A4- SKYHAWK - History

A4- SKYHAWK - History



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A4E Skyhawk

Manufacturer: Douglas

Engines: 1 Pratt &Whitney J52 P-8A

Speed: 674MPH

Range: 2000 miles

Ceiling: 42,700

Weight: 24,500lbs (max)

Wingspan: 27ft 6 inch

Length: 38ft 4 inch

First Flight: 6/22/54


Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

For nearly half a century, the A-4 Skyhawk was one of the most important ground attack aircraft of the US Navy and Marine Corps. The US Marine Coprs stopped using this type of aircraft in 1998, while the US Navy in 2003. However, it still remains a part of Brazilian and Argentinean Air Force.

The Skyhawk made its maiden flight in 1954 and two years later, in 1956, it was adopted by the US military. Since then, there were about 2 960 aircraft built, mainly by the Douglas Aircraft Company, but later also by their daughter-company McDonnell Douglas, before it merged with Boeing.

In its half-a-century-long history, the Skyhawk saw a lot of action. In the early stages of the Vietnam War, the US Navy used them as primary light attack aircraft. Israel, who is was the biggest buyer of this aircraft, employed them in combat during the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, mostly as ground attack aircraft. Skyhawks were also used in the Falklands War by the Argentinean Army and were a part of Kuwaiti Air Force during the Operation Desert Storm.

Apart from the United States the A-4 Skyhawk was a used by air arms of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

The reason why this lightweight aircraft was widely used by many countries, is that it could carry a wide variety of rockets and bomb, including the nuclear bomb. It the early years of Skyhawk production, this attack aircraft was much more advanced than many of its direct competitors. However today the A-4 Skyhawk is outdated. It i is not at the same level with modern light attack aircraft. Because of that, a vast majority of surviving units are used as training aircraft. Israeli Air Force used it for training since 2008, when they withdrew it from frontline duty, until 2015. Singapore still uses the Skyhawks as advanced trainer aircraft, same as Argentina, a country that also uses them as fighter jets.

The variant used by Argentinean Air Force is a Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk. It is an upgraded version of A-4 Skyhawk. This upgrade has been applied to ex-USMC Skyhawks that were acquired by Argentina in 1997. Under a Lockheed Martin-developed programme, 32 single-seat A-4Ms and 4 two-seat OA-4Ms were rebuilt to A-4AR and OA-4AR Fightinghawk standard. Modernization included a complete overhaul of the airframe, new radar, advanced cockpit displays, HUD, HOTAS controls and other equipment. Its ARG-1 radar is a downgraded version of the F-16 APG-66 radar and allows the use of smart armament. This version features a more powerful engine (50 kN compared to 41 kN), better radar, jammers, etc. Out of the total of 36 Argentinean Fightinghawks, 3 were lost to accidents.

Possibly the last customer of the A-4 Skyhawk was Brazil. In 1998 Brazilian Navy acquired 20 ex-Kuwaiti A-4KUs, in order to put them on board of their Sao Paulo aircraft carrier (ex-French Navy Foch, acquired in 2000). In 2015, these Brazilian attack aircraft were repaired and upgraded.


XA4D-1 (XA-4A)

On June 12, 1952, the U.S. Navy contracted with Douglas Aircraft Company of El Segundo, California, to build one prototype XA4D-1 Skyhawk attack aircraft.

In October 1952, after review of the proposed design, the Navy ordered an additional 19 A-4s.

Literally "hand built," XA4D-1, BuNo 137812, was the first of an eventual 2,960 Skyhawks to roll off the Douglas Aircraft Company assembly line. Powered by a Curtiss-Wright J65-W-16A engine, it had a one-piece windscreen, no tailhook or refueling probe, and the "sugar scoop" exhaust baffle was not yet conceived.

The first Skyhawk flight, flown by Douglas test pilot Robert Rahn, took place at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 22, 1954. Bob Rahn comments on first Vortex Generators: "..disqualifying feature of the prototype was an erratic and abrupt wind drop either to the right or left of about 30 degrees. We tried eleven different vortex generator patterns before we settled on an arrangement featuring one row on the leading edge slat and one row just in front of the aileron. A vortex generator in the configuration for the Skyhawk was a small piece of aluminum about one inch long and one-half inch high. There were 37 on each wing. Their function was to smooth out the air flow. The addition of 74 globs of metal certainly didn't enhance the beauty of the airplane but they did the job."

Gary Verver, China Lake: "Some A’s did not have any vortex generators at all, they were added at some point in the production cycle. BuNo 137817 appears to have vortex generators on the slat, but not on the wing. BuNo 152853 clearly shows vortex generators on the slat (12 on the slat + 2 outboard of them on the wing) and the 23 on the wing ahead of the aileron. AND then there were those little fins on the fuselage, here and there, on some of the A and B model. The port side of 137813, and in another photo of 137813 they also appear to be on the starboard side as well. Both port and starboard locations are just forward of the fuselage break-point.

Wing Lights from Gary Verver: "The wing lights on the A were outboard and flush with the wing surface. Think that also was the case for the early production runs for the B and it changed to lights mounted in the leading edge of the wing outboard of the slats with the later production runs as I recall.

Most production features of later Skyhawks were installed and tested on 137812 during its lifetime, which explains various photographs of the aircraft displaying differing features.

Pilots called the Skyhawk: "Heinemann's Hot Rod" The "Scooter" and The "Tinkertoy" ("Tink" for short). This plane enjoyed the longest production run of any tactical aircraft in the history of aviation, about 25 years! The Skyhawk's contribution to the conflict in South-east Asia is well documented. Top Gun Instructors flying the Skyhawk "whupped" everything in the sky - including Tomcats, Phantoms, Crusaders, Hornets and Vipers. And it all started with this aircraft, the XA4D-1 prototype.


Contents

During the late 1950s the Australian Government and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) considered options to replace the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, and her air group. While Melbourne had only been commissioned in 1955, the de Havilland Sea Venom fighters and Fairey Gannet maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) were becoming obsolete. It was believed that Melbourne was too small to operate more modern aircraft types, and the RAN investigated options to buy a larger carrier. The Government judged that the cost of a new aircraft carrier was too high, especially given the expense of the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) procurement programs at that time, and in November 1959 it was announced that the FAA would cease to operate fixed-wing aircraft in 1963. [1] As a result of intervention by the Minister for the Navy, Senator John Gorton, the Government eventually agreed to purchase new fixed-wing aircraft. Gorton had served as a fighter pilot in World War II and had a strong interest in his portfolio. In 1961 Gorton convinced the Cabinet to fund a program to reinvigorate the FAA, starting with the purchase of 27 Westland Wessex anti-submarine helicopters. [2] At this time it was planned to retain Melbourne as a helicopter carrier, but in mid-1963 the Government gave the Navy permission to retain the Sea Venoms and Gannets in service until at least 1967. [3] In June 1964, Minister for Defence Senator Shane Paltridge rejected a proposal from the Navy to purchase an Essex-class aircraft carrier from the United States Navy, [4]

During July 1964, Melbourne hosted flight trials of A-4 Skyhawks and Grumman S-2 Trackers, during a visit to US Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines. [4] The Skyhawk was a particularly light and compact attack plane, with a wing small enough to not require a folding mechanism. [5] American Trackers had previously flown off the carrier during exercises in 1957, and the Royal Canadian Navy had also successfully trialled Skyhawks from Melbourne 's sister ship HMCS Bonaventure. The trials conducted at Subic Bay went well, and confirmed that Melbourne would need only minor modifications to safely operate both types of aircraft. [4] In late 1964 the RAN sought the Government's approval to upgrade Melbourne and purchase a force of 18 Skyhawks and 16 Trackers. The Skyhawks were intended to be used to provide air defence for the fleet as well as to attack warships and targets on land. While the Naval Board [Note 1] saw maritime strike as being a logical task for the FAA, the RAAF argued that the 24 General Dynamics F-111C aircraft it had ordered would be more effective in this role. Cabinet agreed to the proposal to modernise the carrier and acquire Trackers in November 1964, but delayed a decision on the Skyhawks at that time. [4] Following further lobbying and staff work by the Navy, the Government eventually agreed to purchase ten Skyhawks in early 1965 for a cost of £9.2 million. [7] This order comprised eight single-seat fighter aircraft and a pair of two-seat TA-4 Skyhawk trainers. [8] These aircraft were the first newly built Skyhawks to be sold to a country other than the United States. [9] [Note 2]

The Australian Skyhawks, which were designated the A-4G, were a variant of the A-4F Skyhawk. The A-4F was the final single-seat version of the Skyhawk to be designed specifically for the US Navy, and first flew in 1966 164 were eventually delivered. [11] It had a more powerful engine than that fitted to earlier Skyhawks, as well as better protection against ground fire. [11] [12] Conversely, the A-4G did not have the distinctive "hump" containing avionics behind the cockpit of the A-4F (which earned the nickname "Camel"). The A-4G was also better suited to air combat and had the ability to carry AIM-9B Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, [11] while lacking the A-4F's ability to launch guided air-to-ground weapons. [13] Two-seat TA-4G trainers were fitted with the same avionics and weapons as the single-seat aircraft, but were unable to be operated from Melbourne, as their flight characteristics meant that they could not safely take off from the ship in the event of a "bolter" landing. [8] [13]

