze every
ounce of capability from their amazing machines. Man and beast are lean and
lethal warriors, perfectly matched.

I was still learning– I still
when I wrote those books. One of my regrets is that, in portraying the
squadron, I had to cut down dramatically on the number of people and streamline
the various tasks involved to keep the story manageable. There were probably
ten or twenty people in the real squadron for every one person depicted in the
books. I wish I could have depicted and thereby honored everyone who
contributed to their success.

About the pseudonym, James Ferro– it was a
marketing device at the time, suggested by the publisher (I believe) so readers
wouldn’t be confused by the historical fiction I was also writing. The last
name is a tribute to my wife’s family, most especially my late father-in-law, a
no-nonsense, meat and potatoes Marine, whom I’m sure wouldn’t have minded a few
Hogs flying overhead when he was in Korea.

- Jim DeFelice





17 JANUARY 1991

0555 (ALL DATES &


The desert stretched
without borders, without anything
but heat and pink light. It lay as it
had lain for thousands
of years; silent,
undisturbed, impenetrable.

And then came the roar.

It started as the somber rattle from the back of a dying
man's throat. The next second a hurricane pounded the
air, whipping sand and stone in fury.

Then something infinitely worse exploded in the sky,
something metallic, something
swirling, something from hell.
Four black beasts filled the southeastern horizon like the
lions of the Apocalypse. The
reflection of morning light off
the sand splayed like blood across their wings, vengeance
glistening against their seething
muscles. Their dark bodies
the pink flesh of the horizon, thirsting for the
judgment of fire and damnation

Startled from the half-daze of a monotonous watch, the
sentry grabbed his rifle and flung
himself against the sand filled bags at the front of the trench. It took a
moment for his brain to register the fact that the planes were coming from the
south and not the north— they were friends, not foes. The thick canisters of
death slung
beneath their wings were not meant
for him.

 “What the hell are those?” he asked his companion as
the planes roared over their positions.

The other soldier laughed. “You never saw A-10 Warthogs

“They're on our side?”

“You better pray to God they are.”







17 JANUARY 1991



“Get into the
damn cursor now!” Doberman shouted
at the fuzzy shadow in the corner of his infrared targeting screen. H
e pushed all of his 120 pounds into
the A-lOA's seat harness, as if his body’s momentum might somehow improve his
aim— or help hold the target steady. But the huge dish of the Iraqi ground
intercept radar station continued to slosh around in the screen, refusing to
lock. Doberman blamed the wind and clouds, cursed his adrenaline, and kept his
hands glued to the controls as he pushed below twelve thousand feet, his only
aim in life to blow a good hunk of Iraqi early-warning hardware to Hell where
it belonged.

Outside the bubble cockpit, Devil Two's straight, stubby
wings cut through the thick air, balanced perfectly
by several thousand pounds of
The Hog's twin
GE TF34 turbofans, mounted above the fuselage
like Flash Gordon's rocket pack, pushed the nose of the
dark green warplane faster and faster toward the gristly sand of the desert.

From a distance, the A-10A looked a bit like a
winged pickup truck headed for

Up close, it looked like a weathered two-by-four loaded
for bear.

Inside the cockpit,
Captain Thomas “Doberman” Glenon
narrowed his eyes until he
saw only the television screen in the
top right-hand corner of his instrument panel. Slaved to the infra-red seeking
device in the nose of his
air-to-ground Maverick G missile,
the display provided the pilot with a heat picture of the ground below
him. Finally, it glowed radar dish; he locked, drew a half-breath, and clicked
the trigger. Devil Two kicked slightly
as the
missile whipped
out from beneath her wing. The pilot caught
a glimpse of the Maverick's exhaust and stared at it,
momentarily entranced by his first
launch in combat. He snapped back to attention, thumbed another missile up, and
pointed the A-lOA's nose in the direction of what ought to be a long
metal trailer jammed with radar
equipment. He launched, then
rolled up another

