Douglas A-1 Skyraider
I'd Rather Be Flying From Hangar 18
in the...
Douglas A-1 Skyraider
(Featuring some of the Ol'Kunnel's favorite airplanes!)

Douglas A-1 Skyraider-Great Planes Documentary [GO!]

    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.

Thumbnail List
  1. An A-1J of VA-176 loaded with ordnance for a mission in Vietnam in 1966.
  2. An AD-4 Skyraider taking off from USS Princeton (CV-37) during the Korean War
  3. A Marine AD-5 of the Korean skies in the 1950s
  4. AD-6s In formation.
  5. VC-33_NAS_Atlantic_City_NAN6-55
  6. A VC-35 Navy Skyraider parked.
    The Skyraider was developed to take the place of the Dauntless dive-bomber and was to be come the last heavy single-seat piston-engine combat aircraft. For over twenty years the Skyraider stayed in first-line service with units of the US Navy and gave ample proof of its usefulness in tow wars -- the Korean War and the Viet-Nam War, proving unbeatable as a ground attack plane. From 1945 to 1957 the assembly lines built 3,180 aircraft in seven basic versions.
     All of these versions could be adapted for four main uses: day assault, all-weather assault, radar surveillance and electronic counter-measures. These uses were indicated by a special letter in the designation: N for all-weather version; W for radar surveillance; Q for ECM. For the assault version, no extra letter was added. Hence, the AD-6 was an assault Skyraider.
    The single-seat AD-6 Skyraider was used in the Viet-Nam War by the US Navy and the Marine Corps, the USAF, and by the air force of the Republic of Viet-Nam. France and Britain were among the other countries which used this aircraft, apart from many lesser powers which kept the ADs in service until the second half of the 1970s.

Engine: Wright R-3350-26W Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled radial, 2,700 horse power
Wingspan: 50 feet
Length: 39 feet 2 inches
Height: 15 feet 8 inches
Weight: 25,000 pounds (loaded)
Maximum speed: 322 mph at 18,000 feet
Ceiling: 28,500 feet
Range: 1,143 miles
Armament: 4 each 20mm cannon; 8,000 pounds bombs
Crew: 1
03/20/2017 1622
...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
03/20/2017 1617
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