The 10 Skyhawks were delivered to the RAN during 1967. The first A-4G test flight took place on 19 July that year, and the initial TA-4G first flew two days later. [13] On 26 July, an A-4G and a TA-4G were handed over to the RAN at a ceremony conducted at McDonnell Douglas' factory at Long Beach, California. In October that year, Melbourne sailed to the United States to pick up the Skyhawks and Trackers, with the A-4s being embarked at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. The carrier transported these aircraft back to Jervis Bay, New South Wales, from where they were unloaded and moved by road to the Navy's air station at HMAS Albatross near Nowra. After completing this task Melbourne proceeded to Sydney to begin a refit that would prepare her to operate the new air group. [8]

A further ten A-4Gs were purchased in 1969. The aircraft were funded by cancelling plans to expand the Navy's force of Oberon class submarines from six to eight boats this change was justified on the grounds that it would improve the effectiveness of the carrier and expand the FAA's strike capabilities. [7] As with the first order, this purchase comprised eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs. The Skyhawks were former US Navy A-4Fs, and were modified to A-4G standard before being delivered to Australia. These aircraft were collected from San Diego by HMAS Sydney in July 1971, which delivered them to Jervis Bay the next month. [8] [14]

The Australian Skyhawks retained their US Navy serial numbers, but were also allocated shorter "buzz" numbers painted near their nose. The first batch of A-4Gs were allocated buzz numbers 882 to 889, and the second batch were assigned 870 to 877. The first two TA-4Gs were 880 and 881, and the second pair 878 and 879. [15] [16]

Royal Australian Navy Edit

RAN Skyhawk operations began in 1968. On 10 January that year 805 Squadron was recommissioned at HMAS Albatross to operate the type from Melbourne. Skyhawk flight training started later that month, with six experienced pilots being instructed by a US Navy officer and two other Australian pilots who had previously been posted to the United States to qualify as instructors. [17] Shortages of spare parts disrupted flying activities for much of the year, and the first course graduated in mid-December 1968 rather than May as had been originally planned the shortages were largely the result of the US Navy prioritising deliveries to its forces fighting in Vietnam over the needs of the RAN. [18] [19] The A-4Gs first operated at sea in November 1968, when they landed on board the British carrier HMS Hermes while she was visiting Australia. [20]

The Australian Government considered deploying pilots from 805 Squadron to fight in Vietnam during 1967 and 1968. On 12 May 1967, the Naval Board recommended to the Government that six Skyhawk pilots and their ground crew be offered to the US Navy during May the next year after these personnel had completed their training on the new aircraft. This decision was motivated by a desire to keep the pilots gainfully occupied while Melbourne completed her refit, and would not involve deploying the A-4Gs as they lacked the weapons systems and avionics needed to counter North Vietnamese air defences. [21] As part of the initial consideration of this option, the Minister for Air suggested that the Australian Skyhawks could be sent to Ubon Air Force Base in Thailand to relieve the CAC Sabre-equipped No. 79 Squadron RAAF stationed there, but such a deployment was found to be impractical. [22] The Government's Defence Committee [Note 3] subsequently recommended that FAA fighter pilots be attached to a United States Marine Corps (USMC) unit stationed at Chu Lai Air Base and conduct combat missions over South Vietnam. While the USMC Skyhawk units frequently attacked targets in North Vietnam, the FAA aircrew were to be prohibited from joining these operations as the Government had previously decided to restrict Australia's war effort to South Vietnam. This plan was announced by Prime Minister Harold Holt in October 1967 as part of a package of Australian reinforcements to the war effort in Vietnam. [24] In the event, the deployment did not proceed as the delays to 805 Squadron's initial Skyhawk conversion course meant that the pilots were not ready until after Melbourne re-entered service. The Navy assessed that it would not be possible to both man a fighter squadron on the carrier and post pilots to Vietnam, and delaying the reactivation of Melbourne ' s air group could lead to criticism of the Skyhawk acquisition. In February 1969 the Minister for Defence directed that no further consideration was to be given to sending naval fighter pilots to Vietnam. [25]

The RAN's jet aircraft operational conversion unit, 724 Squadron, was also equipped with Skyhawks during 1968. By December of that year the squadron was operating a mixed fleet of TA-4G Skyhawks, de Havilland Sea Vampires and Sea Venoms from Albatross. [26] The Skyhawk conversion courses conducted by this unit lasted for six months, and involved a total of about 110 hours of flying in TA-4Gs and A-4Gs. During this period pilots became familiar with flying the type and practised combat missions as well as air-to-air refuelling from other Skyhawks using buddy fuel tanks. They were also required to complete about 100 simulated carrier landings at Albatross before landing a Skyhawk on board Melbourne. [27]

After Melbourne ' s refit was completed, the ship put to sea with Skyhawks in 1969. At this time her air group typically comprised four Skyhawks from 805 Squadron, six S-2 Trackers operated by 816 Squadron and eight of 817 Squadron's Wessex anti-submarine helicopters. The mix of aircraft carried varied from time to time. [28] During the late 1960s and 1970s Melbourne made regular deployments throughout the Pacific region to exercise with the Royal Navy and US Navy. [29] In May 1972, 805 Squadron's strength was increased to eight Skyhawks, and it temporarily operated with ten of the type during Exercise Kangaroo in May 1974. [30] A-4Gs were embarked on board the carrier when she visited the United Kingdom in 1977 to participate in the Jubilee Fleet Review, and one of the Skyhawks also took part in that year's Royal International Air Tattoo. [13] Melbourne underwent major refits between December 1970 and August 1971, mid-1975 to June 1976 and from July 1978 to February 1979. During the periods the carrier was under refit her air group operated from Albatross. [29] Melbourne was the smallest carrier to regularly operate Skyhawks. [9]

The A-4Gs operated in several roles while embarked on board Melbourne, and also took part in training exercises from air bases around Australia. While their main role was to provide air defence for the carrier and other warships using Sidewinder missiles and cannon, the Skyhawks lacked the manoeuvrability needed to be effective fighters, and had relatively poor performance at high altitude. [31] [9] The A-4Gs carried "dumb" bombs and rockets in the ground attack and maritime strike roles as they were unable to operate guided weapons. The aircraft could also be fitted with a D-704 buddy pod aerial refuelling system, which allowed them to refuel from one another in flight, as well as 150 or 300 gallon capacity drop tanks to extend their range. At this time the A-4Gs were the only Australian military aircraft capable of in-flight refuelling. [32] The Skyhawks' long range and ability to carry a large weapons load meant that they proved more successful in air-to-ground roles than as air defence fighters. [31] While 724 Squadron did not deploy on board the carrier, it took part in training exercises with other RAN units as well as elements of the Australian Army. [33] A particularly important task for the squadron was supporting the work-up of RAN warships by acting as targets in this role Skyhawks were often deployed to RAAF Base Laverton in Victoria and RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia. [34] [16] 724 Squadron also formed a Skyhawk-equipped aerobatics team called the Checkmates. [33]

From the mid-1970s the RAN investigated options to replace Melbourne and her air group. During 1977 the Navy sought tenders for an aircraft carrier capable of operating Harrier Jump Jets and helicopters. In February 1982 the Australian Government reached an agreement to purchase HMS Invincible from Britain the following year. As a result of this deal, Melbourne was decommissioned on 30 June 1982, followed by 805 and 816 Squadrons on 2 July. All of the remaining ten Skyhawks were assigned to 724 Squadron, which continued to operate from Albatross. [35] The sale of Invincible to Australia was cancelled in mid-1982 as a result of the Falklands War, and in March 1983 the new Hawke Government decided to not replace Melbourne. In May that year the Government also announced that the disbandment of the FAA's fixed-wing force would be brought forward as the RAN no longer needed such aircraft. [36] Six of the A-4Gs were taken out of service on 30 June 1983, and the other four were retained for target towing, radar and weapon calibration duties, and other fleet support tasks. While some consideration was given to using the Skyhawks in the close air support role, it was decided to retire the type. The last Australian A-4G flights took place on 30 June 1984. [37]

Royal New Zealand Air Force Edit

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) had purchased a fleet of 14 A-4K Skyhawks in 1970. These aircraft were a variant of the A-4E, and were used mainly in the close air support role. By the early 1980s they were becoming outdated, and lacked the air-to-air and advanced air-to-ground capabilities identified as requirements for the RNZAF in the 1983 Defence Review. [38] [39] Two of the A-4Ks had been destroyed in flying accidents and the remaining twelve aircraft fleet was not considered a viable force. [40]

