Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the older Douglas AD Skyraider later redesignated A-1 Skyraider. The tail is of cruciform design , with the horizontal stabilizer mounted above the fuselage. Its spars were machined from a single forging that spanned across both wingtips. Similarly the main undercarriage did not penetrate the main wing spar, designed so that when retracted only the wheel itself was inside the wing and the undercarriage struts were housed in a fairing below the wing. Thus the wing structure was lighter with the same overall strength. The rudder was constructed of a single panel reinforced with external ribs.
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Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the older Douglas AD Skyraider later redesignated A-1 Skyraider. The tail is of cruciform design , with the horizontal stabilizer mounted above the fuselage. Its spars were machined from a single forging that spanned across both wingtips. Similarly the main undercarriage did not penetrate the main wing spar, designed so that when retracted only the wheel itself was inside the wing and the undercarriage struts were housed in a fairing below the wing.
Thus the wing structure was lighter with the same overall strength. The rudder was constructed of a single panel reinforced with external ribs.
This obviated the need for access doors with their hinges and latches further reducing weight and complexity. This is the opposite of what can often happen in aircraft design where a small weight increase in one area leads to a compounding increase in weight in other areas to compensate, creating a demand for more powerful, heavier engines, larger wing and empennage area, and so on in a vicious circle.
This allows the aircraft to supply others of the same type, reducing the need for dedicated tanker aircraft—a particular advantage for small air arms or when operating in remote locations.
This allows for greatly improved operational flexibility and reassurance against the loss or malfunction of tanker aircraft, though this procedure reduces the effective combat force on board the carrier.
A designated supply A-4 would mount a center-mounted "buddy store", a large external fuel tank with a hose reel in the aft section and an extensible drogue refueling bucket. This aircraft was fueled up without armament and launched first.
Attack aircraft would be armed to the maximum and given as much fuel as was allowable by maximum takeoff weight limits, far less than a full tank. They could then sortie with both full armament and fuel loads. The A-4 was rarely used for refueling in U.
Thermal cockpit shield for nuclear weapons delivery The A-4 was also designed to be able to make an emergency landing, in the event of a hydraulic failure, on the two drop tanks nearly always carried by these aircraft.
Such landings resulted in only minor damage to the nose of the aircraft which could be repaired in less than an hour. The Navy issued a contract for the type on 12 June ,  and the first prototype first flew from Edwards Air Force Base , California on 22 June United States[ edit ] The Skyhawk proved to be a relatively common United States Navy aircraft export of the postwar era.
Due to its small size, it could be operated from the older, smaller World War II-era aircraft carriers still used by many smaller navies during the s. These older ships were often unable to accommodate newer Navy fighters such as the F-4 Phantom II and F-8 Crusader , which were faster and more capable than the A-4, but significantly larger and heavier than older naval fighters.
Trainer versions of the Skyhawk remained in Navy service, however, finding a new lease on life with the advent of "adversary training", where the nimble A-4 was used as a stand-in for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG in dissimilar air combat training DACT. The last U. Navy Skyhawks, TA-4J models belonging to the composite squadron VC-8, remained in military use for target towing, and as adversary aircraft, for combat training at Naval Station Roosevelt Roads.
These aircraft were officially retired on 3 May Skyhawks were well loved by their crews for being tough and agile. These attributes, along with their low purchase and operating cost as well as easy maintenance, have contributed to the popularity of the A-4 with American and international armed forces.
Besides the U. Skyhawks were the U. Navy light attack role. Skyhawks carried out some of the first air strikes by the US during the conflict , and a Marine Skyhawk is believed to have dropped the last American bombs on the country. In the early to mids, standard U. Navy A-4B Skyhawk squadrons were assigned to provide fighter protection for anti-submarine warfare aircraft operating from some Essex-class U.
The A-4B model did not have an air-to-air radar, and it required visual identification of targets and guidance from either ships in the fleet or an airborne Grumman E-1 Tracer AEW aircraft. Lightweight and safer to land on smaller decks, Skyhawks would later also play a similar role flying from Australian, Argentinean, and Brazilian upgraded World War II surplus light ASW carriers, which were unable to operate most large modern fighters.
