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A-10A JAWS Schemes
Part One

by Dana Bell


A-10A  in  JAWS Scheme
Fuselage "Spotted" Pattern for A-10A 75-262





Dateline 1978. I was busily applying ink and Zip-a-tone to a series of A-10 drawings for special 12-page edition of Pri-Fly, the IPMS Washington, DC, chapter publication. Our goal was to portray all of the color schemes carried by the Warthog. Both the Air Force and Fairchild Republic were offering a great deal of help, and the drawings were almost completed. Then, photos began to surface showing an odd splotchy camouflage being applied at Nellis AFB, Nevada.



A-10A JAWS "Spotted Camouflage"


Jaws, both the book and movie, was still quite popular, and the military found an excuse to turn the name into an acronym. Tactical tests of the A-10 and Army attack and observation helicopters became the "Joint Attack Weapons System." 

During the tests, Air Force Aggressor pilots reported that the A-10's light celestial camouflage scheme made the Warthog easily visible from above. At Nellis, the 57th Tactical Training Wing assumed the responsibility for developing terrestrial camouflage schemes. Four aircraft were given an overall coat of tan, green, or gray, then sprayed and brushed with spots of three or four other earth tones. Two of the camouflages were evaluated at JAWS II in November 1977. The scheme's developers had plans for repaint kits to accompany deploying units, changing the spots on aircraft as geographical conditions required (much like the Army's temporary camouflages of the 1930s), but by September 1978 Nellis was developing what became the European I (or Lizard) scheme, and the spotted camouflages became a minor, though well-remembered, camouflage oddity. (Note that several special operations H-1s and H-3s carried a similar camouflage called the Leopard scheme; these spots were applied to represent aggressors in helicopter versus helicopter evaluations, and were not used for operational purposes.)

The Air Force was able to supply nearly two hundred detail slides and prints of the aircraft, enough that I felt I could fully reproduce the schemes on two of the aircraft. Detail documentation was incomplete for a third aircraft, and the fourth was no longer available. We expanded the monograph to sixteen pages to fit in the new drawings, and published in August 1978. The drawings were republished several times, including Microscale sheet 48-69. In trying to scan them for this article, however, I couldn't get comfortable with the resolution, so I spent a couple of afternoons "coloring them in" with photo shop. The drawings are only schematics, but we're including several of the better photos to help any modeler who wishes to try to get all the spots in the actual locations!

Only five colors were used initially, though a couple of others were used for later touch-ups. One aircraft (75-259) used all five colors; the two tan aircraft (75-258 and 75-262) did not use the gray, and the gray aircraft (75-260) did not use the tan. The colors were: gray 36213, dark green 34092, olive green 34102, brown 30118, and tan 30227.



A-10A JAWS Characteristics


Modelers should note that early A-10s displayed a number of detail differences. These will be particularly important for any of the newer kits, such as the 1/32d scale Trumpeter model, but several of the older kits can be built as the early production aircraft will no modifications.

The USAF had originally planned for ten pre-production aircraft, all to be built at Farmingdale, NY. Congress cut the funding to six pre-production airframes after work had begun on ten, so the last four pre-production aircraft simply became the first four production aircraft. Three of those four aircraft wore the JAWS camouflages. The effects on modelers are minor: for aircraft 75-258 through 75-261, the flaps could deploy 30 degrees, and the flap guides extended several inches beyond the wings' trailing edges. For aircraft 75-262 and all subsequent A-10s, the flaps deployed only 20 degrees, and the flap guides were flush with the wings' trailing edges. None of the JAWS-scheme aircraft were delivered with the dorsal formation/flood light, though both 75-259 and 75-262 had one fitted to by the time they received the spotted camouflages.

The following details applied to all four of the JAWS-camouflaged aircraft: 

  • The ESCAPAC 1E-9 ejection seat was fitted 

  • The original square boarding ladder was fitted 

  • Each had an X-band radar antenna mounted atop the right vertical fin 

  • Each had the underside UHF/TACAN antenna mounted forward, next to the nose gear door 

  • All had the old box-style antenna under the nose (to the right of the gun) and under the tail 

  • None had the ALR-69 radar warning lumps on the nose or tail (there are four each on current A-10s) 

  • None had nose-illuminating flood lights inside of racks 1 and 11 

  • None had the INS intake or exhaust to the right side of the canopy 

  • None had ammo loading door cover scoops 

  • None had chaff/flare dispensers under the wingtips or on the wheel sponsons.



JAWS Colors on 75-262


The next article will include photos of 75-258 and 75-260, and the last article will have drawings and photos of 75-259. This article will concentrate on 75-262, the first production aircraft delivered from Fairchild's Hagerstown, Maryland, facility. Accepted on 31 March 1976, 262 reported initially to the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. 


Upper Surface "Spotted" Pattern for A-10A 75-262


There is some controversy over its original, delivery camouflage. Air Force records show that the aircraft was evaluated in 36320 Dark Ghost Gray undersurfaces, with special 40% reflecting MASK-10A paint on uppersurfaces and sides. (The unusual MASK-10A paints had no FS595 equivalents, and changed colors under different lighting conditions.) Fairchild factory drawings agree about the Dark Ghost Gray, but claim that a lighter 50% reflecting MASK-10A was applied to uppers and sides.


Lower Surface "Spotted" Pattern for A-10A 75-262


After moving to Nellis, 262 became one of the two spotted A-10s to participate in November 1977's JAWS II exercises. It also flew out of British and German bases in early 1978 during European evaluations and tests of the Imaging Infrared (IIR) AGM-65D Maverick missile.


Vertical Tails "Spotted" Pattern for A-10A 75-262


The aircraft's spotted camouflage included a base coat of tan 30227, with spots of dark green 34092, olive green 34102, and brown 30118. Two rows of nineteen black and yellow checks were painted atop the inside and outside fin surfaces, and a low-vis black wing insignia was stenciled on either side of the fuselage above the national insignia.



Detail Photographs


The right fin shows the low-vis TAC shield above the 57th's "WA" tail codes

The right side of the forward fuselage shows the 57th shield above the national insignia. On later aircraft, the INS air intake would be fitted above, and slightly forward of, the unit insignia. An exhaust would appear aft, just above the other two exhaust ports.

The mount for the Pave Penny pod was attached for this photo. Note the small radar warning antenna mounted forward of the open nose gear door.

The left side of the nose shows the original square boarding ladder, the flat-faced ammo loading door, the black knife-blade antenna beside the nose wheel well, and the top of the old ESCAPAC ejection seat.


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Artwork and Text Copyright 2001 by Dana Bell
Photographs Copyright United States Air Force
Page Created 07 May, 2001
Last updated 04 June, 2001

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