To foster closer cooperation between Warthog units and sharpen their Close Air Support (CAS) skills the third biennial ‘Hawgsmoke’ competition was hosted by the 47th FS ‘Dogpatchers’ in central Louisiana at the former England Air Force Base - now known as Alexandria International Airport – England Airpark - between April 29 and May 2 2004. No less than eighteen four-man teams made the effort to attend, representing all but one of the A-10 units based worldwide. The only absentee was the 355th Fighter Squadron from Eielson AFB Alaska, who were forward deployed in support of real-world operations. LtCol. James ‘Jimbo’ Macaulay, 47th Fighter Squadron Director of Operations, and the Hawgsmoke 2004 project officer summed up his aims for the competition: “ Hawgsmoke is an intense flying competition and a opportunity to share in the camaraderie and legacy of the world's premier Close Air Support fighter." This was to be a grand southern flavoured ‘Hawg Festival’.
   
 KEVIN JACKSON
 
 
  Hawg Heaven! Over seventy A-10s line the ramp at Alexandria Airport for Hawgsmoke 2004. © Kevin Jackson  
     

Hawgsmoke History
The original idea, by Hawgsmoke ‘Big Toe’ Col. Cliff Latta from the Michigan Air National Guards 172nd Fighter Squadron, was to inaugurate a biennial worldwide A-10 bombing /tactical gunnery competition as a replacement for the discontinued ‘Gunsmoke’ competition . Four-ship teams of airplanes and pilots from A-10 units around the globe would fly and compete for the honour of being the ‘Best of the Best’ in ground attack and target destruction. (Gunsmoke was the worldwide air-to-ground gunnery/bombing competition held at Nellis AFB that ended in 1995 primarily because it was cost-prohibitive for the participating units to fly their teams and ground crew out to Nevada, although it is set to return in 2005). The 172nd FS, from Battle Creek, hosted the inaugural Hawgsmoke 2000 at the remote Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center in northernmost Michigan. ‘Top Team’ honours went to the Connecticut ANG who subsequently hosted Hawgsmoke 2002 at the Fort Drum Forward Operating Location in New York State.

Led by LtCol. Macaulay, the Air Force Reserve Commands (AFRC) 47th Fighter Squadron team took the Al ‘Mud’ Moore trophy for ‘Top Overall A-10 Team’ at Hawgsmoke 2002, thereby earning the honour of hosting the 2004 event.

 

Return of the Hogs to Alex
Bringing Hawgsmoke to England Airpark was LtCol. Macaulay’s idea, inspired not just by the historic role the base played in operating a wing of A-10s for twelve years and its continued role as a vital asset supporting Army training facilities at nearby Fort Polk, but also to highlight the successful story of the regeneration of a former Air Force Base. Hawgsmoke 2004 honours the history of the A-10 at Alexandria and the phenomenal people that flew, fixed and supported them. LtCol. Macaulay explained: “A lot of us have been here many times when it was active as a Hog wing. England Airpark, as it is called now is a benchmark for the rest of the US on how you can successfully transition from a military base. This was a one-horse town in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, everything was surrounding the Air Force Base. They closed down the base in 1992 but you can see there is a lot of economic development. They have transitioned into a viable community that generates jobs and opportunities for the local community. You can contrast this with some of the other bases that have shut down and it’s a night and day difference.”

 

 KEVIN JACKSON

© Kevin Jackson
 KEVIN JACKSON
 
LtCol. Macaulay explained another reason for holding the event away from the 47th’s home base of Barksdale AFB: “We could have hosted at Barksdale but we like the austere location here. I think it helps build camaraderie and team spirit. The first one was up at Alpena, which again is very austere, and then Fort Drum after that which again consisted of four guys in a cot rather than a Holiday Inn somewhere, and that’s kind of what we have here.”
         
HUNTING HOGS
The main Hawgsmoke 2004 flying competition would take place on the nearby Claiborne Aerial Gunnery Range tactically employing the A-10. Designed by Maj Brady “Bozz” Glick and Maj “Thor” Olson, both veterans of the two previous Hawgsmoke competitions, the flying competition placed a premium on skill and efficiency in target destruction, while testing basic tenants of airmanship and flight leadership.

