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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk



Designed as a replacement for the A-1 Skyraider, the initial work was carried out as a private company exercise without government funding and a draft proposal was submitted to the Bureau of Aeronautics in January 1952. The US Navy was impressed with what it saw but, as it was already committed to a number of new fighter designs, asked that the concept be applied to a jet-powered, carrier-borne attack bomber. Such an aeroplane was required to have a top speed of not less than 805km/h (500mph), a combat radius of 555km (345 miles) with a 908kg (20001b) weapons load and a maximum take-off weight of no more than 13,600kg (30,000lb).

The Navy visualised the aircraft as a twin-turboprop grossing approximately 30,000 lb (13 605 kg). However, the service also specified a unit cost limit of $1m, due to severe budgetary restrictions (the Korean War was coming to an end). Jumping ahead with the story, Douglas actually produced the first 500 Skyhawks at a price of $860,000 apiece.

By the time inspection of a mock-up took place, the Skyhawk had crystallised into a 12.01m (39ft 4¾in) long fuselage housing a pilot, fuel systems and a licence-built Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire jet engine mated to a modified delta wing, spanning just 8.38m (27ft 6in) and a stalky tricycle undercarriage. On 21 June 1952, Douglas was awarded a contract for 20 such aircraft under the designation A4D-1 (BuAer Nos 137812-31).

Construction of the XA-4A (originally XA4D-1) prototype Skyhawk began in September 1953 and the first flight of this aircraft, powered by a Wright J65-W-2 engine (32 kN), took place 22 June 1954.

Heinemann approached the Skyhawk design on the basis of a growth factor of 10, and set out to save weight wherever humanly possible. Assuming that the mission could be performed by a 12,000 lb (5 442 kg) aircraft, he chose the 7,200 lb (3 265 kg) Wright J65-W-2, a licence-built Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. This was used in the prototype, but the pre-production and production aircraft were to have the 7,800 lb (3 537 kg) J65-W-4 and 4B, most of which were reconditioned engines previously flown in the USAF's F-84F Thunderstreak.

Simplicity was the keynote of the airframe design. The Skyhawk was given a single-piece wing based on a three-spar box continuous from tip to tip, forming a single integral fuel tank. To minimise wing cutouts, the main undercarriage units were mounted externally. To minimise restrictions on external stores, the main legs were retracted forward to lie in fairings below the wing surface, while the wheels turned through 90 degrees to lie flat in apertures ahead of the main structure.
The fuselage was fastened on top of the wing by ten bolts, and contained an avionics bay in the nose, and a single fuel tank between the cockpit and the engine. To save weight, the fuselage had a single transport joint, and "broke" in the middle, where the frame that carried the engine was bolted to the wing intermediate spar. Engine change was effected by removing the rear fuselage complete with tail. The nose undercarriage retracted forward below the cockpit, so that emergency extension was assisted by both gravity and aerodynamic drag. One of the most unusual aspects of the Skyhawk design was its two-tank fuel system, with 560 US gal (2 120 lt) in the wing and 240 US gal (908 lt) in the fuselage, which must have saved significantly in terms of weight of pipes and valves.

The same philosophy of simplifying to reduce weight was applied to the avionics, the many black boxes supplied by the Navy being repackaged as a single item, with a single power supply and one multi-pin connector. Douglas designed its own ejection seat, which was much lighter than existing products. The company had already designed its own bomb racks, eliminating the normal high-drag sway bracing, and had developed low-drag shapes for external stores: the Aero IA series of bombs, and fuel tanks of 150, 300 and 450 US gal (568, 1136 and 1705 lt) capacity. The aircraft was armed with two Colt 20-mm MK 12 cannon in the wing roots, each gun being provided with 100 rounds. The initial aircraft were fitted with three pylons for ordnance and drop tanks, with a total load capacity of 8,055 lb (3 653 kg).

