Photos Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, The Venerable "Scooter"


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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a single-seat subsonic carrier-capable light attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps in the early 1950s. The delta-winged, single turbojet engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later by McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated A4D under the U.S. Navy's pre-1962 designation system.

The Skyhawk is a relatively lightweight aircraft, with a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 pounds (11,100 kg), and has a top speed of 670 miles per hour (1,080 km/h). The aircraft's five hardpoints support a variety of missiles, bombs, and other munitions. It is capable of carrying a bomb load equivalent to that of a World War II–era Boeing B-17 bomber, and can deliver nuclear weapons using a low-altitude bombing system and a "loft" delivery technique. The A-4 was originally powered by the Wright J65 turbojet engine; from the A-4E onwards, the Pratt & Whitney J52 engine was used.

Skyhawks played key roles in the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, and the Falklands War. Sixty years after the aircraft's first flight in 1954, some of the 2,960 produced (through February 1979) remain in service with the Argentine Air Force and Brazilian Naval Aviation.
The Scooter is one of my all time favourite aircraft, it was a regular sight during my time in the RAN, seeing that nimble little fighter flying between the masts after an attack run-in was a sight to behold! Although in RAN service they were known as "Shitducks", a play on the word Skyhawk

A U.S. Navy Douglas A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo 151194) from Attack Squadron 164 (VA-164) "Ghost Riders" en route to a target in North Vietnam on 21 November 1967. VA-164 was assigned Attack Carrier Air Wing 16 (CVW-16) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) for a deployment to Vietnam from 16 June 1967 to 31 January 1968. The aircraft was piloted by Cmdr. William F. Span, executive officer of VA-164 and was armed with six Mk 82 500 lb (227 kg) bombs and two AGM-12 Bullpup missiles. The A-4E 151194 is today on display at Pacific Coast Air Museum, California (USA), painted in the colours of Marine Attack Squadron 131 (VMA-131) "Diamondbacks".
The Douglas XA4D-1 prototype, USN Bureau number 137812, first of 2,960 Skyhawk fighter-bombers. It first flew on 22 June 1954.

The second production Douglas A4D-1 Skyhawk, Bureau number 137814, in flight circa late 1954 or early 1955. This plane still exists, mounted on a pole in the center of a roundabout at the China Lake NAWC, California, USA.

A Wright J65 engine is rolled into a Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk by U.S. Marines of Marine Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 12 (H&MS-12) at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. 1959

A Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk (BuNo 144919) of attack squadron VA-81 Crusaders, Carrier Air Group Eight (CVG-8) about to launch from the port forward catapult of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59) in 1962. In the same year the A4D-2 was redesignated A-4B, VA-81 was renamed Sunliners on 3 April 1963, and CVG-8 was redesignated Attack Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) on 20 December 1963. The aircraft is carrying a AGM-12 Bullpup missile on the centerline station.
A Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk (BuNo 145006) of Attack Squadron 83 (VA-83) "Rampagers" is refueling a Vought F8U-1P Crusader (BuNo 146829) of Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron 62 (VFP-62) Det.42 "Fighting Photos". Both squadrons were part of Carrier Air Group 8 (CVG-8) aboard the carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59) in the early 1960s

A4D-2 145006 crashed 17 km (10 mi) astern of the USS Forrestal on 16 November 1962. The pilot was killed in this accident. The F8U-1P 146829 crashed on 7 November 1962. The pilot ejected.
A Douglas A-4E Skyhawk of USN attack squadron VA-44 Hornets showing the thermal shield in different positions. The device was to be used after the delivery of a nuclear weapon, so that the pilot would be protected against the flash of the detonation. It is known that during the Lebanon crisis in 1958 Skyhawks of VA-83 Rampagers aboard the USS Essex (CVA-9), and of VA-34 Blue Blasters aboard the USS Saratoga (CVA-60) were armed with nuclear weapons and standing by for any upcoming 'emergency'.
A U.S. Navy Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk of Training Wing 3 (TW-3) waits behind the blast deflector for its turn at the catapult as another Skyhawk clears the flight deck of the auxiliary aircraft landing training ship USS Lexington (AVT-16) during pilot carrier training in the Gulf of Mexico, 1 April 1989.