LtCol. Macaulay explained the various aspects of the Hawgmoke flying competition: “The first is a CAS mission simulating CBU-87 - our combined effects munitions - against an enemy tank. Nobody knows but me where it is going to be until they get airborne and open the envelope. They will have to locate it and figure out the attack axis that will be applicable to kill that tank, with each guy making one pass simulating a CBU-87 drop. The second tactical problem is the conventional range portion, this is what we call ‘sport bombing’, where the teams are going to drop six BDU-33 practice bombs and strafe a hundred rounds with the GAU-8. We measure the bomb scores down to three metres. The strafe runs are scored acoustically - a microphone placed underneath the target measures the shockwave of the bullets passing over it in a very finite cone. The third part is the Maverick event where we have a moving convoy of four vehicles - we call it ‘Osama’s convoy’. We are going to use simulated AGM-65 missiles to take out each one of those individual vehicles with each one of the flight members.

Moving targets are very difficult, especially in wooded terrain and we’re trying to present them with a challenging target. One of the hardest things to employ on the A-10 is target acquisition - actually finding the target. Killing the target is easy but finding the target is one of the most difficult things we have to work on and our competition is designed so pilots have to find the target, tell their flight members where it is and direct them on. They have to have a deconfliction plan because you cannot have four airplanes diving in on the target at the same time. The winds will affect them and the target maybe somewhere where the trees block the line of sight. They’re going to have to take a look at this tank we’ve set up for them and do a target analysis and some of them are going to screw it up. Same way with the convoy, this is not going to be an easy Maverick target and I would probably anticipate about a 50% success rate.”

         
PHOTOFILES #1
© kEVIN JACKSON & PETER GREENGRASS
A-10As of the 23rd FG line up at the old England AFB once again. The ‘Flying Tigers’ A-10s flew from here for 12 years until 1992.
© Peter Greengrass
The 23rd FG are now based at Pope AFB and report to the 4th Wing at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC.
© Peter Greengrass
With a hint of what was to come in the sky, an A-10A from the 706th FS taxi's to the ramp at Alexandria.
© Peter Greengrass
Running through there final checks before departing back to Davis-Monthan are two 'Hogs' from the
358th FS.
© Peter Greengrass

Still regarded as the ultimate Close Air Support platform, the Warthog is set to remain in service for another twenty years.
© Kevin Jackson
Tied with the host 47th FS for bringing the most A-10s to Hawgsmoke were the Michigan Guards 172nd FS, with ten 'Hogs'.
© Peter Greengrass
All the 47th FS A-10As carry nose art, characters from the Al Capp 'Dogpatch' cartoon series.
© Peter Greengrass
‘Hogs Breath’ The 47 th FS brought most of their A-10s to Alexandria. Providing aircraft for teams from Nellis AFB and Spangdahlem, Germany who could not bring their own jets.
© Kevin Jackson

The Cajuns brought a team of Crew Chiefs up to Alexandria to assist with the mammoth task of turning over seventy A-10s, here they pose for a group shot with the 706th FS Hawgsmoke pilots.
© Kevin Jackson
Warthog pilots set off for home at the conclusion of Hawgsmoke 2004 but vow to return in 2006 to finish the competition.
© Kevin Jackson

355th FW A-10s from Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona taxi to the active runway for their Hawgsmoke Range slot.
© Peter Greengrass

Over 180 maintenance and support personnel from the 717th AMS recovered, fixed and launched 76 A-10s over the four-day competition.
© Kevin Jackson
The Cajuns are unusual in the A-10 community as this is there second go at operating the 'Hog'. They first got A-10s in 1981, swapped to F-16s in 1992 but re-equiped with A-10s again in 1996.
© Kevin Jackson
The 190th FS from Boise Idaho went from SEAD to CAS in 1996 when they retired there F-4G's, they received there first A-10A on March 20 1996.
© Peter Greengrass
The imposing sight of the A-10 as another squadron arrives for Hawgsmoke 2004.
© Kevin Jackson

The oldest A-10A present at Hawgsmoke was 78-0586 assigned to the 118th FS, 103rd FW, Connecticutt ANG.
© Peter Greengrass
358th FS A-10A 78-0670 captured 'on digital' from the Alexandria tower. The 358th were one of the few teams that managed some range time.
© Kevin Jackson
The Pennsylvania ANG provided a four-jet team for the competition; here is 81-0981 lifting of the England Airpark runway en route to the range.
© Kevin Jackson