Captain Walsh ejected safely and was the last U. Marine to be taken prisoner during the war. He was released as a POW on 12 February Although the first A-4Es were flown in Vietnam in early , the A-4Cs continued to be used until late A Zuni rocket misfired, striking an external tank on an A Fuel from the leaking tank caught fire, creating a massive conflagration that burned for hours , killing sailors, and injuring The U.
Navy lost A-4s, the U. The TA-4J served as the advanced jet trainer in white and orange markings for decades until being replaced by the T Goshawk.
The Instrument RAGs initially provided jet transition training for Naval Aviators during the time period when Naval Aviation still had a great number of propeller-driven aircraft and also provided annual instrument training and check rides for Naval Aviators. The assigned TA-4J models were installed with collapsible hoods so the aviator under training had to demonstrate instrument flying skills without any outside reference.
At the time, the F-4 Phantom was just beginning to be exploited to its full potential as a fighter and had not performed as well as expected against the smaller North Vietnamese MiG and MiG opponents. The slats were fixed. The squadrons eventually began to display vivid threat type paint schemes signifying their transition into the primary role of Adversary training. To better perform the Adversary role, single-seat A-4E and F models were introduced into the role, but the ultimate adversary Skyhawk was the Super Fox, which was equipped with the uprated JP engine.
The last A-4 fleet operators were VC-8, which retired its Skyhawks in Many of the aviators that flew the four jets were attached to NAS Dallas, including the Commanding Officer of the air station. Note the extended tailpipe. Israel was the largest export customer for Skyhawks.
The Skyhawk was the first U. Starting in , Israel purchased A-4s, plus another 46 that were transferred from U. Skyhawks carried out bombing missions in the Yom Kippur War, and a considerable proportion of the tactical sorties. Later modifications included the avionics hump and an extended tailpipe, implemented in Israel by IAI. The extended tailpipe gave greater protection against heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles.
Marine Corps. The different model Skyhawks carried out bombing missions in the Yom Kippur War, and a considerable proportion of the tactical sorties.
The IAF also operated two-seat models, for operations as well as advanced training and retraining. The first training models arrived in , with the first batch of Skyhawks. The Skyhawks have been replaced by Fs in combat roles but are still used for pilot training.
A-4 Skyhawk jets are among those being offered. The retirement ceremony took place at Hatzerim IDF base. The A-4AR was in service between the late s and when the majority of the fleet was grounded for serviceability and age. A small number of airframes remained in service for limited roles. Three aircraft were lost to accidents. The A-4Qs were finally retired in When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the available Skyhawks flew attack missions against the advancing Iraqi forces from deserted roads after their bases were overrun.
Twenty-four of the 29 A-4KUs that remained in service with Kuwait 36 had been delivered in the s escaped to Saudi Arabia. These aircraft were acquired in two batches of 10 Skyhawks in and , and were primarily used to provide air defence for the fleet.
Six were former RAN A-4G airframes  which as carrier aircraft had logged significantly fewer flying hours. Soon, most of them were scrapped. The A-4 served the Indonesian Air Force from until While in service, they suffered from frequent maintenance issues and a high accident rate.
Brazil[ edit ] As of , Brazil was the latest Skyhawk customer. The aircraft were selected by Brazil because of low flight time, excellent physical condition, and a favorable price. Minas Gerais was decommissioned and retired that year. This upgrade will restore the operating capacity of the Navy 1st Intercept and Attack Plane Squadron.
The program includes restoring the aircraft and their current systems, as well as implementing new avionics, radar, power production, and autonomous oxygen generating systems. Embraer stated the modifications will allow the aircraft to remain operational until Two AF-1Bs were delivered in and a further two of undisclosed type are to be delivered in It is believed that despite the loss of its only carrier, the Navy wants to retain the experience of carrier-based operations, and thus will not rescind the contract outright.
Discovery upgraded and modified the jets to be capable of Electronic Warfare training.
Douglas A-4B/Q Skyhawk