On 22 June 1954 the first XA-4D-1 Skyhawk took to the air from Edwards air force base, California piloted by Bob Rahn. The first of 19 pre-production A4D-1s was flown seven-and-a-half weeks later, on 14 August 1954. Eight years later, when the US forces adopted a uniform system of aircraft designations, the A4D-1 became the A-4A.
Flight trials showed up a number of minor aerodynamic problems but the basic design more than vindicated itself.

As a result of early flight tests, the sugar-scoop fairing was added to the tail cone and vortex generators to the outer wing, and the rudder structure was redesigned to eliminate buzz, although these modifications became standard only on the A--4B. This "inside-out" rudder was a North American idea, first used on the FJ-4 Fury. In September 1955, preliminary carrier trials were carried out on the USS Ticonderoga, and on 15 October 1955, an A-4A, still fitted with the less powerful J65-W-2, set up a 500-km (310.7-mile) closed-circuit world speed record of 695.127 mph (1112,2 km/h) at Edwards AFB on 15 October 1955.




A total of 165 of the first production model were constructed, including the 19 pre-production aircraft. The first production model, designated the A4D-1, was cleared for operational service in September 1955, deliveries to the fleet began on 9 September 1956, the A-4A going to VA-72 attack squadron, based at Quonset Point NAS, Rhode Island. The Skyhawk was declared operational on 26 October that year, and deliveries to the first Marine Corps unit, VMA-224, began in the following January. The A-4A went through various stages of uprating, ending with the J65-W-18 of 8,500 lb (3 855 kg). It had an empty weight of only 8,400 lb (3810 kg), of which avionics represented 138 lb (62,6 kg), and a maximum take-off weight of 20,000 lb (9 070 kg).

The A4D-1, or A-4A as it became known in 1962, was powered by a single Wright J65-W-4 or W-4B turbojet and carried an internal armament of two 20mm cannon. Up to 2268kg (5000 lb) of external stores could be carried on a fuselage and two wing racks which could, alternatively, support three drop tanks with a capacity of 3028 litres (800 gallons) to increase range. Production continued until 1957, by which time 165 had been built.

The A-4B, of which 542 were to be built, first flew on 26 March 1956 and entered service in 1957. It corrected various shortcomings of the first series, introducing the revised rudder as a production item, plus dual hydraulics, powered flying controls and a beefed-up structure to permit clearance to 7g. Provisions were made for carriage and firing of the Bullpup air-surface missile and for in-flight refuelling, using a long straight probe attached to the lower starboard side of the front fuselage. Douglas also developed a buddy refuelling pack for the centreline station, allowing an A-4 to act as a tanker. Aside from the drogue and hose, and associated equipment, the pod also contained 300 US gal (1136 lt) of fuel, equal to the capacity of the long-range tanks carried on each of the wing pylons. The system allowed for the transfer to the receiving aircraft of all the A-4 tanker's external fuel, plus half of the internal capacity, making a transferable total of 1,300 US gal (4 925 lt).

This second series was typically powered by the J65-W-16A of 7,700 lb (3 492 kg), although it was later uprated to the W-18 of 8,500 lb (3 855 kg). Empty weight grew to 9,146 lb (4 148 kg) and maximum take-off weight to 22,500 lb (10 205 kg). A-4B deliveries began to Marine Corps squadron VMA-211 in September 1957, and to the first Navy unit, VA-12, in the following February.

The next model designated after the A4D-2 (A-4B) in the pre-1962 series was the A4D-3, a variant of the -2 with J52-P-2 engine. Ten were ordered but then cancelled, and no equivalent designation was given in the A-4 series. Also remaining in the project category was the A4D4, intended to be an A4D-2N (A4C) with J52 engine.

A-4C (A4D-2N) appeared in 1959. Essentially similar to its predecessor, the A-4C was optimised for all-weather operations and was equipped with terrain-following radar, an autopilot, a low-altitude bombing system and an improved ejector seat. Initial production machines received the W-16A engine but later aircraft incorporated the W-16C model.