The EOR team work under the Michigan A-10s upon arrival in Alex. Thursday April 29th saw a constant stream of A-10s arriving at timed intervals.
© Kevin Jackson
Some of the smartest A-10s to arrive came from the 'Cereal Killers' of Battle Creek, Michigan. The 172nd FS inaugurated the Hawgsmoke competition in 2000.
© Kevin Jackson
Theres a Louisiana saying that goes 'If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes' A 357th FS Jet taxi's between th puddles on the packed Alexandria ramp.
© Peter Greengrass
A formation departure from the 357FS as they set off for Arizona at the conclusion of Hawgsmoke.
© Kevin Jackson
Even though the weather wasn't perfect on Thursday it got worst (see right!). The Maryland's Guard team line up at the EOR to be de-armed after arriving.
© Kevin Jackson
Competition day!
© Kevin Jackson
 

An Even Playing Field
The 47th FS tried very hard to even out any ‘home-team’ advantages that they and the New Orleans based 706th FS might have as regular customers at Claiborne. Col. Latta testified to the fairness of Hawgsmoke 2004: “This will probably be the most even-handed competition because none of the Hog pilots know the targets ahead of time. In the first Hawgsmoke we tried to do that but you typically have a home team advantage, and even when we tried to hide the targets they were pretty obvious. In the second Hawgsmoke a lot of folks knew the target in one of the Range profiles. This time they’ve done a great job of keeping that secret so the tactical portion is going to be very difficult. " LtCol. Macaualay added: “Nobody but myself and the competition director know the whereabouts of either the CBU target or the Maverick targets. With the fixed conventional bombing targets, everyone got a chance to go out there and take a look on arrival. We’re trying to zero out all the home team advantages because to be honest that’s one of the things that we didn’t like about the last competition. We have an opportunity with the template that Cliff (Col. Latta) designed to tweak the competition. We like to train to the most difficult standard and this is what Hawgsmoke is all about. We present the pilots with some tactical problems and they have to go out there and solve them just as they would in combat. I think you’ll hear from the pilots that some of the tactical problems we present them with today and in training are probably more difficult than they actually experience in combat.”

Maj. Jim ‘Slick’ Travis was number-two in the 47th FS ‘Dogpatchers’ team, the first team on the range on competition day, he confirmed the level of difficulty designed into Hawgsmoke 2004: “The profile is very realistic, they had set up a CBU target where you have to go out not knowing where the target is going to be at launch. It’s a fixed target we don’t have on this range routinely; it’s a very tactical looking target, looks just like a tank. They put it right into a location where a tank would be and gave us envelopes with target info that were to be opened once we reached the targets. So you go out to the IP (Initial Point) and the competition director says: ‘Okay, open up envelope B’ and it has the instructions and coordinates for the target.”

           
 
 PETER GREENGRASS
After the rains came the sunshine, unfortunately too late to save the flying competition. The Idaho Air Guard team prepares to deploy home to Boise. © Peter Greengrass
 

Hawgwash 2004
Unfortunately due to a series of storms crossing from eastern Texas there was little flying and no winners at Hawgsmoke 2004. April 30, the day set aside for the flying competition began with visibility of less than one mile and a cloud deck of 600 feet - well below peacetime training safety margins. With eighteen teams to cycle through the Claiborne Range at twenty-minute intervals the first team was to have arrived over the targets at 08:00. This slipped to 11:00 before the visibility improved, enabling five teams to fly before the weather deteriorated again with heavy thunderstorms and real ‘thunderbolts’ rolling in. No more flying could take place so the organisers drew up a contingency plan to conclude the competition the following day. The following day turned out to be even worse with torrential rain and lightning throughout the day. LtCol. Macaulay had to concede defeat to Mother Nature, whose roar on this occasion was louder than the A-10’s: “We had weather contingencies for the competition, all the way down to the minimums allowed for peacetime training of a 1500’ ceiling and 3 miles of visibility. Unfortunately, the ‘Perfect Storm’ that engulfed Alexandria on 30 April and 1 May did not even allow for the flat show. It’s unfortunate that all the teams didn’t get to test themselves against the tactical problems we presented, because the five teams that did unanimously agreed they were realistic, yet very challenging.”

At the rather subdued closing speech and dinner it was generally felt that ‘Hawgwash’ 2004, as it had now been dubbed, was a success despite the weather: “This was due to the people we have flying, fixing and supporting the A-10. Not forgetting the support of England Airpark and the Alexandria community who made a huge impact on the success of the gathering.” according to LtCol. Macaulay, who also praised the supreme efforts made by the 180 support personnel of the 717th AMS (Aircraft Maintenance Squadron) led by CMSgt Bob Murray. The Hog community reunion was a huge success, as was the fantastic support by the local sponsors and England Airpark manager Scott Gammel’. The perfect template is in place for Hawgsmoke 2006, although with no outright winning team the location and host are yet to be decided.