During the early 1980s the RNZAF considered options to replace or upgrade its A-4Ks. A team of senior RNZAF personnel visited France, the United Kingdom and the United States to assess new aircraft, and the New Zealand Government released a tender in May 1982 seeking proposals to upgrade the Skyhawks. [40] After the decision was made to disband the RAN's fighter force, the Australian Government offered the ten surviving A-4Gs and spare parts for these aircraft to New Zealand for $NZ40 million. [40] The Cabinet of New Zealand gave the RNZAF authority to begin formal discussions of this deal on 5 September 1983. A team of Air Force personnel inspected the A-4Gs at Albatross in November that year and judged that they were in generally good condition. [41] The commander of the RNZAF, Air Vice-Marshal David Crooks, favoured purchasing the A-4Gs and then upgrading the entire A-4 fleet over the alternative of buying new aircraft, as this option was the cheapest way to improve the Air Force's capabilities. [40] He recommended to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon that the deal be taken up, and a decision to acquire the aircraft was made in May 1984. [42] As part of the purchase agreement, the New Zealand Government committed to return one of the Skyhawks to Australia for display after the type was retired from service. [43]

The eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs were ferried from Nowra to RNZAF Base Ohakea in three groups from July 1984. While they received minor modifications (at a total cost of $NZ2.7 million) and new serial numbers before entering service with the RNZAF, the aircraft retained the A-4G designation at this time. [40] [44] All of the A-4Gs were initially assigned to No. 2 Squadron RNZAF, which was reformed on 11 December 1984 as an operational conversion and training unit. [45] [46] The spare parts sold with the A-4Gs greatly increased the RNZAF's stocks, and were calculated to be worth about $NZ30 million at commercial rates. [47]

In order to address the shortcomings of the RNZAF's Skyhawk fleet, the New Zealand Government approved the Project Kahu program in May 1985. [48] This project had a total cost of NZ$140 million, and primarily involved upgrading the A-4G and A-4Ks' avionics to almost the standard of those fitted to the modern General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon. [49] The Skyhawks also received new wings drawn from the stock of spare parts purchased from the RAN in 1984. [50] Work began on the first aircraft in 1986, and the program was completed in 1991. [51] After receiving the Kahu upgrade package the A-4Gs were re-designated A-4Ks. [44]

From 1990 until 2001, No. 2 Squadron was stationed at HMAS Albatross, where it operated four A-4Ks and two TA-4Ks and trained alongside the Australian Defence Force several former Australian aircraft were among those serving with No. 2 Squadron during this period. [50] [52] The RNZAF continued to operate Skyhawks until 13 December 2001, when both of its fighter squadrons were disbanded. [53] In 2012 eight of the A-4Ks were sold to Draken International to provide training support for the US military six of these aircraft were former A-4Gs. [54] [55] [56] The remaining nine A-4Ks were donated to museums. [57]

In April 2011, the New Zealand Government returned TA-4K N13-154911 (880 in RAN service and NZ6255 in RNZAF service) to Australia. The Skyhawk had served with 724 Squadron from 1967 until 1984, and was flown back to Australia in April 2012 within one of the RAAF's Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transports. [58] [59] [60] This aircraft is currently displayed at the RAN's Fleet Air Arm Museum. Since November 1999 a former American A-4B (142871) was first displayed as A-4G 885 (154906) and from 2007 as A-4G 882 (154903) at this museum. [61] [62] [63] [64]

Ten of the twenty A-4Gs were lost during the type's service with the RAN. This gave the Skyhawk a poor safety record, but the high loss rate was at least partially attributable to the intrinsic dangers involved in operating from an aircraft carrier. [32] [65] Two pilots were killed in these accidents. [65]

Four Skyhawks were destroyed in accidents during the mid-1970s. The first A-4G to be lost was 873, which crashed into the sea off Williamtown, New South Wales, on 5 June 1973 due to an engine failure its pilot ejected and was rescued by a RAAF helicopter. On 8 November that year Melbourne suffered a catapult failure while launching 889 near Singapore, and the aircraft landed in the sea in front of the carrier. While Melbourne sailed directly over the downed Skyhawk, its pilot managed to free himself and was picked up by a helicopter. The next loss took place on 16 May 1974 when TA-4G 879 crashed into the sea while conducting a practice attack on Melbourne off the south coast of New South Wales, killing the pilot. On 16 May the next year 870 and 872 collided while flying near Jervis Bay 872 crashed, resulting in the death of its pilot, but 870 managed to return to Albatross. [65]

The other six A-4G losses occurred during 1979 and 1980. On 23 January 1979, 870 suffered an in-flight turbine failure and crashed near Braidwood, New South Wales its pilot was rescued by a RAAF helicopter. On 23 May that year 888 ran off the flight deck of Melbourne after an arrester wire snapped during a landing near Jervis Bay. Its pilot, a US Navy exchange officer, survived. On 24 September 1979, 886 rolled over the side of the carrier while being moved along the flight deck in heavy seas an FAA ground crewman who was sitting in the cockpit at the time managed to escape after the aircraft hit the water and was rescued by the destroyer HMAS Hobart. The next loss occurred on 28 April 1980 when the engine of TA-4G 878 failed while it was preparing to land at HMAS Albatross. The pilot of this aircraft ejected safely and was rescued by a RAN helicopter. On 2 October that year 875 crashed into the sea near Sumatra, when its engine failed while being launched from Melbourne its pilot ejected and was rescued. The final loss occurred on 21 October 1980, when 885 crashed into the sea as a result of a catapult failure the pilot was picked up by a Wessex. [65]

Two of the former A-4Gs were also lost during their service with the RNZAF. On 16 February 2001, NZ6211 (882 in Australian service) crashed near Nowra while practising an aerobatic manoeuvre with another Skyhawk its pilot, who was also the commanding officer of No. 2 Squadron, was killed instantly. The last former A-4G to be lost was TA-4K NZ6256 (the former 881), which crashed into the Indian Ocean off Perth, Western Australia, on 20 March 2001. Its pilot ejected and survived. [66] [67]


A-4E Skyhawk #151194 History

Dates:Assigned To:Location:
Dec 1964Acceptance date at Long Beach, CA
1-2-65 to 2-28-65VA 164Lemoore
2-28-65 to 11-28-65NAS Cubi Point
1-28-65 to 1-10-66VA 164Aboard USS Constellation
1-10-66 to 4-29-66VA 56Aboard USS Ticonderoga #22
4-29-66 to 6-9-66VA 56Lemoore
6-9-66 to 8-5-66VA 56Aboard USS Enterprise
8-5-66 to 5-18-67VA 192Lemoore
5-18-67 to 6-16-67NAS Sugi CostaSugi Costa
6-16-67 to 9-29-67VA 212Aboard USS Bon Homme Richard #3
9-29-67 to 6-11-68VA 164Aboard USS Handcock
6-11-68 to 6-18-68VA 164Fallon NV
6-18-68 to 4-21-69VA 44Cecil Field
4-21-69 to 2-18-72VA 127Lemoore
2-18-72 to 10-76VC 1Barbers Point
10-76 to 3-77VC 1North Island
3-77 to 8-77VC 1Pensacola
8-77 to 3-79VC 2Oceana
3-79 to 9-79MARTD Willow GroveWillow Grove
9-79 to 8-80HMS 49 DT Willow GroveWillow Grove
8-80 to 8-81HMS 49 DT Willow GrovePensacola
8-81 to 9-84HMS 49 DT Willow GroveWillow Grove
9-84 to 9-87MAG 49 DT Willow GroveWillow Grove
9-87VC 12Oceana

Note: Aggressor squadron markings on top of vertical stabilizer, Red Star.
Note: “VMA-131” on aircraft – not listed above.


Faced with an enormous bill to replace obsolete Navy FAA infrastructure, the Australian Government decided in 1959 to disband the Fleet Air Arm’s fixed-wing capability in 1963, and to pay off HMAS Melbourne. But Indonesia’s ties with Moscow and her vast purchase of Soviet military hardware, together with the 1960-62 tensions over Dutch West Papua (Irian Jaya) and 1963-66 Malayan Confrontation were the cause of serious disquiet. Likewise the reach of Indonesian and Chinese strike bombers (see left), and the spread of communist insurgencies dictated a re-think. By 1964 the life of the ageing Gannets and Sea Venoms had been extended for another four years, and the search for replacement aircraft had begun. A fascinating insight into the background thinking can be found here .

But money was tight and the enormous cost of replacing Melbourne was ruled out: so she had to be capable of operating the new generation of aircraft.

Above and Right. The media of the time was full of articles reflecting the Government’s concern about the spread of Communism in the region, either directly though insurgency, or by support to regimes such as Sukano’s Indonesia. The list of aircraft that Australia might buy was quickly narrowed to just two types: the Douglas A4 Skyhawk to provide fighter/bomber capability, and the Grumman Tracker for surveillance and Anti Submarine Warfare. Both were suitable, readily available and relatively cheap – but would they be able to operate from such a small flight deck?