The key to this extended capability was a small, lightweight radar, which, in its way, was just as remarkable as the Skyhawk itself. Developed specifically for the Skyhawk from a simple radar ranging set by the US Navy Avionics Facility at Indianapolis, it had the designation APG-53A. Manufactured by Westinghouse, it weighed 90 lb (40,8 kg) and used a dish of only 16 in (40,6 cm) diameter. Aside from performing surface mapping (B-scope) and ranging functions, this radar produced a vertical profilometer (E-scope) display, enabling the pilot to fly a terrain clearance path at relatively low altitude and high speed. Other new equipment for this series included the TPQ--10 blind bombing system, AJB-3 low altitude bombing system and all-attitude reference, an automatic flight control system and an ADD (airstream direction detector). Total avionics weight was now 395 lb (179 kg), giving an empty weight of 9,728 lb (4 412 kg).

The first flight of the A4C took place on 21 August 1958, and the first deliveries followed in March 1960 to VMA-225 at Cherry Point MCAS, South Carolina. The first Navy squadron to receive it was VA-192, which began conversion at the end of 1961. A total of 638 was subsequently built, making this the most prolific member of the Skyhawk family; at one stage it equipped 23 Navy and nine Marine squadrons, in addition to various training units.

The 1000th Skyhawk was delivered in February 1961. Production of the A-4C ended in 1962.

The next model to enter series production was the A-4E (A4D-5) in which the J65 used in all previous variants gave place to the two-spool Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6. This provided a static thrust of 8,500 lb (3 855 kg), and was far more economical than the ageing Sapphire. It also had considerable growth potential, whereas the J65 had reached the end of the line. The A4E had a locally strengthened structure and two additional pylons, giving a total theoretical external load capacity of 9,155 lb (4 152 kg). New equipment included a further improved ejection system, a Doppler radar, Tacan, radar altimeter and the improved AJB-3A LABS/all-attitude and heading reference. The avionics now amounted to 526 lb (238,5 kg) and empty weight had climbed to 9,853 lb (4 468 kg). The first aircraft of this upgraded sub-series flew on 12 July 1961, and the A4E began to enter service in November 1962, the first squadron (VA-23) reaching operational status in the following year. A total of 498 of this series was built following two YA4Es.

The use of the J52 engine improved the type’s combat radius by virtue of its lower fuel consumption compared with the previously used J65. Most importantly, the A-4E marked the end of the Skyhawk as a nuclear bomber; this model and all subsequent ones were optimised for conventional bombing and ground attack work. The A-4E remained in production from 1961 until 1966, by which time 499 had been built.

Like the A4D-3 and A4D-4, the A4D-6 remained a paper project.

In 1964, the Navy placed an order for two prototypes of an operational trainer version under the designation TA-4E, the first example of which flew on 30 June 1965.


Provision for a second cockpit involved lengthening the fuselage by 28 in (71 cm), duplicating some of the avionics, a 136 US gal (515 lt) reduction in fuselage fuel tankage and the installation of the J52-P-8A engine used in the A4F. The two-seater took on other features of the A4F, notably the nosewheel steering, wing spoilers and zero-zero seat, and was accordingly redesignated TA-4F soon after first flight.

A total of 241 TA-4Fs was built (including the prototypes), with deliveries beginning in May 1966 to VA-125 at Lemoore NAS. The majority of TA-4F aircraft were subsequently converted to serve as TA-4Js, replacing the TA-9J Cougar, with a further 292 TA-4Js being built as such from the ground up (including 17 for Israel). This current two-seater has no nav-attack system since it is used purely for advanced flying training, for which purpose the less powerful J52-P-6 is fitted. The maiden flight of the TA-4J took place on 21 November 1969, with deliveries beginning the following month to VT-21 and VT-22 training squadrons at Kingsville, Texas, and this two-seater now equips all Navy advanced flying training units. It is also used by some fleet training units and Marine squadrons. As an advanced trainer it is to be replaced in the late 1980s by the new VTX project, which will also supersede the Rockwell T-2 Buckeye in the basic training role. Twenty three of those TA4Fs that were not converted to 4J standard were reworked for the forward air control task as OA-4Ms. This work was carried out by the Naval Air Rework Facility at Pensacola, the first OA-4M flying on 23 May 1978 and entering USMC service at Cherry Point late 1979.



Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk


The last major single-seat variant developed for the US Navy was to be the A-4F which first flew in August 1966, of which 146 were built. This introduced the more powerful J52-P-8A engine of 9,300 lb (4 218 kg) and a large dorsal fairing (later retrofitted to A-4Es) to provide additional avionics space. Other modifications included cockpit armour and other vulnerability reduction changes, nosewheel steering, low-pressure tyres, a zero-zero ejection seat and wing spoilers for improved landing performance, especially in crosswinds and a dorsal ‘hump’ fairing to house additional avionics. One hundred A-4Fs were retrofitted with the more powerful J52-P-401 which required slightly enlarged intakes. With the A4F, avionics weight had escalated to 744 lb (337 kg) and empty weight to 10,448 lb (4 738 kg). The first of this series flew on 31 August 1966, and the type entered service in June of the following year.

The dorsal hump was also retrofitted to a number of A-4Es. A two-seat training version was produced under the designation TA-4F, a few of which were later re-equipped for the electronic warfare role under the designation EA-4F. Total production of the A/TA-4F series amounted to 385 units of which 147 were single-seaters and 238 the trainer model.

In July 1967, the Royal Australian Navy received eight new--build A-4Gs and two two-seat TA4Gs, these aircraft being generally similar to the A-4E but were powered by the J52-P-8A engine, and TA-4F; first flights were made on 19 July and 7 August 1967 respectively. In 1971, these were augmented by eight refurbished ex-US Navy A4Fs and two TA4Fs. Approximately half have since been lost in accidents (mainly in operating from HMAS Melbourne), but the remainder served with VF-805 and training squadron VG 724 at Nowra, NSW.

The first was delivered 22 Nov 1967, and the last delivered on 8 July 1971.

The A-4F Super Fox is used by adversary squadrons, with reduced avionics, no armament, and an uprated J-52-P-8A engine (nearly 2000 lb thrust more) to provide dissimilar combat training.

Israel has been by far the largest export customer for the Skyhawk. Delivery of 48 A-4Hs for service with Heyl Ha’Avir began in 1967 (after a first flight on 27 October 1967) with modifications that included a braking parachute, the modified fin later used on the A-4M, and a revised internal armament consisting of two 30-mm DEFA cannon with 150 rounds per gun. These were followed by a further 42 A-4Hs and 10 two-seat TA-4Hs (first flown on 15 April 1969), and as many as 60 ex-US Navy A4Es, and 17 TA-4Js, some of which arrived in 1969, and others at the time of the October 1973 war, replacing aircraft lost in combat. From late 1972, Israel also received an initial batch of 90 A4Ns, fundamentally similar to the Marine Corps' A-4M, but with an improved nav-attack system and revised cockpit layout. The A-4N first flew on 8 July 1972 and the final total of A-4N deliveries was 117 aircraft, and thus Israel received no fewer than 267 single-seat and 27 two-seat Skyhawks in all, although 53 of these were lost in the Yom Kippur war alone. Some of Israel's Skyhawks have been modified to suit local requirements (eg, an extended jetpipe to reduce the effects of the SA-7 warhead) and the 100 or so remaining on strength were expected to be replaced in Heyl Ha'Avir service towards the end of the decade.

The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) has been a more recent purchaser of the Skyhawk, last year receiving 14 A-4Es and two TA-4Hs from Israeli stocks. Reports indicate that these are to be augmented by 16 ex-US Navy A4Es, but it is not yet clear who is to refurbish these aircraft.

The success of the two-seat Skyhawks as trainers led to the development of the next model to be built, the TA-4J, which flew from 1966. Unlike the earlier TA-4F, the J carried only a single 20mm cannon armament and had much operational equipment re-moved. Power was provided by a J52-P-6 engine. The US Navy’s Air Advanced Training Command received a total of 293 such aircraft.

