I would like to understand the hardpoint use for the A-10A during the 1980s. From various official and model-building sources, there are eight wing and three fuselage pylons, all permanently installed, with a total capacity of 16,000 lbs. It seems that the sum of the individual loads is greater than that, with restrictions on which pylons can be fully loaded at the same time. I've seen them numbered 1 to 11 from left to right, with 5 to 7 being the fuselage pylons.

  • I've variously read that 4+6+8 or just 4+8 were wet hardpoints for fuel tanks. Yet a 600-gallon ferry tank would be about two tons, more than 4+8 are supposed to carry. Was the 600-gallon tank only carried on the centerline, and if so what tanks were carried on the wings? Is there a difference between the A-10A and the A-10C in this regard?
  • As I understand it, external tanks were not rated for combat during the Cold War era. This seems understandable considering the crowded potential battlefield in the Fulda Gap. Was there a difference in nominal capacities for combat use and ferry tanks?
  • 3+9 can carry triple racks with AGM-65. Not 4+8 as well? The weights would seem well within limits.
  • Could 6 be used at all if 5+7 were loaded, or was it either-or?

Basically my question is how much each pylon could carry.

The underlying question is what a historically accurate yet visually interesting loadout for a Cold War tankbuster would be. Mavericks, Rockeyes, what else?


2 Answers 2


The declassified manual I have is from 1988; below shows the carriage of three 600-gallon tanks:

enter image description here

I don't have tables for unlike stores, but the limitation is expressed in torque:

Maximum asymmetrical load moment is 27,168 foot-pounds. Distance in feet from fuselage centerline to pylon stations is as follows:

1 & 11 19.1
2 & 10 15.6
3 & 9 12.0
4 & 8 5.5
5 & 7 1.9

I hope that helps. Anyone feel free to reuse and expand on the above in your answer.

  1. There are several sizes of external fuel tanks. For example the USAF uses or used 275, 330, 375, and 600 gallon fuel tanks (and probably others) over the last several decades. 600 gallon is afaik only used for centerline use and not combat rated.

  2. Ideally you don't want to use external tanks on combat sorties. Not only does it limit the number of weapons you can carry, it also reduces your turning capabilities and makes you a bigger and juicier target (the external tanks aren't self sealing or armoured, unlike the internal tanks). If you need a ferry tank to the combat area, drop it before entering combat. That's been SOP since the invention of such tanks. In fact if you zoom in on one of the photos in the PDF linked to from the URL you posted you can see smaller tanks on the inboard stations, plus a 600 gallon tank on the centerline.

  3. probably because those hardpoints weren't wired for the missile control connectors.

  4. if they could be used all at once it'd severely limit the loads on either. I've never seen photos or video of A-10s in that configuration.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I've seen non-official references to 600-gallon tanks under the wings, so any official source for your first point would be very nice. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 9:46

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