   
At such a large gathering of Hog pilots it was appropriate that there should be a remembrance ceremony for fallen comrades. This took place at the England Heritage Memorial, appropriately under the preserved A-10 on Thursday evening. A short sermon by the 47th's Chaplin was followed by the reading of the names of all the fallen Hog drivers. As a bagpiper played there followed an A-10 missing-man flypast and the customary downing of a shot of Whiskey to honour old friends and colleagues. Finally the shot glasses were smashed into a replica fireplace as a mark of respect for their colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice, may they never be forgotten.
 
© Kevin Jackson
 
 KEVIN JACKSON
 
 KEVIN JACKSON
 
 KEVIN JACKSON
       
PHOTOFILES #2
© kEVIN JACKSON & PETER GREENGRASS
Arriving on-time and in tight formation contributed to team scores for Hawgsmoke 2004.
© Kevin Jackson
No stranger to Alexandria, this A-10A was last here - then England AFB - in 1992.
© Kevin Jackson
The hosts for Hawgsmoke 2004, the 47th FS is an A-10 FTU (Formal Training Unit) with a large proportion of full-time instructor pilots assigned.
© Kevin Jackson

The temporary Hawgsmoke Life Support facilities complete with welcome sign.
© Kevin Jackson

The distinctive Hog-teeth are worn on the A-10s belonging to the Hawgsmoke 2004 host unit, the 47th FS, nicknamed the ‘Dogpatchers’.
© Kevin Jackson
Preparing to depart on the Sunday is A-10A 78-0624 one of four 'Hogs' that made the trip from Boise, Idaho.
© Peter Greengrass
303rd FS/AFRC A-10A 79-0109 named 'Thunderbolt of Sedalia' gets a final check from it's crew chief before heading home to Whiteman AFB.
© Peter Greengrass
The 303rd FS from Whiteman AFB Missouri is one of three Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) units flying the A-10A.
© Kevin Jackson

Captured leaving the de-arm area is one of the nineteen OA-10As attending Hawgsmoke. This one, 80-0186, assigned to the 74th FS, 23rd FG from Pope AFB, NC
© Peter Greengrass
The 706th FS ‘Cajuns’ were one of only five teams to get time over the targets on the Claiborne Gunnery Range before bad weather curtailed flying for the remainder of Hawgsmoke 2004.
© Kevin Jackson
Soaking up some sun instead of soaking wet, the Massachusetts Guard get ready to depart for home.
© Peter Greengrass
Carrying 'Lets Roll' emblem on the nose is OA-10A
81-0981 from the 103rd FS, Pennsylvania ANG.
© Peter Greengrass
A Hog driver from the Maryland ANG sitting in his ‘office’.
© Kevin Jackson
LTC Macaulay announces who came last in the arrival competition, one of the few prizes given out due to the curtailment of Hawgsmoke 2004. To spare their blushes I will not divulge the recipients!
© Kevin Jackson
The 104th FS were the first ANG unit to recieve LASTE (Low Altitude Safety & Targeting Enhancement) modified A-10s. This program also finally gave the 'Hog' an autopilot.
© Peter Greengrass
One of the last of the seventy odd 'Hogs' that attended Hawgsmoke 2004 sits on the deserted Alexandria ramp awaiting it's 'driver'
© Peter Greengrass
The 104th FS Maryland ANG team arrive at Alexandria from Baltimore. Hawgsmoke only requires pilots and jets to turn up, all ground handling is carried out by the host unit, the 47th FS.
© Peter Greengrass
The 355th Wing was represented at Alexandria by the 358th FS and the 357th FS. 358th FS A-10A 82-0662 captured on departure day (note: no puddles!)
© Peter Greengrass
 
Acknowledgments
Sharpshooter would like to thank Jessica D’Aurizio of the 917th Wing and the entire AFRC Hawgsmoke Public Affairs team for their tireless media assistance. Also Lt Col. Macaulay and Maj. Travis and everyone from the 47th Fighter Squadron, and Joe Hodges from the A-10 SPO at Hill AFB for their outstanding help in the preparation of this article. At England Airpark Scott Gammel and CMSgt Bob Murrey deserve praise for giving the media all the access requested for photography throughout the airfield.
 
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