In 1970, New Zealand took delivery of the first of a batch of 10 A4Ks and four two-seat TA4Ks, these being new-build aircraft (first flown on 10 November and 5 December 1969 respectively), based on the A-4F, but with a braking parachute, modified radios and the revised fin used on the A-4H and A-4M. These equipped No 75 Sqn of the RNZAF, based at Ohakea.


Douglas A-4K


The A-4L was an A-4C updated to the standard of the A4F in terms of equipment and control system, including the distinctive fairing on top of the fuselage. However, the A4L retained the three pylons of the earlier model and the J65 engine of 8,500 lb (3 855 kg). One hundred of these conversions were made at Naval Air Rework Facilities (NARF); the first flight was made on 21 August 1969 and the first deliveries took place at the end of 1969. The A4L went first to Navy and Marine reserve units, where, in the former case, they began to be replaced by early-model A-7 Corsair IIs in the mid-1970s, the Skyhawks then passing to regular fleet utility (VC) squadrons.

In principle, both the Navy and Marine Corps were to have replaced the Skyhawk with the winner of the VAL contest, designed to requirements issued in May 1963. Vought won this competition with the A-7 Corsair II, early in 1964, the resulting A-7A making its first flight on 27 September 1965. Powered by a single Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-6 turbofan of 11,350 lb (5 147 kg), the A-7A had an empty weight of 14,857 lb (6738 kg), a total of eight weapon pylons, and a design catapult gross weight of 32,500 lb (14 740 kg). Due to its larger size and more economical engine, it could fly further with heavier warloads and more equipment than the diminutive Skyhawk.

However, the Corsair II was clearly going to cost far more and require more maintenance effort than the smaller, simpler Skyhawk. In addition, it may well have been that the A-7 provided capabilities that were far in excess of those demanded by the Marines for the short-range close-support mission. The two services therefore went their separate ways, the Navy adopting the Corsair II, while the Marine Corps funded a further stage of Skyhawk development.

The resulting A-4M was the final variant for the US services. It adopted yet another increase in engine thrust, with the 11,200 lb (5080 kg) J52-P-408A, producing a reduction in take-off run of approximately 20 per cent 305m (l000ft) and an increase in climb rate of the order of 50 per cent. In addition, the A4M featured a larger canopy giving better rear view, a redesigned fin, an angled flight refuelling probe to minimise interference with the nose radar, a braking parachute, double the ammunition capacity of earlier Skyhawks, an uprated electrical generator, a self-contained gas turbine starter and a ram air turbine for emergency services. This considerably improved Skyhawk had its maiden flight on 10 April 1970, and deliveries began twelve months later to VMA-324 at Beaufort, South Carolina. A total of 158 A-4Ms was built, in addition to two A4Fs converted, the last of the series being handed over by Douglas on 27 February 1979 (30 such aircraft had been transferred to Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973) in a ceremony that marked the end of Skyhawk production. This 2,960th A-4 was delivered to VMA-331 at Cherry Point.

The emergence of the A-4M added new impetus to the export model Skyhawks, acting as a basis for the A-4N, the A-4KU and providing elements for the A-4S. The first of these, the A-4N or Skyhawk II, was the second model built for Israel. Employing the M’s basic airframe and engine, the model N featured a new navigational and weapons delivery system including a head-up display and a built-in armament of two 30mm DEFA cannon. First flown in 1972, a total of 129 A-4Ns were built, most of which have received the elongated jet pipe modification. Another notable feature is the addition, in Israel, of a fin top fairing to house a radar warning system.

In late 1974, the Kuwait Air Force ordered 30 A-4KU single-seaters and six TA4KUs trainers, all new-build aircraft based on the A-4M. Deliveries began in 1977 after first flights, respectively, on 20 July and 14 December 1976, and these aircraft were operated by two attack squadrons. The KU was similar to the M with the addition of a braking chute housing below the rear fuselage.

