Inspired by the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II, it originally appeared in 1984 as the primary attack plane of the terrorist organization Cobra. The toy came with a mercenary Cobra pilot codenamed "Wild Weasel" and was intended as Cobra's answer to the "G.I. Joe Skystriker," which had been added to the toyline a year earlier (which was itself a virtual copy of the USN F-14 Tomcat -- the Skystriker was designated as an "XP-14F").
As mentioned, the Cobra Rattler was clearly based on the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Primary modifications included moving the A-10's fuselage-mounted engines to the wings (in order to facilitate a VTOL system in which the Rattler's wings pivoted on their axis to redirect engine exhaust downwards), the addition of a third engine, mounted on the back of the plane between the vertical tail stabilizers, and the addition of a dorsal-mounted, manned gun turret.
Although ostensibly remaining a ground-attack aircraft like the A-10, in both the cartoon and comic book the Rattler was often depicted more as a fighter. This was undoubtedly due in part to the lack of a more appropriate Cobra fighter being produced by Hasbro early on in the toyline; however, it was also likely due to the rivalry, depicted in both the comic book and cartoons, between the Rattler pilot "Wild Weasel" and the Skystriker pilot "Ace". This rivalry began with one of the Rattler's earliest appearances in the comic book, issue #34 ("Shake Down!"), when Wild Weasel ambushes Ace, initiating a dog fight over suburban New Jersey. Regardless, the plane would become Cobra's primary aircraft throughout most of the original cartoons and comic books, and indeed perhaps one of the most iconic and well-remembered models from the toyline.
The original toy version of the Cobra Rattler came armed with dorsal-mounted dual machine guns turret, a nose-mounted anti-tank gatling gun, four air-to-air missiles, two large anti-tank bombs, two anti-tank bombs with detachable warheads, and two bomb racks with three bombs each.
 Other Versions
The mold used for the Cobra Rattler was reused in 1988 to make the "Tiger Rat" as part of the G.I. Joe special missions force "Tiger Force" (with pilot "Skystriker"), in 1997 as the "A-10 Thunderbolt" (with pilots "Ace" and "General Hawk"), and once again in 2002 as the "Cobra Rattler" with pilot "Wild Weasel." Each new version has included a new paint job and new pilots. The 2002 model also included slight modifications to include electronic sound.
Also, the "Rattler" name has also been used for a 1998 repaint of the Cobra "Stinger" Jeep.