The Government was not prepared to order any aircraft until proving trials had been done. Accordingly, in May of 1958 an S2 Tracker from the USS Philippine Sea operated aboard Melbourne. Further trials were undertaken by two Trackers from Subic Bay in July 1964, and an order was subsequently placed with Grumman for 14 aircraft (plus two instructional airframes). The Skyhawk trial aboard Melbourne occurred on 20 May 1965, when LCDR Charles Ward Jr USN did several touch and goes before arresting aboard (below). His aircraft was from the USS Bennington and confirmed the Skyhawk was able to operate successfully from the small carrier. You can see the YouTube video of the visit here . (Photo Noel Dennett).

Below Left: Petty Officer Ronald M Forbes paints a kangaroo motif onto the fuselage of the USN fighter during its visit to Melbourne, while Naval Airman Joe Galea assists. ‘Branding’ of visiting aircraft was a regular practice. The Skyhawk, from VA113 Squadron, was conducting cross-deck operations trials from USS Bennington during SEATO exercise Sea Horse. Years later this A4 was seen in the Arizona ‘boneyard’ and the kangaroo was still there. (Image AWM).

Above. LCDR “Chas” Ward immediately after making his arrested landing on HMAS Melbourne. Bennington, his mother ship, was itself regarded as a small carrier by USN standards but was still significantly bigger than the Melbourne. It would have been an interesting conversation to listen to, when he returned home.

Above . VADM Allen M. Shinn USN presenting aircraft log packs to RADM G.J. Crabb CBE DFC RAN whilst Mr Donald W. Douglas looks on, as the first two RAN Skyhawks were handed over on 26July67 at the Douglas plant at Long Beach, California. Crabb was Head of the Australian Joint Staff in Washington from Jan 󈨆 to Mar 󈨈, so was ideally placed to accept the documentation. You can see a short video here , unfortunately without sound.

Delivery and Training

The RAN ordered ten brand new A4s, originally to be built as “E” model variants, early in 1964 (see letter below). The finished “G” model lacked the avionics of the USN A4-F, but was fitted to carry up to four Sidewinder missiles. Eight of the ten were single seat fighter-bombers and the remaining two the TA4G training variant, with two seats. The total project cost was reported as $18.4m – relatively cheap for an aircraft of that capability.

The winding back of the FAA in the early 60’s had depleted the number of pilots required for the new aircraft and innovative steps were taken to ramp the numbers up again. This included using a civilian flying club in Victoria for initial assessment and elementary training, and a program at Pensacola (USA) where both fixed and rotary wing pilots were trained. In the meantime, two experienced pilots were sent to Lemoore in California for specific A4 training (see cutting, left). On return to Australia they became the new CO and Senior Pilot of 805 Squadron (newly commissioned for the Skyhawk’s arrival), and set up the Australian A4 training program to qualify additional aircrew. You can read about both the aircrew and maintainer training here .
Below (Left) One of the new Skyhawks being craned aboard Melbourne in San Diego in October of 1967. (see video here ). In addition to the A4s she was to carry 14 Grumman Trackers, two Weapon System Trainers and some 800 tons of stores: enough to fill up both the hangar and flight decks. She cast off on Tuesday 31 October and after brief visits to Pearl Harbor and Suva before shaping course for Jervis Bay. ( Right, and Main Photo below) The A4s were lifted aboard barges in JB and thence taken by low-loaders to HMAS Albatross. Click on the images to enlarge. You can see a video of the unloading here .

Above. A bird’s eye view of the unloading of the Skyhawks in Jervis Bay on 21 November 1967. It was a routine that had been forged with previous aircraft types in the FAA, from the Sea Furies and Fireflies in 1947 though to the Sea Venoms and Gannets some nine years later. The barge pictured in the photographs (AWL 304) was designed specifically to take the aircraft ashore and built at Cockatoo Dock in Sydney under contract 230. The Skyhawks were craned onto the Creswell jetty and manhandled to a nearby mustering point before being loaded onto flatbeds for transit to Albatross. A map (below left) shows the route.

Right: Although she had delivered them, Melbourne was unable to operate her new aircraft: for that, she needed extensive work. On 27Nov67, after unloading the S2s & stores in Sydney, she de-ammunitioned and prepared for a major refit. She was not to go to sea again for another 15 months.

While the aircraft were in transit from the States, the VF805 Squadron Advance Party had been formed under the command of LCDR (P) John Da Costa. The Squadron Diary for that period reported HMAS Melbourne’s arrival in Jervis Bay on 22nd November 1967 and engine and ground runs commencing on 5th December of that year after de-preservation of the aircraft. On 13th December the CO and SP (LCDR King) test flew N13-154911 TA4G. A Sonic Boom, clearly audible at HMAS Albatross, ‘…marked the beginning of a new era for the Fleet Air Arm’. The telegram (left) was received by the new Skyhawk CO about then, from Al Whitton – the Commanding Officer of 725 Squadron with his blue and white Westland Wessex “VTOLs”.

Above. In the meantime, Skyhawk pilot training continued apace, although the first OFT was bedevilled by poor serviceability caused by a lack of spares. By December 1968 the first course had qualified, however, and were able to carry out some deck landings by the fortunate arrival of HMS Hermes in Australian waters.

Right : LCDR John Da Costa, the Commanding Officer of VF805 Squadron, takes the first catapult launch from HMAS Hermes in November 1968. The event was also captured in Navy News ( below – collage courtesy of Phil Thompson). You can see a video of S2s and A4s doing ‘bolters’ on Hermes here .

HMAS Melbourne Refit

Left. In the meantime, HMAS Melbourne continued in refit. It was extensive: the catapult was rebuilt and upgraded, the mainmast rebuilt to cope with new radars and EW equipment living spaces were improved (including fitting air-conditioning), machinery overhauled and additional water distilling capacity fitted. Interestingly, stowage for AVGAS was also installed as the ship would be operating piston-engined aircraft for the first time in her career. She slipped from Woolloomooloo on 06 February 1969 and, under the command of CAPT J.P. Stevenson, proceeded to Jervis Bay for work up and calibration of her new radar and electronics. The ship’s ROP reports that the sea trial that gave the most satisfaction was the successful landing and launching of each aircraft type on 11 February 1969. Melbourne was back in the aviation business, although lingering problems with the catapult, aircraft bridles and other critical infrastructure impeded a smooth work up .
Below. Melbourne’s return to service was marked by a flypast on 14 February 󈨉, during which SMH photographer George Lipman took this striking photograph from the back of a TA4G as the formation positioned itself over Sydney city. You can see a more extensive Navy News feature in a pop-up here .

Melbourne Operational

By the end of April 󈨉 many of the post-refit teething problems had been ironed out and over 1000 fixed wing deck landings completed since refit – an extraordinary figure in such as short space of time (Below right). Early in May she slipped moorings in Sydney for a Far East deployment. It was, regrettably, to be tragically cut short.

Below, Left. One of the few photographs we have seen taken during the ill-fated first tour. Two Skyhawks conduct close formation with a RAF Hawker Hunter out of Tengah (Singapore) in June of 1969. The two A4s had been disembarked from Melbourne by barge to enable essential flying training/continuation to occur whilst the ship undertook emergency repairs following the Frank E. Evans collision of 03Jun69. They were subsequently recovered aboard on 27 June as Melbourne made its way back to Australia for more permanent repairs to the bow. She didn’t leave the dockyard until mid October 1969. Interestingly, the Hunter is now preserved in Brisbane having served in the SAF for a while. After her emergency repairs in Singapore, Melbourne abandoned her Far East deployment to return to Sydney for more permanent repairs. Her Air Group disembarked back to NAS Nowra.

Left. Melbourne’s damaged bow under repair in Sydney. At the same time a new catapult bridle arrester ‘horn’ was fitted, which enabled expensive launching bridles to be captured and used again. She slipped from the dockyard in October and once again entered a workup regime before securing alongside for Christmas. She finally embarked on her Far East tour in March of 1970.

Below. Perhaps testing a plan to be able to embark additional Skyhawks at short notice and in any locality, 805 Squadron dispatched two of them from Nowra to Melbourne on 10 November 1970, whilst the ship was steaming off Fremantle. The flight, which lasted over five hours, broke several records for single-engine jet transits in Australia.

More Skyhawks for the RAN

Right: In July of 1971 HMAS Sydney collected a further ten Skyhawks for transportation to NAS Nowra. Like their predecessors they were craned aboard in San Diego, and offloaded by barge in Jervis Bay for trucking to the air station.

Why Ten More?

The purchase of the initial ten A4s was driven by Government concern over the world geopolitical situation and in particular, by instability in SE Asia and a heightened ‘conflict risk factor’ emerging in the latter half of the 󈨀s.

