“A Noise I Never Want To Hear Again”

The odd duck of the Air Force for the last twenty years has always been the A-10 Thunderbolt II. It’s a fearsome ground attack aircraft — the first the Air Force ever fielded that was specifically designed for the task.  The entire aircraft is actually built around its General Electric GAU-8/A cannon, a colossal Gatling gun the size of a VW Beetle that shoots depleted uranium shells designed to pierce the hide of the toughest tanks of the old Soviet Union.  It’s a weapon that nobody wants to be on the wrong end of.

If you’re curious what being on the wrong end of that gun would be
like, though, you should check out the BBC’s story about a British tank crew that were caught in a friendly fire incident when an A-10 pilot mistakenly identified their vehicles as Iraqi tanks:

Lance Corporal Gerrard said he suddenly heard the distinctive, relentless roar of an A-10’s anti-tank gunfire.

“I will never forget that noise as long as I live. It is a noise I never want to hear again,” he said. “There was no gap between the bullets. I heard it and I froze. The next thing I knew the turret was erupting with white light everywhere, heat and smoke… I felt I was going to burn to death. I just shouted ‘reverse, reverse, reverse’.”

Talk about a waking nightmare…