Sunday, June 3, 2007

A-7P Coirsair II

The Vought A-7P Coirsair II was operated by Portugal between 1981 and 1999. A total of 50 aircrafts were recieved: a first batch of 20 arrived between 1981 and 1982, a second between 1984 and 1986. But, in fact, the Air Force never operated 50 aircrafts - the maximum number should have been 46, because, when the last Coirsair landed in Monte Real, three had been lost in Portugal and also another one during the flight to Portugal.
The portuguese pilotos pushed the A-7P to its limits. Although the majority of the missions of the fleet were tactical air support for land operations (TASLO) or maritime operations (TASMO), the Coirsair had to defend the portuguese air space, a situation for which it was not the best option due to its characteristics and weapon systems.
During eighteen years of operations with the Cross of Christ in their wings, the A-7 fleet flew 64.000 hours. Currently, the Air Force operates the F-16 OCU in 201 Squadron "Falcões" and the F-16 MLU in the 301 Squadron "Jaguares" - the last one has taken the responsability of the missions of the 304 Squadron "Magníficos", desactivated in 1999.
The following photos show the aircraft (tail number 15521) that made the last flight of the fleet - in 9 July, 1999. They were taken during my visit to Monte Real, in July of 2004.

General view of the A-7P '15521' in statical exhibition in the air base of Monte Real, home of the F-16 fleet.

General view of the aircraft. The right side of the vertical stabilizer shows a tiger, symbol of the 304 Squadron "Magníficos", the last operator of the A-7P on the Portuguese Air Force.

A shot showing the left side of the vertical stabilizer with a falcon, the symbol of the 302 Squadron "Falcões".

A vertical photo of the aircraft.

[All the photos were taken with a Nikon F65 and 28-80mm zoom lens and a Fuji Superia ISO 100 film]

Pedro Monteiro

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