By 1969 Melbourne was operational with its Skyhawk, Tracker and ASW helicopters, but the instability in our regional area remained. It was decided that, in the event of conflict and the need to engage, Melbourne could swiftly become an attack carrier simply by reducing its ASW aircraft component and boosting the number of Skyhawks. The bargain-basement price for ten second-hand USN airframes helped the decision, many of which had served in Vietnam. The procurement cost was funded by reducing the RAN’s order for British Oberon-class submarines from eight to six.

In the event, the contingency was never used – but it was exercised on at least one occasion when additional A4s from 724 Squadron were embarked for an exercise in the Hervey Bay area off Queensland.

When the second ten airframes arrived (in 󈨋) none of the original batch had been lost – so the RAN had 20 Skyhawks on strength for a while. But from 1973 numbers were gradually whittled away by accidents and by the time the capability was axed, only ten airframes remained.

Above: One of the second batch of Skyhawks is lifted from the barge alongside HMAS Creswell (Jervis Bay) to a waiting truck. The purchase mirrored the previous buy – eight single seat and two dual-seat trainers, but they were second-hand airframes refurbished to A4G standard. Many were from the Vietnam era and had suffered various scars. Interestingly, all four A4G losses attributable to engine failure came from this batch, but the sample is too small to draw firm conclusions.
Left. The date of this photograph by Jack Mayfield isn’t known, but it would have been after 1971 as two of the aircraft shown (874 and 877) were of the second batch of A4 deliveries. Remarkably, all four survived both their RAN and (subsequent) RNZAF service and would go on to lead another life with Draken, many years later. It would be one of the few formation photographs we have seen where that could be said.

First Skyhawk Lost

In June of 1973 the RAN lost its first Skyhawk, when SBLT Tony Der Kinderen experienced ‘loud engine noises’ and flames emitting from his jet pipe. It was the first A4 ejection of the RAN. The aircraft crashed into the sea and was not recovered, but the BOI surmised that 873 had most probably suffered from a shroud failure. (A shroud is essentially the casing around the turbine blades that constrains the hot gases). Der Kinderin was picked up by a Newcastle based RAAF Helicopter and returned to the ship the following day. You can read a little more about 873’s demise here . Right: Tony Der Kinderin talking to CAPT Clark and his Squadron CO, LCDR Callan (Navy image).

The A4G came ready fitted for Air to Air Refuelling (ARF). The first refuelling probes were straight and extended well beyond the nose of the aircraft, but they were later changed to ‘bent’ probes to minimise the risk of fuel ingestion into the starboard engine intake. Below: ‘Hot’ refuels were a common practice, although not so much on the deck of Melbourne. The only way to hot refuel was to plug the fuel hose into the ARF probe, as pictured. In this image the ladder next to the aircraft suggests a pilot change was conducted at the same time. Right: A pilot’s eye view of ARF. With the straight probes it was easy – all pilots had to do was drive the probe into the basket, which was flying in clean air. The bent probes made it more difficult as the pressure wave generated by the aircraft nose tended to push the basket out of the way, which could result in ‘basket chasing’. Instructor doctrine was to line up on a suitable part of the tanker aircraft and only use peripheral vision to watch the basket. (Navy Image). Click on images to enlarge.

The ‘bent’ probes were introduced in the mid 󈨊s and LEUT Evans was tasked to test fly each aircraft after modification to ensure each aircraft remained transonic. In the event they were faster with the new probes and the aircraft easily reached M1.2 (the aircraft’s limit).

Below: Two armourers load, colour coded, live 20mm ammunition into one of the A4G’s ammunition tanks. Right: Armourers checking the six 13kg practice bombs on a PMBR (Practice Multiple Bomb Rack). The bombs were solid steel with fins and a smoke/flash cartridge in the nose, their trajectory was similar to larger bombs.


The Tale Of When A Marine Mechanic Stole An A-4 Skyhawk For A Joyride Over California

In the early morning hours on July 4th, 1986, 21-year-old Lance Corporal Howard A. Foote Jr. climbed a ladder leading into the cockpit of an A-4M Skyhawk. He started the jet up, taxied to one of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro’s runways—which was unlit at the time—and pushed the throttles forward. Moments later, the Lance Corporal would realize his dream to fly a tactical military jet, albeit just once and illegally.

As news reports at the time recount, Foote flew out toward San Clemente Island, executing loops, rolls and high-speed maneuvers before turning back to MCAS El Toro after about 45 minutes to attempt a landing. This time, the runways were all very well lit and the base was buzzing with activity due to his “borrowing” of the jet.

After several landing attempts, the Skyhawk maintainer put the A-4M down safely and was quickly detained after exiting the cockpit.

There was little doubt that the whole stunt was extremely dangerous, but it was also an amazing accomplishment although Foote was no novice to flying. He was an accomplished glider pilot who set world records at a very young age.

Just months prior to his Skyhawk caper, he tried to set a glider altitude record that resulted in an aerial embolism. Due to the nature of this injury, he was told he would never be able to fly for the military. The news crushed him, so he became a fast-jet pilot on his own terms just days later.

The path that got him flying a glider at 41,000 feet, which caused the embolism and eventually commandeering a Skyhawk, was a strange one. Foote befriended the Marine Crops general who commanded MCAS El Toro at a glider base in the Mojave Desert. The General was also a keen glider enthusiast, and Foote was a talented pilot with loads of potential.

The LA Times quotes the young Marine’s father as saying that the General’s influence on his son was not a positive thing:

“Bloomer was a glider pilot enthusiast, and they got to be real pals,” he said. “He got Buddy’s (Howard Foote’s Jr’s nickname) head all turned around, getting him special flying clothes and talking to him about what a real great flier he was and how he was just the person to set a new altitude record. . . . Buddy got hurt doing what the general wanted him to do.”

Apparently, the General Bloomer tried to get the altitude record flight to be a Marine Corps sanctioned event, but he could not get approval. A pressure suit would had likely been provided if he had, which would have made the attempt much safer.

Also speaking to the L.A. Times, the General reflected on what had happened.

“Buddy was a sterling Marine with an unblemished record who had done a lot of things that people a lot older could only dream about doing,” Bloomer said. “I regret that he screwed up a good career.”

The General continued apologetically, “I tried to discourage him because going above 30,000 feet without a pressure suit is dangerous. And he ended up going up to 41,000 feet before the bends forced him to come down.”

“I would encourage him to get a college education,” Bloomer said. “There are a lot of other things he can do in aviation besides being a fighter pilot. He could become an engineer or go into aircraft manufacturing.

General Bloomer retired from his position as the head of MCAS El Toro just days before Foote stole the Skyhawk.

As for Howard Foote Jr.’s perspective on the relationship, he states:

“Like Oliver North, I was given a job to do,” Foote said. “My job was to break [glider] records. Well, I went out and broke records and got hurt doing it. But when I needed a helping hand, none of the people in command would come forward and get me a medical waiver so I could fly [jets].”

Aside from his time in gliders, Foote was also said to have had about 100 hours of A-4 Skyhawk simulator time. With what he knew about the jet in order to maintain it, along with his strong natural flying skills, it was enough for him to pull off the late-night fantasy flight and live to talk about it.

Yet the jet used for the adventure, which belonged to VMA-214 “Black Sheep” at the time, was discovered to have been unsafe for flight. During testimony surrounding the case, it was noted that the jet’s ailerons were out of alignment and that its nose-gear steering was not working properly. Both factors that made Foote’s flight that much more dangerous.

A load of charges were brought against the Lance Corporal, including misappropriating the truck he used to get to the aircraft and the Skyhawk itself, as well as damaging an aircraft and disobeying regulations. He was also charged with hazarding a vessel, flying without proper training or approval and recklessly disregarding the plane’s mechanical condition at the time of flight.

Many of these charges were dropped, but Foote still could have faced nine years of hard labor, forfeiture of all pay, demotion to private and a dishonorable discharge.

In the end, none of this occurred. In November 1986, Foote received four-and-a-half months already served in the brig, and an other-than-honorable discharge from the Marine Corps. It was a remarkably light sentence for such a dangerous and selfish act. But Foote had been a stellar Marine, with absolutely nothing on his record prior to show a pattern of misbehavior or irresponsibility. The General’s influence on him, and his injury in relation to it, was likely factored into the sentence.

After trying to apply to the Israeli Air Force to fly fighters, Howard Foote Jr. went on to become a civilian test pilot and engineer, working on various projects over the years, including a microwave airplane concept and projects for NASA.


A4- SKYHAWK - History

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United States

The Skyhawk proved to be one of the most popular US naval aircraft exports 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 1960s. These older ships were often unable to accommodate newer USN 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.

The US Navy began removing the aircraft from its front line squadrons in 1967, with the last retiring in 1975.

