The Ol'Kunnel started this addition to Hangar 18 based on an article in the Washington Post Magazine, September 17, 2000. It was sent to him by his good friend, Red Gambrell, who is well aware of his interest in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM). The article was written by Bob Thompson and logically explains how we got where we are in this year 2000 since the invention of powered flight by the Wright Brothers. It is a well-written document and recommended for reading by all your devotees to flying.
Just about every aircraft discussed in the article has a representative in the Ol'Kunnel's Hangar 18. One exception being the A-4 Skyhawk which was suggested to me by the article. Bob Thompson included the photograph of the specimen seen above with the caption "A Douglas A-4C Skyhawk, in the 'sea-air operations' gallery, is one of the few reminders that there even was a war in Vietnam." Well, you'll just have to read the article to get the real meaning behind that caption. (Note: The F4B-4 hanging in the upper left corner of the photograph. The SBD is just above it and it will be a new addition to Hangar 18 in the near future.)
The development of the Skyhawk began in the 1950s with a request from the Navy for a close support fighter to replace the obsolescent Douglas Skyraider. (The so-called obsolete AD6 was brought back during the Vietnam war but that is another page and story.) A number of variations of the prototype ending with version A4D-5, having a more powerful engine, improved avionics, increased range with greater armament capacity entered service with the Navy as the A-4A, B, C and A-4E. Another variant of the 1970s was the A-4M (Skyhawk II) which had its first flight on April 10, 1970, built exclusively for the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps A-4 Skyhawk is a lightweight, single engine attack aircraft. The mission of an A-4 attack squadron is to attack and to destroy surface targets in support of the landing force commander, escort helicopters, and conduct other operations as directed. Developed in the early 1950s, the A-4 Skyhawk was originally designated the A-4D as a lightweight, daylight only nuclear capable strike aircraft for use in large numbers from aircraft carriers. There are numerous models of the A-4 in use. The A-4M and the TA-4F are currently used by Marine Corps Reserve squadrons. All models have two internally mounted 20mm (.8 inch) cannons, and are capable of delivering conventional and nuclear weapons under day and night visual meteorological conditions. The A-4M uses a heads-up display and computer aided delivery of its bomb load with the angle rate bombing system. The Marine Reserve has two squadrons of A-4s with 12 aircraft each. Additionally, each squadron has two TA-4 aircraft.
- Engine: Pratt and Whitney J52-P-6 turbojet, 8,500 pounds thrust.
- Wingspan: 27 feet 6 inches.
- Length: 40 feet 1 inch.
- Height: 15 feet 2 inches.
- Weight: 24,500 pounds (loaded).
- Maximum speed: 685 miles per hour at sea level.
- Ceiling: 49,000 feet.
- Range: 920 miles.
- Armament: two 20-mm cannon; 8,200 pounds of bombs.
- Crew: 1 pilot.
- Photograph by Chad Slattery of Naval Aviation Museum specimen.
- Tailhook out; long legs reaching for the deck.
- McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II.
- A-4M rockets.
- The A-4 Skyhawk prototype.
- A Blue Angels A-4 formation.
- Visit the Skyhawks Organization!
- On the Ramp; roar to go!
- Dropped first and last bombs of Vietnam War.
- Suffered 380 aircraft losses [276 combat] and 47 POW losses in Vietnam.
- Set 500 km closed-coursespeed record [695.163 mph] in 1955.
- Nicknamed Heinemann's Hot Rod after chief designer Ed Heinemann; also Soot, Bantam Bomber, Tinker Toy, Might Mite, Camel, Skyhog, Vulture [Israel], Chickenhawk [Australia].
- Equipped with thermal cockpit shield for nuclear operations.
- Carried special belly tanks designed to save airframe in a wheels-up landing.
- Boasted roll rate of 720 degrees per second.
- Saw combat with air forces of Kuwait, Israel, Argentina.
- Used as stand-in for MiG-17 in dissimilar air combat training.
- Featured in movie "Top Gun," 1986.
AIR FORCE Magaxine, September 2010
While holed up in my hotel room avoiding Hurricane Francis, I put together a video of the A4C Skyhawk flying during the Vietnam conflict. This may be viewed By Clicking Here!
I hope it will be enjoyed by the aviation buffs out there!
Best regards, Bob H.