Douglas A-4F Skyhawk 154983 of the Blue Angels USN aerobatic team at NAS Pensacola in 1975
Two Douglas A-4C Skyhawk (BuNos. 149551 and 149570) of Attack Squadron 146 (VA-146) "Blue Diamonds" fly past the anti-submarine aircraft carrier USS Kearsarge (CVS-33). VA-146 was deployed as part of Carrier Air Wing 14 (CVW-14) on board the USS Constellation (CVA-64) to the Western Pacific and Vietnam from 5 May 1964 to 1 February 1965. Planes of CVW-14 took part in the August 1964 strikes against North Vietnamese PT-boat bases as a result of the Tonkin Gulf Incident. Aircraft BuNo. 149551 was later converted to the A-4L standard and in 1982 sold to Malaysia as a A-4PTM. USS Kearsarge, with assigned Carrier Anti-Submarine Air Group 53 (CVSG-53), was deployed to the Western Pacific an Vietnam from 19 June to 16 December 1964.

A U.S. Navy Douglas A-4E Skyhawk attacking a train in North Vietnam with a Zuni rocket.
U.S. Navy Douglas A-4F Skyhawk of Attack Carrier Air Wing 21 (CVW-21) are parked on the flight deck of the attack aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19), armed for a mission over Vietnam on 25 May 1972. Skyhawks NP-501 (BuNo 155046), -505 (BuNo 154996), and -510 were assigned to Attack Squadron 55 (VA-55) "Warhorses", NP-316 to VA-212 "Rampant Raiders", NP-412 and NP-416 to VA-164 "Ghost Riders". The aircraft are armed with Mk 82 (500 lb/227 kg) and Mk 83 (1000 lb/454 kg) bombs. CVW-21 was assigned to the Hancock for a deployment to Vietnam from 7 January to 3 October 1972.

A pair of U.S. Navy McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk aircraft of composite fighter squadron VFC-13 Saints, Reserve Carrier Air Wing 30 (CVWR-30), taxi to the runway prior to an air combat maneuvers training mission against aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17) on 14 June 1993 at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada (USA). The A-4F nearer to the camera is BuNo 155034 which was retired to AMARC as 3A0755 on 29 March 1994.
A-4N 340 of the Israeli Air Force, dusk June 26, 2008, Hatzerim AFB

Israeli Air Force A-4F Skyhawk on display

A-4Hs awaiting disposal in 2009 following their retirement
Argentine Navy A-4Q 0655/3-A-202 in 2007

A Fuerza Aérea Argentina (Argentine Air Force) Douglas A-4C Skyhawk from IV Brigada Aérea during the Falklands War at Mendoza-El Plumerillo Air Base. Note the silhouette of a British Type 42 destroyer painted on the aircraft. However, the only Type 42 destroyer, HMS Coventry (D118), was sunk the day after this photo was taken.

Argentina Air Force Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk, 2005

A-4AR Fightinghawk of the Argentinian Air Force, 2006

Some 16 McDonnell Douglas A-4KU Skyhawk aircraft of the Kuwaiti Air Force are serviced on a flight line in preparation for a mission during Operation Desert Storm on 13 Feb 1991
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Douglas A-4K Sykhawk (s/n NZ6201) from No. 75 Squadron on the flight line at Clark Air Base, Philippines, during the air combat training exercise "Cope Thunder '83-1" on 1 November 1982. The A-4K NZ6201 was produced with the U.S. Navy BuNo 157904. Completed on 10 November 1969, it arrived in Auckland (New Zealand) on 17 May 1970 aboard the USS Okinawa (LPH-3). It was finally retired at Woodbourne (NZ) for stoarage on 17 December 2001.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Douglas A-4K Skyhawk aircraft (s/n NZ6205) from No. 75 Squadron during the joint Australia/New Zealand/US exercise "Pitch Black '84" on 22 April 1984 at RAAF Darwin, Northern Territories (Australia).
Discovery Air A-4, 2015

