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  • Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft

    The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk naval jet fighter saw decades of service worldwide with nearly 3,000 aircraft produced.

     Updated: 5/5/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The A-4 Skyhawk (nicknamed "Heinemann's Hot Rod" and the "Scooter") came about as a private venture when the Douglas corporation was seeking to replace the aging AD Skyraider (A-1 Skyraider) piston-engine aircraft. The successor to the A-1 was originally another piston-engine alternative known by the designation as the A-2D Skyshark, but powerplant issues shelved the project altogether. During this time, the A-4 Skyhawk was already in development as a small, lightweight jet-powered attack aircraft to which the US Navy took a fair amount of interest in.

    Ed Heinemann was the chief designer of the A-4 Skyhawk while working at Douglas, which led to the development of nine Skyhawk prototypes designated as the XA4D-1 - the first of which flew on September in 1956. From there, the Pratt & Whitney J65-powered craft would go into full operational production as the A-4A Skyhawk.

    The Pratt & Whitney powerplant was a British-designed and licensed Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet. The system was capable of producing over 8,000lbs or standard thrust (no afterburner was integrated to the engine) and the base powerplant could be found on the initial three A-4's - the A, B and C models.

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    Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II (Super Skyhawk) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1956
    Type: Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): McDonnell Douglas - USA
    Production Total: 2,960

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 40.26 feet (12.27 meters)
    Width: 27.49 feet (8.38 meters)
    Height: 14.99 feet (4.57 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 10,465 lb (4,747 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 24,504 lb (11,115 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408 non-afterburning turbojet developing 11,200 lb of thrust (standard).

    Maximum Speed: 645 mph (1,038 kph; 560 knots)
    Maximum Range: 2,001 miles (3,220 km)
    Service Ceiling: 38,698 feet (11,795 meters; 7.33 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 10,300 feet-per-minute (3,139 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 20mm Cannons (in wing roots)

    Mission-specific weapons may include any of the following:

    AIM-9 Sidewinder
    Bullpup Air-to-Surface Missile
    AGM-65 Maverick Air-to-Surface Missile

    Max ordinance for the A-4 Skyhawk is reported to be 9,155lbs (4,155 kg).

    Global Operators / Customers

    Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States of America.

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    XA4D-1 - Prototype Designation of which nine produced.

    A4D-1 - First Production Models




    A-4E - Improved throughout; Heavier airframe powered by a Pratt & Whitney J52 powerplant.

    A-4F - Final Navy Version Skyhawk featuring noticeable "hump" on airframe spine housing additional avionics equipment.

    A-4M Skyhawk II - United States Marine Corps Version featuring enlarged canopy for increased visibility, increased take-off weight and more powerful J52-P-408 powerplant.

    TA-4F - Two-seat Navy trainer Variant

    A-4P - Argentinian Export Model

    A-4Q - Argentinian Export Model

    A-4AR "Fightinghawks" - Argentinian Export Model based on A-4M variant with updated avionics, HUD system and ARG-1 radar system.

    A-4H - Israeli Export Model based on A-4E variant.

    A-4N - Israeli Export Model based on A-4M variant.

    A-4S - Singapore Export Model

    A-4K - New Zeland Export Model with upgraded HUD, avionics, twin-CRT displays and HOTAS.

    T/A-4KU - Kuwaiti Export Model (sold to Brazil and stationed on Sao Paulo aircraft carrier).