The A-4S appeared in 1972. As well as incorporating elements such as the refuelling probe from the A-4M, the S represented the final product of Douglas’s ‘new from old’ refurbishing programme. Ordered by the Singapore government, the A-4S had a re-worked, ex-US Navy A-4B airframe incorporating a redesigned cockpit, solid state electronics, the ventral braking parachute housing, 30mm Aden cannon in place of the original weapons, and overhauled and up-rated J65 engines. Converted by Lockheed Aircraft Services, 40 aircraft were produced, complemented by seven TA-4S trainers.

The first eight conversions taking place in 1973 in California (first flight 14 July 1973) and the remainder in Singapore by 1976. More than 100 modifications included the installation of the 8,100 lb (3674 kg) J65-W-20, 30-mm Aden cannon, a modern nav-attack system including a Ferranti lead-computing sight, spoilers and a braking parachute. The seven TA-4S Skyhawks (first flown 21 February 1975) differ from the standard Navy two-seaters, in having separate hoods, rather than a combined canopy over the two cockpits. The A4S Skyhawks equip No 142 Gryphon and No 143 Phoenix squadrons at Tengah, while others serve alongside Hunters in the OCU role with No141 Squadron.



The first refurbished Skyhawk model appeared during 1965 under the designation A-4P. Production totalled 75 units, the aircraft being an overhauled A-4B or A-4C. Work on the type was undertaken by Douglas (50 aircraft) and Lockheed (25), the Lockheed machines being originally A-4Cs and fitted with the Ferranti Dl 26R Isis weapons sighting system. Sixteen extra A-4Bs were supplied to the Argentinian Navy under the designation A-4Q for use aboard the carrier Veinticinco deMayo.

Argentina was the first foreign recipient of the Skyhawk. An initial batch of 25 ex-US Navy A4Bs, redesignated as A-4Ps, was delivered in 1966 for use by the Fuerza Aerea Argentina. These were followed by a similar batch in 1970, and 25 former A4Cs in 1976. The Skyhawks serve in the attack role with I Escuadron de Caza Bombardiero of IV Brigada Aerea at El Plumerillo AB, Mendoza, and with IV and V Escuadrones of V Brigada at General Pringles AB Villa Reynolds. In 1971, the Comando de Aviacion Naval Argentina purchased 16 refurbished A4Bs, these being assigned the designation A-4Q. These Skyhawks have been operated by 3 Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Ataque at Comandante Espora NAS, with detachments aboard the carrier 25 de Mayo. The 10 surviving A-4Qs were being replaced by the Dassault-Breguet Super Etendard.

Republic of Singapore Air Force A-4S Skyhawks have been re-engined with General Electric F404 non-afterburning turbofans, and the first flew in late September 1986. Redesignated A-4SU after the upgrade, including HUD and laser INS.