The Marines would pass on the Navy's replacement, the A-7 Corsair II, instead keeping Skyhawks in service, and ordering the new A-4M. The last USMC Skyhawk was delivered in 1979, and were used until the mid-1980s before they were replaced by the equally small, but more versatile STOVL AV-8 Harrier II.

The Diamondbacks of VMA-131,Marine Aircraft Group 49 retired their last four OA-4Ms on 22 June 1994. LtCol. George "Eagle" Lake III (CO), Major John "Baja" Rufo (XO), Captain Dave "Yoda" Hurston and Major Mike "Struts" Volland flew a final official USMC A-4 sortie during the A-4 Standdown Ceremony. 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-17 in dissimilar air combat training (DACT). It served in that role until 1999.

The A-4's nimble performance also made it suitable to replace the F-4 Phantom II when the Navy downsized their aircraft for the Blue Angels demonstration team until the availability of the F/A-18 Hornet in the 1980s. The last US Navy Skyhawks, TA-4J models belonging to composite squadron VC-8, remained in military use for target-towing and as adversary aircraft for combat training at Naval Air Station Roosevelt Roads. They were officially retired on 3 May 2003.

Skyhawks were well loved by their crews for being tough and agile. These attributes, along with its 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 US, at least three other nations used A-4 Skyhawks in combat.

Vietnam War

Skyhawks were the Navy's primary light bomber over both North Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War while the USAF was flying the supersonic F-105 Thunderchief. They would be supplanted by the A-7 Corsair II in the Navy light bomber 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 US bombs on the country. Notable pilots like Lt. (Jg) Everett Alvarez, (Cdr) Hugh Magee, John McCain, and Vice Admiral James Stockdale flew the Skyhawk. On 1 May 1967, an A-4C Skyhawk piloted by LCDR Theodore R. Swartz from VA-76, based on the carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, shot down a Soviet-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 with an unguided Zuni rocket in the Skyhawk's only air-to-air victory of the war.

The first loss of an A-4 occurred on 5 August 1964, when LTJG (USN) Everett Alvarez, VA-144, flying from the USS Constellation, was shot down while attacking enemy torpedo boats in North Vietnam. LTJG Alvarez safely ejected after being hit by AAA fire, and became the first US Naval POW of the war he was released as a POW on 12 February 1973. The last A-4 to be lost in the Vietnam War occurred on 26 September 1972, when USMC pilot Capt. James P. Walsh, VMA-211, flying from his land base at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, was hit by ground fire near An Loc. An Loc was one of the few remaining hotly contested areas during this time period, and Capt. Walsh was providing close air support (CAS) for ground troops in contact (land battle/fire fight) when his A-4 was hit, catching fire, forcing him to eject. Rescue units were sent, but the SAR helicopter was damaged by enemy ground fire, and forced to withdraw. Capt. Walsh, after safely ejecting, had landed within NVA (North Vietnamese Army) positions, and had become a POW as soon as his feet had touched the ground. Capt. Walsh was the last US Marine to be taken prisoner during the war, and was released as a POW on 12 February 1973.

During the war, 362 A-4/TA-4F Skyhawks were lost to all causes. The US Navy lost 271 A-4s, the US Marine Corps lost 81 A-4s and ten TA-4Fs. A total of 32 A-4s were lost to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and one A-4 was lost in aerial combat to a MiG-17 on 25 April 1967.

LCDR John McCain flew A-4s, once having to clamber out over the refueling probe of a Skyhawk stationed on the carrier USS Forrestal in order to escape a devastating flight deck fire on 29 July 1967. The fire was caused by a "rogue" Zuni rocket, and would take the lives of 134 sailors. John McCain, then age 30, escaped from his jet by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down to the nose of the aircraft, and jumping off the refueling probe. Video tape shot aboard the Forrestal shows McCain narrowly escaping the explosion. Three months later he was shot down over Hanoi, while flying another Skyhawk off the Oriskany, and was a prisoner of war for over five years, primarily at the "Hanoi Hilton".


List of preserved aircraft by country [ edit | edit source ]

Argentina [ edit | edit source ]

  • 142688: National Aeronautics Museum, Moron, Argentina. Ώ]
  • 142748: Brigada Aerea, Villa Reynolds, Argentina. ΐ]
  • 142749: Regional Interforce Museum, San Luis, Argentina. Α]
  • 142752: Aerospace Technical Museum, Córdoba, Argentina. Β]
  • 142757: Brigada Aerea, Mendoza, Argentina. Γ]
  • 142773: Rio Cuarto Material Area, Las Higueras Airport, Argentina. Δ]
  • 142803: Córdoba, Argentina. Ε]
  • 142855: National Aeronautics Museum, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ζ]
  • 144915: Naval Headquarters, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Η]
  • 144988: Flying Club, Batan, Argentina. ⎖]
  • 144882: Espora Naval Aviation Museum, Buenos Aires, Argentina. ⎗]⎘]

A-4C at National Aeronautics Museum, Argentina, 2008

  • 148438: National Museum of Malvinas, Córdoba, Argentina. ⎙]
  • 149564: Brigada Aerea Museum, Mendoza, Argentina. ⎚]
  • 149514: National Aeronautics Museum, Buenos Aires, Argentina. ⎛]
  • 154173: Aerospace Technical Museum, Córdoba, Argentina. ⎜]
  • 158477: Museo Santa Romana, San Luis, Argentina. ⎝]

Australia [ edit | edit source ]

  • 142871: A-4B displayed as A-4G 154906 (885) and from 2007 as A-4G 154903 (882) Fleet Air Arm Museum (Australia), Nowra, New South Wales. ⎞]⎟]
  • 154911: displayed as TA-4G (880) Fleet Air Arm Museum (Australia), Nowra, New South Wales. ⎠]⎡]

France [ edit | edit source ]

  • 147797 (928): on display at the French Aerospace Museum in Paris. ⎢]⎣][n 1]
  • 145071 (941): stored at the French Aerospace Museum. ⎤][n 2]

Israel [ edit | edit source ]

  • 149964: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎥]
  • 150092: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎦]
  • 151179: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎧]
  • 152050: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎨]
  • 152099: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎩]

A4-H at Israeli Air Force Museum, Israel, 2010

  • 155010: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎪]
  • 155254: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎫]
  • 155271: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎬]
  • 155287: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎭]
  • 155289: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎮]
  • 159816: Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Airbase, Beersheba, Israel. ⎯]

Japan [ edit | edit source ]

  • 151074: U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Atsugi, Japan. ⎰]
  • 151095: Penie Medical Center, Tokushima, Japan. ⎱]
  • 154638: U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Iwakuni, Japan. ⎲]

Kuwait [ edit | edit source ]

Netherlands [ edit | edit source ]

New Zealand [ edit | edit source ]

Singapore [ edit | edit source ]

TA-4SU (900) BuNo 147742, with buddy refuelling pack attached under the centre-line pylon. RSAF Museum, Singapore, 2010

  • 142850 (600): Singapore Discovery Centre. ⎷]
  • 144979 (690): SAFTI Military Institute. ⎷]
  • 145013 (607): Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum. ⎷]
  • 145047 (651): RSAF Museum (forward fuselage section and cockpit). ⎷]
  • 145073 (929): gate guardian at RSAF Museum. ⎸]
  • 147742 (900): RSAF Museum. ⎸]

United States [ edit | edit source ]

  • 142112: Warbird Heritage Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois. ⎹]
  • 147761: A-4 LCC, Anaheim, California. ⎺]
  • 147768: A-4 LCC, Anaheim, California. ⎻]
  • 148581: A-4 LCC, Anaheim, California. ⎼]
  • 152853: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⎽]
  • 153524: Collings Foundation, Stow, Massachusetts. ⎾]
  • 153672: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⎿]
  • 158128: Welcome L.A., Monroe, Washington. ⏀]
  • 158486: Pacific Aero Ventures LCC, Bellevue, Washington. ⏁]
  • 158730: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⏂]
  • 159078: BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Mojave, California. ⏃]
  • 159530: BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Mojave, California. ⏄]
  • 159533: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⏅]
  • 159536: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⏆]
  • 159542: BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Mojave, California. ⏇]
  • 159544: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⏈]
  • 159545: BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Mojave, California. ⏉]
  • 159805: BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Mojave, California. ⏊]
  • 159815: BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Mojave, California. ⏋]
  • 159823: Advanced Training Systems International Inc., Mesa, Arizona. ⏌]

