Douglas A-4 Skyhawk (Kiddiecar "1954")

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a single-seat subsonic carrier-capable light attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps in the early 1950s.

Douglas A-4 Skyhawk "1954"

Role Attack aircraft, fighter, aggressor aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
McDonnell Douglas
First flight 22 June 1954; 66 years ago
Introduction 1 October 1956; 64 years ago
Retired USMC (1998), U.S. Navy (2003)
Israeli Air Force (2015)
Status In limited service with non-U.S. users
Primary users United States Navy (historical)
United States Marine Corps (historical)
Israeli Air Force (historical) Argentine Air Force
Produced 1954–1979
Number built 2,960
Variants Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk


The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a single-seat subsonic carrier-capable light attack aircraft.

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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk "1954"

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a single-seat subsonic carrier-capable light attack aircraft developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps in the early 1950s. The delta-winged, single turbojet engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later by McDonnell Douglas. It was originally designated A4D under the U.S. Navy’s pre-1962 designation system.

The Skyhawk is a relatively lightweight aircraft, with a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 pounds (11,100 kg), and has a top speed of 670 miles per hour (1,080 km/h). The aircraft’s five hardpoints support a variety of missiles, bombs, and other munitions. It is capable of carrying a bomb load equivalent to that of a World War II–era Boeing B-17 bomber, and can deliver nuclear weapons using a low-altitude bombing system and a “loft” delivery technique. The A-4 was originally powered by the Wright J65 turbojet engine; from the A-4E onwards, the Pratt & Whitney J52 engine was used.


Operational History

The Skyhawk was designed by Douglas Aircraft’s Ed Heinemann in response to a U.S. Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the older Douglas AD Skyraider (later redesignated A-1 Skyraider). Heinemann opted for a design that would minimize its size, weight, and complexity. The result was an aircraft that weighed only half of the Navy’s weight specification.[3] It had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The first 500 production examples cost an average of $860,000 each, less than the Navy’s one million dollar maximum. The diminutive Skyhawk soon received the nicknames “Scooter”, “Kiddiecar”, “Bantam Bomber”, “Tinker Toy Bomber”, and, on account of its speed and nimble performance, “Heinemann’s Hot-Rod”. The XA4D-1 prototype set a world speed record of 695.163 mph on 15 October 1955.

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Douglas A-4M Skyhawk (1954)

Top Aces, formerly Discovery Air Defense Services, a private Canadian company contracted by the Canadian Forces, Australian Defence Forces, and Bundeswehr to provide air combat and fighter training, imported and registered ten A-4N and TA-4J aircraft. Discovery upgraded and modified the jets to be capable of Electronic Warfare training.[third-party source needed] Top Aces also operates A-4Ns under contract for training of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr).[82][83] Another major civil user of A-4s for training support to military forces is US-based Draken International, which operates ex-New Zealand A-4Ks as part of a diverse fleet of jets. A-4s have previously been operated in the target support role in Germany by Tracor Flight Systems.


  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 40 ft 1.5 in (12.230 m)
  • Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 2 in (4.62 m)
  • Empty weight: 9,853 lb (4,469 kg)
  • Gross weight: 16,216 lb (7,355 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,500 lb (11,113 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A turbojet engine, 8,500 lbf (38 kN) thrust
  • Maximum speed: 585 kn (673 mph, 1,083 km/h) at sea level
  • Range: 1,008 nmi (1,160 mi, 1,867 km)
  • Ferry range: 2,194 nmi (2,525 mi, 4,063 km)
  • g limits: +8 -3
  • Rate of climb: 5,750 ft/min (29.2 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 62.4 lb/sq ft (305 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.526 

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