A former U.S. Navy Douglas A-4B Skyhawk (BuNo 142833) in the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. This A-4B is painted in the colours it wore when it was assigned to Attack Squadron VA-95 Green Lizards, Attack Carrier Air Wing 10 (CVW-10). It operated from the USS Intrepid (CVS-11) off Vietnam from 4 April to 21 November 1966.
A U.S. Navy Douglas A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo 149495) of attack squadron VA-113 Stingers landing on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) in March 1966. VA-113 was assigned to Attack Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the Kitty Hawk for a deployment to Vietnam from 19 October 1965 to 13 June 1966. During that deployment, the A-4C 149495 was lost after having been damaged by flak over North Vietnam on 20 April 1966. The pilot, Lt.(jg) Harry G. Welch, could fly back to the Kitty Hawk but had to eject and was rescued.

A McDonnell Douglas TA-4F Skyhawk (BuNo 153491) of Attack Squadron VA-164 Ghost Riders. VA-164 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 21 (CVW-21) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in the early 1970s. Two TA-4Fs were assigned to VA-164 as laser designator aircraft for laser guided bombs dropped by the squadron's A-4Fs.
A Royal Australian Navy Douglas A-4G Skyhawk lands on the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) in 1980. This Skyhawk was originally delivered to the U.S. Navy as A-4F BuNo 155063. It served in Vietnam on the USS Ranger (CVA-61) with attack squadron VA-155 Silver Foxes from 26 October 1968 to 17 May 1969 (Attack Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2)/NE-416), and on the USS Hancock (CVA-19) with VA-212 Rampant Raiders from 02 August 1969 to 15 April 1970 (CVW-21/NP-4XX). 155063 was then delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in August 1971 as A-4G N13-155063, No. 876. It was unloaded from HMAS Sydney onto RAN lighter AWL 304 at Jervis Bay on 11 August 1971, then transported by road to the RAN base Nowra. It served with RAN fighter squadron VF-805 starting on 13 May 1974. "876" was deployed on board HMAS Melbourne for the "Spithead Deployment" from 28 April to 04 October 1977. There, it took part in exercise "Highwood" from 5 to 20 July 1977 in the North Sea. Other exercises included "Tasmanex '79", "Kangaroo 3", and "Sandgroper '80" (25 August - 5 September 1980) off the Western Australian coast. "876" was withdrawn from RAN service on 30 June 1983 and stored for sale. In July 1984 it was delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as NZ6217, designated A-4K. It received the "Kahu"-upgrade and was retired by the RNZAF in 2001/2002.
A Douglas A-4KU Skyhawk embarked on the Brazilian aircraft carrier Sao Paulo (A12) performs a touch and go landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on 8 June 2004 during the "Summer Pulse 2004" exercise in South American waters. In 1997 Brazil negotiated a $70 million contract for purchase of twenty A-4KU and three TA-4KU Skyhawks from Kuwait. These were refurbished and redesignated AF-1 and AF-1A in Brazilian Service. They are operated by the Brazilian Navy fighter squadron VF-1 Falcões (Hawks)
A Douglas A-4L Skyhawk (BuNo. 148578) of attack squadron VA-203 Blue Dolphins, stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville (Florida, USA), in 1970.

A McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk (BuNo 159483) of Marine attack squadron VMA-332 "Fighting Gamecocks" parked on the flight line at Naval Air Station Dallas (Texas, USA) on 1 Feb 1988.

Members of Marine Aircraft Group 32 (MAG-32) service a McDonnell Douglas OA-4M Skyhawk aircraft (BuNo 154306) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (North Carolina, USA) on 24 May 1990. 154306 had been built as a TA-4F trainer and been converted to a forward observation aircraft in 1979. 23 TA-4Fs were converted. The modifications included a ground control bombing system, a KY-28 secure voice system, a canted midair refuelling probe, extra cockpit side armor plating, an APN-194 altimeter, and ARC-159 radio and ARC-114 VHF radio. Perhaps the most visible change was the fitting of the dorsal electronics hump. Correctly the aircraft should have been designated OA-4F, as they were converted from TA-4F aircraft and not from A-4M aircraft. Aircraft BuNo 154306 was retired to the AMARC as 3A0600 on 24 April 1991.

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