No matter how much you trained for combat, no matter how
refined the lines and arrows on the maps, real life
blurred past you like a freight train
flinging itself down a
Doberman barely realized what he was doing, pushing buttons and talking to
himself, searching his front windscreen
for his second target. Forever and forever passed.
Every curse known to man failed to get
the stinking thing to s
up. Altitude kept bleeding away.
Doberman mashed his teeth together, his face gnarling into the
unflattering pose that had helped earn him his nickname. He was ready to
concede he'd lost his way when
something clicked in his head; without conscious thought he pulled the
trigger. In the next moment the Maverick went whoosh-bam-thank-you-ma’am,
flinging its three hundred pounds of high explosive toward an Iraqi radar

Less than a minute had passed since he had begun his
bombing run, but it had seemed like a lifetime. The plane was already low
enough to draw serious anti-aircraft fire. He kicked his head back
and got ready to take some Gs.


Flying in Devil Four, Lieutenant William James “BJ”
Dixon had lost Doberman as soon as
the lead plane began its
run. Dixon was late eyeballing his target area, late
putting his eyes over to the Maverick
screen. Everything came at him twenty times faster than it should. The fact
that he'd practiced this attack several times over the past few days didn't
matter, and the abilities that had
helped him rate among the
pilots at every stage of his training seemed to have deserted him. His head
felt like it was a hand grenade with the pin removed. His arms and legs moved as
if through heavy oil. The Hog growled at him, yelling at the pilot to get his
together. No drill
instructor had a meaner snarl.

Dixon glanced down at his right hand, aware that he was
squeezing the stick hard enough to
bend metal. He couldn't unclench. The plane jerked toward the ground, propelled
the tension in his arms and legs.

His main target was a topo-scatter communications tower
not far from the radar dish his flight leader had hit. His eyes darted from the
windscreen to the television, back and forth, waiting for the shadowy figure to
appear. Finally, he saw something in the tube and pushed the trigger to lock
and fire in practically the same motion. As the missile burst away, he worried
that h
e hadn’t locked up
on the right target— the screen had been a blur and he’d only picked the
biggest shadow. Quickly, he put another Maverick on line, yelling at himself to
study the screen more carefully, trying to narrow the world down to the small
tube and its depiction of the target area. But too much was happening. He’d
drifted off course and now overcorrected, and if the tower was still there it
wouldn’t appear anywhere in the screen. Finally, he saw a squat shadow he
recognized as a radar van, slid the cursor in for a lock, and fired.

Glancing up at his windscreen, he realized he had gone
lower than planned— a hell of a lot lower.

The altimeter read two thousand feet.

the stick
back, jerked it for dear life, his whole body
with panic.


Doberman returned to twelve thousand feet, reorienting
himself to continue the attack. While he’d practiced mid-altitude bombing a lot
in the last few weeks, he still felt vaguely uneasy
attacking at this altitude. Nor was he
used to going after something
so placid, though well protected, as a radar installation— officially
an “early warning ground control intercept
station” or GCI for short. The Hog's “normal” mission was
close-in troop support
and tank busting, and if it had been all the same to Doberman, he would have
spent the first day of the air war against Iraq cruising about fifty feet off
the ground and blowing up recycled Russian armor near the Saudi border. But the
GCI stations located deep within Iraq were an important part of the enemy air
defenses; taking
them out
was critical to the success of the allied air plan.
The fact that such an important job
had been given to Hogs meant that someone in Riyadh finally realized how
the slow but
steady low-altitude attack planes really were.

That, or they were desperate.

On the bright side, the mission planners had given them
pictures and everything, just like
they were Stealth
As his friend A-Bomb had said yesterday: Draw
a little snout on a trailer and it practically looks
like a
tank, so what's the big deal?

Keying the mike to ask his wingman, Lieutenant Dixon, how
his Maverick run had gone,
spotted a command building through the broken layers of clouds below. It was
the last of his primary targets, too fat and juicy to pass up. He glanced
quickly at the Maverick targeting screen, found the building. Locked it tight,
and kissed it goodbye. As the missile clunked off the wing rail, the pilot
glanced back to the windscreen and spotted two trailers within a few hundred
feet of each other, looking for all the world like the photo he'd memorized
before the mission. With his Mavericks gone, he was down to the dumb stuff— six
cluster bombs sat beneath
wings, clamoring to be dropped. Doberman tucked the Hog
back toward the ground, rolling the
big plane over his shoulder like a black belt karate instructor tossing an
opponent to the mat.