Following the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War in the South Atlantic, in 1983 the U.S. placed an embargo on sale of military aircraft to Argentina. The remaining Argentine Skyhawks continued operational until March 1999, when the last five of the old inventory were retired.
In 1994, the United States made Argintina an offer to modernize 36 ex-USMC A-4M Skyhawks in a US$282 million deal that would be carried out by Lockheed Martin and included the privatization of the Fabrica Militar de Aviones (Spanish for Military Aircraft Factory), now Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina SA. The program was named Fightinghawk in recognition of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was the source of its new avionics. In 2010, FMA reverted to the Argentine government as Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FADEA).
Argentine Air Force technicians chose 32 A-4M (built between 1970/1976) and 4 TA-4F airframes from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona to upgrade. The upgrade plans included:
Complete overhaul of the airframe, wiring looms and the Pratt & Whitney J52P-408A engine
Installation of Douglas Escapac 1-G3 ejection seats
HGU-55/P helmets
Honeywell Normal Air-Garrett's OBOGS (On Board Oxygen Generation System)
Westinghouse/Northrop Grumman AN/APG-66V2 (ARG-1) radar
HOTAS controls and a 'glass' cockpit (2 CRT color screens)
Sextant Avionique/Thales Avionics SHUD
Litton/Northrop Grumman LN-100G inertial navigation system
MIL-STD-1553B data bus
Two General Dynamics Information Systems AN/AYK-14 mission computers
Northrop Grumman AN/ALR-93 (V)1 Radar warning receiver
AN/ALQ-126B jammer
AN/ALQ-162 jammer
ALR-47 chaff/flare dispenser
The A-4M airframes were equipped with the TV and laser spot tracker Hughes AN/ASB-19 Angle Rate Bombing System (ARBS) but these were removed after their conversion as A-4AR, as the radar could provide the same data.
The contract stipulated that 8 airframes would be refurbished at the Lockheed-Martin Plant in Palmdale, California and the rest (27) in Córdoba, Argentina at LMAASA (ex-FMA).
At least ten TA-4J and A-4M airframes for use as spare parts, eight additional engines, and a new A-4AR simulator were also delivered.
Lockheed Martin A-4AR Fightinghawk
The Fightinghawks, received Air Force serials C-901 to C-936, saw their first group arrive in Argentina on 18 December 1997 and the first "Argentine" A-4AR was rolled out on 3 August 1998 at Cordoba. The last one, number 936, was delivered to the Air Force in March 2000. Two aircraft (a one-seat and a two-seat) remain some time in the United States for weapons homologation.
All of the A-4ARs were delivered to the 5th Air Brigade (V Brigada Aérea) at Villa Reynolds, San Luis Province, where they replaced two squadrons of Falklands/Malvinas veteran A-4P (locally known A-4B) and A-4C. They were soon deployed in rotation around the country from Rio Gallegos in the south to Resistencia in the north where they were used intercept smugglers and drug trafficking airplanes.
Argentina Air Force McDonnell Douglas A-4AR Fightinghawk
In September 1998, just months after their arrival and again in April 2001, United States Air Force F-16s visited Villa Reynolds for the Southern Falcon joint exercise, known as Aguila (Spanish for Eagle) in Argentina. In 2004, the A-4ARs went abroad for the joint exercise Cruzex, along with Brazilian F-5s and Mirages, Venezuelan F-16s and French Mirage 2000s.
As of February 2013, after 15 years of service, three A-4ARs had been lost:
6 July 2005: near Justo Daract, San Luis Province, pilot Lt Horacio Martín Flores (29 years old), died.
24 August 2005: near Río Cuarto, Cordoba, pilot ejected safely.
14 February 2013: "Vice Comodoro Angel Aragonés" airport near Santiago del Estero, both pilots ejected safely.


The Skyhawk was in continuous production for no less than 26 years, from 1953 to 1979, believed to be the longest manufacturing run ever achieved by an American combat aircraft. In that time 2,960 Skyhawks were produced, of which 2,405 were single-seat attack aircraft and 555 were two-seat trainers.

By having a wing of very short span, 27 ft 6 in (8,38 m), it was possible to save approximately 200 lb (90,7 kg) by eliminating the wing fold. However, carrier approach speed dictated a reasonably large wing area, 259.82 sq ft (24,15 sq.m). The Skyhawk is also noted for handling, and for high roll rates, up to 300 deg/sec at moderate speeds. The US Navy Blue Angels aerobatic team has flown the Skyhawk since 1974, using modified A4Fs with the uprated J52-P-408 engine. For long flights, pilot workload is reduced by virtue of attitude, altitude and heading hold facilities provided by the AFCS (automatic flight control system), which also gives yaw damping for improved weapon aiming. Instantaneous turn rates can be high, combining with the Skyhawk's small size to make it a useful aircraft with which to simulate Soviet fighters in teaching air combat manoeuvres. In real combat, the survivability of the Skyhawk benefits from having manual reversion for the flying controls, a three-spar wing, a self-sealing fuselage tank and armour plate in front and below the cockpit, and behind the pilot's head.

