Douglas A-1 Skyraider
The Douglas A-1 Skyraider (formerly AD) is an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. The Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career; it became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after the French World War I fighter.
It was operated by the United States Navy (USN), the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Air Force (USAF), and also saw service with the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force, the Air Force of the Republic of Vietnam (VNAF), and others. In U.S. service, it was finally replaced by the LTV A-7 Corsair II swept wing subsonic jet in the early 1970s.
The piston-engined Skyraider was designed during World War II to meet United States Navy requirements for a carrier-based, single-seat, long-range, high performance dive/torpedo bomber, to follow-on from earlier types such as the Helldiver and Avenger. Designed by Ed Heinemann of the Douglas Aircraft Company, prototypes were ordered on 6 July 1944 as the XBT2D-1. The XBT2D-1 made its first flight on 18 March 1945 and in April 1945, the USN began evaluation of the aircraft at the Naval Air Test Center (NATC). In December 1946, after a designation change to AD-1, delivery of the first production aircraft to a fleet squadron was made to VA-19A.
The AD-1 was built at Douglas' El Segundo plant in Southern California. In his memoir The Lonely Sky, test pilot Bill Bridgeman quotes a production rate of two aircraft per day, describing the routine yet sometimes hazardous work of certifying AD-1s fresh off the assembly line for delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1949 and 1950.
The low-wing monoplane design started with a Wright R-3350 radial engine, later upgraded several times. Its distinctive feature was large straight wings with seven hard points apiece. These gave the aircraft excellent low-speed maneuverability, and enabled it to carry a large amount of ordnance over a considerable combat radius and loiter time for its size, comparable to much heavier subsonic or supersonic jets. The aircraft was optimized for the ground-attack mission and was armored against ground fire in key locations unlike faster fighters adapted to carry bombs, such as the Vought F4U Corsair or North American P-51 Mustang, which were retired by U.S. forces before the 1960s.
Shortly after Heinemann began design of the XBT2D-1, a study was issued that showed for every 100 lb (45 kg) of weight reduction the takeoff run was decreased by 8 ft (2.4 m), the combat radius increased by 22 mi (35 km) and the rate-of-climb increased by 18 ft/min (0.091 m/s). Heinemann immediately had his design engineers begin a program for finding weight-saving on the XBT2D-1 design, no matter how small. Simplifying the fuel system resulted in a reduction of 270 lb (120 kg); 200 lb (91 kg) by eliminating an internal bomb bay and hanging the bombs, drop tanks and rockets from the wings or fuselage; 70 lb (32 kg) by using a fuselage dive brake; and 100 lb (45 kg) by using an older tailwheel design. In the end, Heinemann and his design engineers found over 1,800 lb (820 kg) of weight savings on the original XBT2D-1 design.
- An A-1J of VA-176 loaded with ordnance for a mission in Vietnam in 1966.
- An AD-4 Skyraider taking off from USS Princeton (CV-37) during the Korean War
- A Marine AD-5 of the Korean skies in the 1950s
- AD-6s In formation.
- A VC-35 Navy Skyraider parked.
...As you know I was in Vietnam from February '66 until December '68 and the boys I liked to see drop by were those AD6 Skyraiders; they could stay over the target much longer than the jet jockeys and really did a pounding when we were pined down hard. These were the boys that dropped 75% of the napalm back in my days and were quite a welcome sight to my men on the ground. These are the only photos I could find of them, maybe you have some Navy Pilots in your list that could give you some good pictures.
Dave - The PalletMaster
Video: Douglas A1 Skyraider View It!