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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

United States (1956)
Picture of Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
Picture of Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft Picture of Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk naval jet fighter saw decades of service worldwide with nearly 3,000 aircraft produced.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 7/4/2018. 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.

The A-4E Skyhawk model stood as a vast improvement over previous models and served the US Navy featuring an overall heavier airframe but a Pratt & Whitney J52 powerplant. A successive model for the US Navy, the A-4F, proved to be the last model and featured further improvements on the A-4E, most notably the avionics-housing "hump" visible in the image above just behind the cockpit and running along the dorsal spine of the fuselage.

The United States Marine Corps took orders for the "Ultimate Skyhawk" in the A-4M Skyhawk II. This model featured an all-new enlarged canopy for improved pilot visibility. It also featured an increased MTOW capacity (nearly double of what the base A-4 could do) allowing for an additional array of weaponry to be fitted. The A-4M model was fitted with an even more powerful J52-P-408 powerplant that increase range and overall speed.

Export figures were decent, with Argentina becoming the initial customer. Others would soon follow including Israel, Malaysia, Kuwait, Brazil and Singapore. In the end, the A-4 Skyhawk proved its worth with decades of faithful service to the United States with the Navy and the Marine Corps both putting the aircraft through a rigorous pacing. The single powerplant was more than suitable for the role that the A-4 was designed to fulfill and the diminutive size when compared to other carrier aircraft was a good fit for carrier storage.


Picture of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
Picture of the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft



Any available statistics for the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (645mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II (Super Skyhawk)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2960
2960


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1956
Type: Light Attack Multirole Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): McDonnell Douglas - USA
Production: 2,960
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Argentina; Australia; Brazil; Indonesia; Israel; Malaysia; New Zealand; Singapore; United States (retired)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Douglas A-4M Skyhawk II (Super Skyhawk) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
40.26 ft


Meters
12.27 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
27.49 ft


Meters
8.38 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
14.99 ft


Meters
4.57 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
10,465 lb


Kilograms
4,747 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
24,504 lb


Kilograms
11,115 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408 non-afterburning turbojet developing 11,200 lb of thrust (standard).

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
645 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,038 kph


Knots
560 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,001 mi


Kilometers
3,220 km


Nautical Miles
1,739 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
38,698 ft


Meters
11,795 m


Miles
7.33 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
10,300 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
3,139 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-radar/anti-radiation missile
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an air launched nuclear weapon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Graphical image of an aircraft external fuel tank
Armament - Hardpoints (5 (including fuselage centerline)):

STANDARD, FIXED:
2 x 20mm internal cannons in wing roots.

OPTIONAL:
Mission-specific weapons included any of the following:

AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles
AGM-12 Bullpup air-to-surface missiles
AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missiles
AGM-45 Shrike anti-radiation missiles
AGM-62 Walleye glide bombs
LAU-10 rocket pods
B43, B57 and B61 nuclear bombs
Rockeye Mk 7 (cluster), Rockeye II Mark 20 (cluster) and Mark 80 drop bombs.
3 x 370 gallon jettisonable fuel tanks.

Maximum ordnance loads of up to 9,155lb (4,155 kg) across five external hardpoints.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• XA4D-1 - Prototype Designation of which nine produced.
• A4D-1 - Initial Production Models pre-1962 reorganization.
• A-4A - Initial production model post-1962 designation; 166 examples completed.
• A-4B - Reinforced airframe; air-to-air capability added; improved avionics; AGM-12 Bullpup missile support; 542 examples completed.
• A-4C - Adverse weather variant with AN/APG-53A radar; powered by Wright J65-W-20 engine of 8,200lb thrust; 638 examples produced.
• A-4E - Refined variant; heavier airframe; powered by Pratt & Whitney J52 engine.
• A-4F - Final USN variant with fuselage "hump" housing additional avionics equipment.
• A-4M "Skyhawk II" - USMC variant with enlarged canopy for increased visibility; increased MTOW; more powerful J52-P-408 engine.
• TA-4F - Two-seat USN trainer Variant
• A-4P - Argentine Air Force export model
• A-4Q - Argentine Air Force export model
• A-4AR "Fightinghawks" - Argentine Air Force export model based on A-4M; 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 Zealand export model with upgraded HUD, avionics, twin-CRT displays and HOTAS.
• T/A-4KU - Kuwaiti export model (resold to Brazil).