Restored A4D-1 at Alameda Point (former NAS Alameda), January 2012

  • 137813: National Naval Aviation Museum, NAS Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. ⏍]
  • 137814: Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. ⏎]
  • 137818: Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. ⏏]
  • 137826: Estrella Warbirds Museum, Paso Robles, California. ⏐]
  • 139929: USS Hornet Museum, Alameda, California. ⏑]
  • 139931: Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Florida. ⏒] (relocated from Naval Training Center Orlando in 1999 prior to BRAC closure of NTC Orlando)
  • 139947: Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum at the former Chanute AFB, Rantoul, Illinois. ⏓]
  • 139953: Hickey Park, Lemoore, California. ⏔]
  • 139956: Dobbins Air Reserve Base at former NAS Atlanta, Marietta, Georgia. ⏕]
  • 139969 (Displayed as 142176): United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. ⏖]
  • 142120: Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. ⏗]
  • 142166: George T. Baker Aviation School, Miami, Florida. ⏘]
  • 142167: Former NAS Cecil Field, Florida. ⏙]
  • 142180: NAS Wildwood Museum, Cape May County Airport, New Jersey. ⏚]
  • 142200: Alameda Point, former NAS Alameda, Alameda, California. ⏛]
  • 142219: New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks, Connecticut. ⏜]
  • 142226: Carolinas Aviation Museum, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina. ⏝]
  • 142227: Western Museum of Flight, Hawthorne, California. ⏞]
  • 142230: Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Indiana. ⏟]
  • 142094: United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland. ⏠]
  • 142100: NAS Fallon, Fallon, Nevada. ⏡]
  • 142105: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8076, Hartwell, Georgia. ⏢]
  • 142106: Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, Lakehurst, New Jersey. ⏣]
  • 142675: USS Lexington Museum of The Bay, Corpus Christi, Texas. ⏤]
  • 142678: City of Purdy, Purdy, Missouri. ⏥]
  • 142717: Court House Square, Beeville, Texas. ⏦]
  • 142741: National Vietnam War Museum, Orlando, Florida. ⏧]
  • 142761: Selfridge Military Air Museum and Air Park, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan. ⏨]
  • 142777: FAA Facility, Nashua, New Hampshire. ⏩]
  • 142790: Bishop, California. ⏪]
  • 142829: HARP, Floyd Bennett Field (former NAS New York), Brooklyn, New York. ⏫]
  • 142833: Aboard former USS Intrepid (CVS-11), Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, New York City. ⏬]
  • 142834: Ropkey Armor Museum, Indianapolis. ⏭]
  • 142848: Veterans Memorial Park, Ewing Township, New Jersey. ⏮]
  • 142905: San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego. ⏯]
  • 142922: Tillamook Air Museum, Tillamook, Oregon. 𖏜]
  • 142928: Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona. 𖏝]
  • 142929: USS Lexington Museum, Corpus Christi, Texas. 𖏞]
  • 142940: Shea Field Memorial Grove, former NAS South Weymouth, Weymouth, Massachusetts. 𖏟]
  • 144930: Proud Bird Restaurant, Aviation Blvd., Los Angeles. 𖏠]
  • 144992: Gateway National Park, Brooklyn, New York. 𖏡]
  • 145011: Air Zoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan. 𖏢]
  • 145067: Plant 42 Heritage Airpark, Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California. 𖏣]
  • 145072: Air Victory Museum, Medford, New Jersey. 𖏤]
  • 145082: Veterans Century of Sentries Park, Kenner, Louisiana. 𖏥]
  • 145113: Dick Kleberg Park, Kingsville, Texas. 𖏦]
  • 145122: Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia. 𖏧]
  • 145133: Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms, California. 𖏨]
  • 145135: Northland Community & Technical College, Thief River Falls, Minnesota. 𖏩]
  • 147671: Southwest Florida Defense Antiquities Museum, Fort Myers, Florida. 𖏪]
  • 147702: Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, Pueblo, Colorado. 𖏫]
  • 147708: Aviation Museum of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky. 𖏬]
  • 147715: Fort Worth Aviation Museum, 𖏭]Meacham International Airport, Fort Worth, Texas. 𖏮]
  • 147727: Porterville Municipal Airport, Porterville, California. 𖏯]
  • 147733: Arkansas Air Museum, Fayetteville, Arkansas. 𖏰]
  • 147750: Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana. 𖏱]
  • 147767: Inde Mortorsports Ranch, Willcox, Arizona. 𖏲]
  • 147772: Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. 𖏳]
  • 147787: Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama. 𖏴]
  • 147788: NAS Jacksonville Air Park, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. 𖏵]
  • 147790: Quonset Air Museum, Quonset State Airport (former NAS Quonset Point), North Kingstown, Rhode Island. 𖏶]
  • 147825: Santa Maria Museum of Flight, Santa Maria, California. 𖏷]
  • 148314: National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.. 𖏸]
  • 148316: Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, California. 𖏹]
  • 148463: Naval Station Great Lakes, Great Lakes, Illinois. 𖏺]
  • 148485: Wall of Honor Veterans Memorial, Bartlesville, Oklahoma. 𖏻]
  • 148490: I-10 rest stop, Santa Rosa County, Florida. 𖏼]
  • 148491: Oregon Air & Space Museum, Eugene, Oregon. 𖏽]
  • 148492: Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and Aviation Museum, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. 𖏾]
  • 148500: Illinois Aviation Museum, Bolingbrook, Illinois. 𖏿]
  • 148503: Aerospace Museum of California, Sacramento, California. 𖐀]
  • 148516: Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California. 𖐁]
  • 148517: San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, California. 𖐂]
  • 148538: Hickory Aviation Museum, North Carolina. 𖐃]
  • 148543: Virginia Aviation Museum, Richmond, Virginia. 𖐄]
  • 148569: Louisiana Military Museum, Ruston, Louisiana. 𖐅]
  • 148571: Pima Air & Space Museum, adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona. 𖐆]
  • 148572: Cumberland High School, Crossville, Tennessee. 𖐇]
  • 148610: Encinal High School, Alameda, California. 𖐈]
  • 149508: Covington Municipal Airport, Covington, Tennessee. 𖐉]
  • 149532: Castle Air Museum, former Castle AFB, Atwater, California. 𖐊]
  • 149618: Freedom Park Naval Museum, Omaha, Nebraska. 𖐋]
  • 149623: Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Charleston, South Carolina. 𖐌]
  • 149635: Mid-America Air Museum, Liberal, Kansas. 𖐍]
  • 149636: Yanks Air Museum, Chino, California. 𖐎]
  • 150581: Ontario Air and Space Museum, Ontario, Oregon. 𖐏]
  • 150586: Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. 𖐐]
  • 150598: New Century Air Center (former NAS Olathe), Olathe, Kansas. 𖐑]
  • 148613: Oriskany Memorial Park, Oriskany, New York. 𖐒]
  • 149656: National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖐓]
  • 149977: Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Florida. 𖐔]
  • 150023: Naval Air Museum Barbers Point (former NAS Barbers Point), Kapolei, Hawaii. 𖐕]
  • 150058: Nauticus National Maritime Center, Norfolk, Virginia. 𖐖]
  • 150076 (marked as Blue Angel #1 154180): National Naval Aviation Museum, NAS Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖐗]
  • 151030: Naval Air Museum Barbers Point (former NAS Barbers Point), Kapolei, Hawaii. 𖐘]
  • 151033: Naval Air Station Key West, Key West, Florida. 𖐙]
  • 151036: Veterans Center, Lihue, Hawaii. 𖐚]
  • 151038: Yanks Air Museum, Chino, California. 𖐛]
  • 151186: Naval Air Station Oceana Air Park, Virginia Beach, Virginia. 𖐜]
  • 151194: Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa, California. 𖐝]
  • 152061: Naval Air Museum Barbers Point (former NAS Barbers Point), Kapolei, Hawaii. 𖐞]
  • 152070: Evergreen Aviation Museum, McMinnville, Oregon. 𖐟]
  • 152080: National Museum of the Marine Corps, Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, Triangle, Virginia. 𖐠]
  • 152102: Naval Museum of Armament & Technology, Covington Municipal Airport, Tennessee. 𖐡]
  • 154180: Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington. 𖐢]
  • 154200: Army Airfield Museum, Millville, New Jersey. 𖐣]
  • 154204: Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and Aviation Museum, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. 𖐤]
  • 154217 (marked as Blue Angel #4): National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖐥]
  • 154977: San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum, San Diego, California. 𖐦]
  • 154983 (marked as Blue Angel #2): National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖐧]
  • 155009: Empire State Aerosciences Museum, Glenville, New York. 𖐨]
  • 155025: NAS Fallon Air Park, Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. 𖐩]
  • 155027: Quonset Air Museum, Quonset State Airport (former NAS Quonset Point), Quonset Point, Rhode Island. 𖐪]
  • 155033 (marked as Blue Angel #3): National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖐫]
  • 155036: Accomack County Airport, Accomack County, Virginia. 𖐬]
  • 155049: Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Lexington Park, Maryland. 𖐭]
  • 154639: Aviation High School, Long Island City, New York. 𖐮]
  • 152861: Regional Airport, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. 𖐯]
  • 152867: Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, Space Coast Regional Airport, Titusville, Florida. 𖐰]
  • 153525: Glenn Martin Aviation Museum, Middle River, Maryland. 𖐱]
  • 153526: Navy Operational Support Center Tucson / Marine Corps Reserve Center, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. 𖐲]
  • 153671: Grissom Air Museum, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Peru, Indiana. 𖐳]
  • 153678: Air Classics Museum, Sugar Grove, Illinois. 𖐴]
  • 154291: Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, Tyler, Texas. 𖐵]
  • 154332: Oakland Aviation Museum, Oakland, California. 𖐶]
  • 154342: March Field Air Museum, March Air Reserve Base (former March AFB), Riverside, California. 𖐷]
  • 154649: Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, California. 𖐸]
  • 156904: Naval Air Station Kingsville, Kingsville, Texas. 𖐩]
  • 158073: Fort Worth Aviation Museum, 𖏭]Meacham International Airport, Fort Worth, Texas. 𖐹]
  • 158087: Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Texas. 𖐺]
  • 158094: National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖐻]
  • 158106: Navy Test Pilot School, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. 𖐼]
  • 158120: Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Cherry Point, North Carolina. 𖐽]
  • 158137: USS Hornet Museum, former NAS Alameda, California. 𖐾]
  • 158141: Teton Aviation Center, Driggs, Idaho. 𖐿]
  • 158467: Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and Aviation Museum, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. 𖑀]
  • 158490: Mustin Beach Officers Club, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida. 𖑁]
  • 158512: Estrella Warbirds Museum, Paso Robles, California. 𖑂]
  • 158526: Naval Air Station Meridian, Mississippi. 𖑃]
  • 158716: Combat Air Museum, Forbes Field (former Forbes AFB), Topeka, Kansas. 𖑄]
  • 158722: Lexington Museum, Corpus Christi, Texas. 𖑅]
  • 159798: Naval Air Facility El Centro, El Centro, California. 𖑆]

