Tag Archives: gau-8

Guns of the Air Force at 75

While Ben Franklin theorized using airships to deliver troops to battle behind enemy lines as early as 1783 and the Union Army fielded a balloon service in the Civil War, today’s Air Force traces its origin to the heavier-than-air machines of the U.S. Army’s Aeronautical Division, founded in 1907– just four years after the Wright brothers first flew. After service in Army green during both World Wars, the Air Force became an independent branch of the military in 1947 with the first Secretary of the Air Force named on Sept. 18 and its first Chief of Staff named on Sept. 26. 

To salute the 75th birthday of the USAF this week, I took a deep dive into the small arms of the organization over the years, including some rares.

Cold War-era Colt survival gun prototype
A Cold War-era Colt survival gun prototype on display at the USAF Armament Museum (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
Remington XP-100 survival gun
The Remington XP-100 survival gun concept. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
Bushmaster Arm Pistol in 5.56mm
The Bushmaster Arm Pistol in 5.56mm was another planned Air Force survival gun that made it about as high as a lead balloon. Bushmaster did, however, put it in limited commercial production. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

More in my column at Guns.com.


Happy Belated Brrrt Day

May 10, 1972: Nixon was in office, Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was on the top of the charts– which is a beautiful coincidence considering the love the public has for the A-10– and a gallon of milk cost 52 cents. 

That was the day Fairchild-Republic test pilot Howard W. “Sam” Nelson made the first flight of the YA-10 prototype Thunderbolt II, 71-1369, at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Fairchild Republic YA-10A (S/N 71-1369, the first prototype). (U.S. Air Force photo)

The rest, as they say, is 30mm history.

With that, take it away Roberta: