What happened to Raspberry Pi 2- and 3- Model A?
Basically they never got arround to making them.
Is there a major distinguishable difference between A and B models independent of the generation?
The "B" models have the USB hub with Ethernet chip while the "A" models do not. Therefore A models only have a single USB port and no Ethernet port. A models also have less ram than contemporary non-legacy B models.
A quick history of regular A/B Pi models (not zero or compute module).
Raspberry pi borrowed the terms "model A" and "model B" from the BBC Micro. The BBC model B was the "full-spec" version while the BBC model A" was a cut-down model with half the ram and many of the interfaces missing, but still built on the same PCB.
So it was with the originally announced raspberry pi models. The model B as originally announced and released had 256MB of ram. It also had two USB ports and an Ethernet port provided by a LAN9512 USB hub with Ethernet chip. The model A was announced as a cheaper model with only 128MB of ram, a single USB port and no Ethernet, so it could skip the relatively expensive LAN9512.
The Raspberry pi B was released first as that was deemed to be the more useful model for early adopters and developers. This was followed by the "catestrophic unplanned success" which tied up most of the Raspberry pi teams efforts for a while.
So the model A ended up being released over a year after the model B. By that time the ram had been increased to 256MB for the model A and 512MB for the model B. They had also added two holes to the PCB that were officially not mounting holes but everyone used them as such anyway.
Then came the B+, with it's extended GPIO header, two extra USB ports (enabled by replacing the LAN9512 with a LAN9514) and four proper mounting holes in sensible positions. The A+ followed bringing the GPIO and mounting improvements to an A model Pi. Unlike the original model A which shared the same PCB as the model B the A+ had a dedicated smaller PCB.
Then came the 2B with a doubling of ram and a quad-core A7. A 2A was mooted, but they never got around to making it. I understand that this is because by the time they had got over the problem of dealing with 2B demand the raspberry pi 3 was well on it's way. They did however quietly increase the ram on the A+ to 512MB.
And then came the 3B with it's cortex A53 and 2.4GHz wifi, again a 3A was mooted but never actually came out. Again I understand this was a case of by the time they had dealt with demand the 3B+ was already well on it's way.
Then came the 3B+ with it's improved power and thermal management, faster Ethernet and dual-band wifi and then finally they got around to producing the 3A+.