As the attack jet headed downward, the Hog's leading
edges grabbed at the air as eagerly as
the pilot himself.
a swept-wing, pointy-nose fighter, the A-10A Thunderbolt II had been designed
to go relatively slow, an
attribute when you were trying to plink tin cans a
few feet off the deck. Even so, with
all the stops out and the plane growling for blood as she plummeted toward the
yellow Iraqi dirt, she felt incredibly fast. The g's collected around
Doberman's face, tugging at his narrow cheeks and
unshaven morning stubble.

This was the part of flying he loved- the burning rush
that made you feel hotter than a
bullet rifled out a flaming
barrel. His scalp tingled beneath its razor cut, and his
over-sized ears— the only parts of
his compact body that
be called large— vibrated with adrenaline.

But this was more than a rush, more than fun and games.
He wasn't flying a training gig, and the gray rectangles
below hadn't been plopped there by
overworked airmen anxious
a weekend pass. White cotton balls appeared all around
him. They puffed and curled around him
as he flew,
tennis balls that frittered into thin air as he

The innocent puffs were shells, exploding just out of

Okay, Doberman thought, they're shooting at me. Fair's
fair; I hit them first.

He continued onward, flexing his fingers in his gloves
as he held the stick, telling himself
not to overdo it.
Even a
blue-collar dirt mover like the Hog was designed to
be flown, not muscled.

You stay loose, you stay in control.

The cluster bombs vibrated on their pylons, demanding
to be fired. Each bomb was actually a
dump truck for smaller
once dropped it would dispense a deadly shower of
hundreds of bomblets for maximum damage.

Doberman was all eyes. His eyelashes blinked the flak
away, blinked aside the other trailers, found the one that
had been waiting for him, the one that
had been dug into the
of sand dune months before in preparation for this
exact moment.

Two CBUs fell from his wings. Doberman rocked in his
seat, dodging the Hog to the left. He
saw the dark shadow of
trailer slide into the middle of his windscreen as he jinked; he eased back,
angling to get it into his sweet
spot. Finally it slid in like a curve ball finding the
strike zone; he held it for the
umpire and pickled two more
of his bombs.

He was low now, below five thousand feet, lower than
he'd been ordered to fly and nearly
too low to drop any more cluster bombs effectively because of their preset
fuses. His head buzzed with blood and the
exploding 23 millimeter antiaircraft shells the Iraqis
were firing at him. There was so much flak in the air Doberman
could get out and walk across it.

That was probably a bad sign.

On the other hand, a lot of stuff was burning. That was
really good.

Gunning his A-10 off east of the target area, Doberman
turned his neck in ways it had never gone before, looking for Dixon. His
wingman didn't answer the radio calls, but that wasn't necessarily surprising—
just before the attack
kid was so nervous he had obviously forgotten to key the
mike before talking.

Two other members of the 535
Fighter Squadron
Devils One and Three, had been assigned to
hit a second GCI complex about ten miles to the west.
Doberman thought he saw a finger of smoke rising from where
it should be. He and Dixon were due
to head south soon and
up with the Hogs in ten minutes. From there they would
head toward a forward air base in
northern Saudi, rearm, and head back north for a second round of shoot-‘em-up.

Then they'd head home to bootleg beer, real long showers
and a few good hands of poker. Doberman had lost
over five hundred dollars the night before, the
latest and
by far the
worst in a series of shellackings he'd taken
since landing in Saudi Arabia. The pilot was determined
make at least half of that back tonight.

No way his luck could stay as bad as it was last night.
He'd bitten off some of the worst
hands of his life. And even when he'd had a good hand, inevitably someone else

Doberman had held aces over eights in a full house on
the last hand, hunkered down in front
of a pot that held at
three hundred bucks. And damned if A-Bomb, of all
people, hadn't been holding four aces.

“Dead man's hand,” said the other pilot, pointing to the
cards on the table as he raked the chips in. “Doc
Holiday drew that the day he was
killed. Never bet on that.
Can't win.”

BOOK: Hogs #1: Going Deep
5.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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