Model Airplane News
October, 1954

Model Airplane News Cover for October, 1954 by Jo Kotula McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

McDonnell-Douglas A-4 "Skyhawk"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for October, 1954
by Jo Kotula
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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft designed for the United States Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The delta winged, single turbojet-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by Douglas Aircraft Company, and later McDonnell Douglas. It played key roles in the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, and the Falklands War. Some of the nearly 3,000 Skyhawks produced remain in service with several air arms around the world, including active duty on the aircraft carrier São Paulo of the Brazilian Navy.

 Ed Heinemann Design Patent No. D-177,500 for the McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk      Ed Heinemann Design Patent No. D-177,500 for the McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Ed Heinemann's Patents for the McDonnell-Douglas A-4 "Skyhawk" Design Patent No. D-177,500
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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 AD 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. It had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The diminutive Skyhawk soon received the nicknames "Scooter", "Kiddiecar", "Bantam Bomber", "Tinker Toy Bomber", and, on account of its nimble performance, "Heinemann's Hot-Rod".

The McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk      The McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

McDonnell-Douglas A-4 "Skyhawk"
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The A-4 pioneered the concept of "buddy" air-to-air refueling. This allows the aircraft to supply others of the same type, eliminating the need of dedicated tanker aircraft—a particular advantage for small air arms or when operating in remote locations. A designated supply A-4 would mount a center-mounted "buddy store", a large external fuel tank with a hose reel 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. Once airborne, they would then proceed to top-off their fuel tanks from the tanker using the A-4's fixed re-fueling probe on the starboard side of the aircraft nose. They could then sortie with both full armament and fuel loads.

The Skyhawk remained in production until 1979, with a total of 2,960 aircraft built, including 555 two-seat trainers.[9]. The last production A-4, an A-4M issued to a Marine squadron (VMA-223) had the flags of all nations who had operated the A-4 series aircraft painted on the dorsal avonics 'hump'.

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