McDonnell-Douglas A-4C Skyhawk I

McDonnell-Douglas A-4C Skyhawk I

Douglas Aircraft’s famed designer Ed Heinemann designed the Navy A4D Skyhawk to replace the propeller driven AD-5 Skyraider. It was built small so that more could be accommodated on a carrier, where it excelled as the lightweight high-speed bomber for the U.S. Navy and Marines. It is a maneuverable, powerful, attack bomber with great altitude and range capabilities, plus and unusual flexibility in armament capacity. The small plane bucked the trend to ‘bigger is better’; it offered a powerful punch, serving as the Navy’s primary light bomber in the Vietnam era. One of its advantages in carrier service is its delta wing was so compact it didn’t require a folding mechanism.

Fleet delivery began in September 1957. The A4Ds were redesigntated as A-4s in 1962. The Skyhawk’s combat career began when it became the first American carrier- launched aircraft to raid North Vietnam on August 4, 1964. The aircraft would see heavy combat throughout the war. John McClain would be shot down while piloting one over Hanoi and spend five years as a P.O.W. The later A-4F Skyhawk II served as the aircraft for the famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team from 1974 to 1986.

A total of 638 night/all-weather capable A4D-2N Skyhawks (A-4C after 1962) were manufactured. Our aircraft, BuNo 148503 was built in El Segundo, CA as the 348th of this variant. A total of 2,960 A-4s of all variants were produced.

The Museum’s A-4 flew with the Navy in Southeast Asia, remaining active through the 1970s. In the late 1980s the plane was transferred to the Naval Air Maintenance Training Detachment School in Memphis, TN. There it served as a training aide for Naval Aviation specialists.

The aircraft was acquired by the Aerospace Museum in 2006. The aircraft is painted to represent the “Blue Angels” number “2” airplane, which flies the ‘right wing’ position. A Marine pilot, who earned Navy “Wings of Gold” by successfully graduating from the Navy’s flight training program, always flies the #2 aircraft. Volunteers from the Aerospace Museum of California restored this aircraft in 2006.


Crew: One

Powerplant : Skyhawk I , One Wright J65-W-20, 8,200 lbf thrust in,

Skyhawk II , One Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408 turbojet rated at 11,200 lbf

Dimensions :

Wing span – 27 ft 6in

Length – 40 ft 4 in Height – 15 ft 0 in.

Weight: Empty – 10,800 lbs; Normal take-off 24,500 lbs


Max speed with 4,000 lb bomb load – 561 mph, top speed – 646 mph.

Range: 2,000 miles.

Armament: Two 20 mm cannon in wing roots; provisions for several hundred variations of

armament loads including bombs, missiles, ground attack pods, torpedoes, and countermeasures equipment.

Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved - Aerospace Museum of California A 501(c)(3) Organization - TIN 94-2831253
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