The last production A-4 Skyhawk in its rollout scheme, Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, 2012


“The Skyhawk remains one of the most flexible mission aircraft ever produced.”

With a diverse service life beginning in 1956 with an initial delivery to US Navy VA-72 Attack Squadron and extending into today as an aircraft still employed by many of the world’s air forces, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk remains one of the most flexible mission aircraft ever produced. Known for its lightweight and small airframe supported by a powerful J52-P8 turbojet, the Skyhawk soon was dubbed “Heinemann’s Hot Rod” after its designer, Ed Heinemann. The type enjoyed service in many US Navy and Marine squadrons as a light attack aircraft and even as a trainer in both one and two seat versions. Though production ceased in 1979, the aircraft is still flown worldwide.

Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk, construction # 13590, was delivered to the U.S. Navy and accepted into the inventory on July 24, 1967. The aircraft was assigned Bureau Number 153524. “524” was immediately assigned to VF-126 at Miramar NAS. In 1967 the Skyhawk was being phased out of fleet as the main attack aircraft, VA 126, an A-4 fleet instrument training squadron known as the Fighting Seahawks was re-designated VF-126 Bandits. VF-126 began flying the adversary mission for the west coast from Miramar in April 1967. They were tasked to provide adversary training and continued to use the Skyhawk in that role because of its small size, exceptional maneuverability and smokeless engine until the squadron was disestablished in 1994. For a short time the Naval Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) was attached to VF-126 until August 1972. Top Gun handled graduate air combat maneuvering courses for Naval pilots while VF-126 handled the “day to day” adversary role, supporting west coast F-4 and F-14 squadrons.

From July of 1967 to September 1967, “524” was flown regularly accumulating 66.9 hours of flight time in that short period. On September 9, “524” was damaged in a ground accident. Records indicate that severe damage to the nose area of the aircraft occurred necessitating repairs to the nose gear and forward fuselage structure. This repair took 8 months and the aircraft was not returned to service until June of 1968.

“524” continued to fly with VF-126 until April of 1976. In the nearly ten years since its assignment to VF-126 Bandits, the squadron had flown the aircraft for 3,592 hours.

The aircraft began its new duties in support of the National Parachute Test Range at Naval Air Facility El Centro immediately after being transferred from VF-126. While”524’s” usage with the NPTR is unclear at this time, the NPTR was the hub of research focused toward aeronautical escape system testing, evaluation, and design. The aircraft was assigned to the NPTR from April, 1976 until January, 1979. 524 was flown sparingly while assigned to the NPTR accumulating only 275 flight hours during the period.

Although the TA-4F was assigned to the National Parachute Test Range the actual controlling authority was the Research Development Test and Evaluation Office (RDT&E). This controlling authority transferred TA-4F BuNo 153524 to the Naval Air Test Center at NATC Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft was assigned to the weapons test squadron. “524” was utilized to test a variety of weapons and equipment while with the unit. It operated in this capacity from January 1979 until June 1983. While assigned to weapons test,“524” accumulated 958 flight hours.

Upon completion of its assignment in weapons test, “524” was assigned to the National Test Pilots School also located at Pax River in July of 1983. The aircraft was officially transferred to the Commander, Naval Air Systems Command as the controlling agency.

“524” was used as a flight test evaluation aircraft, often carrying data packages and rear cockpit camera systems to document flight instruments. The aircraft was also used as a TPS student syllabus aircraft. It was one of 4 TA-4s assigned to the TPS. “524” continued in this capacity until August 5, 1994. All four of the TPS TA-4s assigned to the TPS were flown to the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Tucson, Arizona. At this time BuNo 153524 and her sister ships were considered excess to U.S. Navy requirements. “524” had completed her Naval service with a total of 6496.6 hours.

The Collings Foundation was allocated a Douglas TA-4 Skyhawk through Congressional action in October 2000. After looking at various aircraft that were held in storage at AMARC BuNo 153524 was selected because the overall condition of the aircraft and its low airframe hours. The aircraft was removed from storage at AMARC, Tucson exactly one year after the legislation was signed into law. Negotiations with Navy attorneys were laborious as we struggled to complete the Deed of Gift and to transfer missing components. After four years of painful delays, the transfer of the needed components was finally completed in the spring and summer of 2004.

The Skyhawk was disassembled in Tucson late this summer and shipped by truck to the facilities of AvCraft in Myrtle Beach, SC. It finally arrived on October 3, 2004. Reassembly and return to flight inspections along with needed repairs were begun immediately upon arrival. To expedite the process, it was decided to involve noted A-4 specialists from Safe Air Ltd. in New Zealand to add their expertise to the process of making it a restoration with the high quality the Collings Foundation expects of its flying collection. Specialists Ian Ginders, Norm Tse, and Dave Meikle reassembled the aircraft and completed both Phase A and B inspections. SafeAir is acknowledged as being the world’s foremost Skyhawk experts and combined with help from AvCraft’s speciality shops the TA-4J project was on schedule for engine runs by December 2004. We are thankful to Ben Bartel, President of AvCraft for his generous underwriting of the project.

First flight since “524”s initial retirement by the Navy was accomplished December 15, 2004 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with Captain Bert Zeller (USNR) at the controls.

The flight was made without incident and a few minor squawks were addressed upon landing.

TA-4F Skyhawk BuNo 153524 then went to Av Source West, Midland, Texas, where it underwent repainting. Av Source West replicated the paint scheme carried by the aircraft of H&MS 11, the Playboys, based at DaNang during the Viet Nam war. Our thanks to Hentzen Coatings of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for supplying the primer and paint to complete this project.

The Playboys were an all-volunteer fast forward air control unit that existed from January 1969 to September 14, 1970, when the Playboy mission was cancelled due to the phasing out of American assets. During the time the Playboys existed, they directed other fighter aircraft in support of the ground troops and in identifying and destroying enemy assets moving along the Ho Chi Minh trail.

The total number of Playboy aircrew numbered 57 during the life of the program. The Playboys worked closely with the USAF F100F Misty FAC pilots who occasionally flew in the TA-4Fs. This close association with the Mistys contributed significantly to the Marines fighting against North Vietnamese regulars along the Laotian/South Vietnam border. Considered by many to be one of the most successful operations of the Viet Nam war the Playboys helped to identify enemy supply areas, located and destroyed mortar and rocket positions, and provided communications links between strike aircraft and ground troops.

Due to a shortage of aircrewmen and the professional reputation they had gained, the Playboys began to draw pilots from the A-4, F-4, and A-6 communities in MAG-12 and MAG-13.

During the Playboys’ existence three aircraft were lost due to enemy fire. Jolly Green Giant helicopters rescued all three crews. In nearly one year of combat action the only Playboy lost was Lt.Col. Larry “Robbie” Robinson. He was flying an F-4B Phantom while escorting a Playboy TA-4.

The Collings Foundation is proud to honor the memory of all Vietnam Veterans by returning the Playboy colors to the sky. Skyhawk BuNo 153524 joins the Foundation’s F-4D Phantom II and UH-1E (VMO-2 and VMO-6) in the Viet Nam Memorial Flight for the 2008 air show season. The Skyhawk also participates in the Collings Foundation’s TA-4J / F-4 Phantom II Flight Training Program at our Houston campus.