On a standard day the A-4M can reach approximately Mach = 0. 87 at sea level and up to Mach = 0.93 at altitude. At maximum take-off weight and carrying a 300 US gal (1136 lt) centreline tank, it can deliver a 4,000-lb (1815-kg) bombload over a 225-nm (420-km) radius in a LO-LO sortie, or over 275 nm (510 km) in a HI-LO profile. Flying a HI-LO-HI close support mission, it can loiter at 5,000 ft (1500 m) and 150 nm (280 km) radius for one hour with a 4,000-lb (1815-kg) bombload, or for two hours with 1,750 lb (795 kg).


Brazil operated carrier NAe Minas Gerais until 2001 when she was replaced by the ex-French carrier Foch, renamed the NAe Sao Paulo. The Sao Paulo was better suited to operate Brazil's newly acquired, but still second-hand batch of 20 Kuwaiti A-4KUs and TA-4KUs.
The push by the Brazilian Navy to allow its naval air arm to operate tactical jet aircraft came to a head in the 1980s, as a ruling that prohibited the Brazilian Navy from operating these aircraft was finally overturned.
After about a decade of perusing through different candidates, Kuwait's A-4KUs, which were built in the late 1970s and were advanced for the type, were selected on the grounds that they featured very low flight hours and had almost no corrosion, as they had operated in the hot deserts of the Arabian Peninsula for decades. A $70M deal was brokered to acquire the Kuwaiti A-4s for the Brazilian Navy. These aircraft would be re-branded AF-1 after some modest upgrades were applied before entering service.
In late 2000 the ex-Kuwaiti Skyhawks took to the skies above the Minas Gerais and the Skyhawk was once again operating in a tactical role aboard a carrier.
Throughout the early part of the decade the Brazil's AF-1s participated in multiple international exercises and indigenous training events, before training aboard the Sao Paulo was cut off in 2004 when a series of mechanical failures forced the carrier into long periods of overhaul. These failures included a deadly explosion of one of her catapults in 2004 and a deadly fire in 2012.
The Skyhawks kept flying, and by the late 2000s it was clear that their capabilities were still rudimentary in comparison to other modern multi-role fighters. The jets were mainly relegated to general purpose bombs and AIM-9 Sidewinders for the within-visual-range fight. They also relied on external radar direction to execute intercepts and over-the-horizon surface attacks.
The Skyhawks also suffered from some engine and spares issues as the decade wore on and thus flying hours and available airframes were greatly curtailed. In 2009, the Brazilian Navy aimed to fix these problems through a comprehensive upgrade.






Light naval attack bomber
Crew: 1
Engine: Wright J65-W-2 Sapphire turbojet, 7,200 lb. thrust
Loaded weight: 15,000 lb.
Max. speed: over 650 m.p.h.
Range: about 650 miles.

Engine: One 3493kg (77001b) Wright J65-W-4 or -4B turbojet.
Span 8.38m (27ft 6in)
Length 12.01 m. (39ft 4¾ in)
Height 4.57m (15ft)
Empty weight 3810kg (8400lb)
Loaded weight 6747kg (14,8751b)
Maximum speed SL 1069km/h (664mph).
Range: 740km (460 miles).
Ceiling: 14,935m (49,000ft).
Armament Two 20mm Mk 12 cannon
Hardpoints 2268kg (5000lb) external stores.



Engine: One Wright J65 turbojet.
Length: 42 ft., 2-3/15 inches
Wing Span: 27 ft., 6 inches
Height: 14 ft., 11-7/8 inches
Wing Area: 259.86 sq ft
Wing Loading: 62.4 lbs./sq ft
Aspect Area: 2.91
MAC: 129.625 inches
GG Range: 25.58% to 28.48% MAC
Wing Section Root: NACA 0008-1.1-25.-0875 (.5x230)
Wing Section Tip: NACA 0005-.825-50-.0787 (.5x230)
Flaps: Split Hydraulic Actuated
Flaps Takeoff: 25 Degrees
Flaps Landing: 50 Degrees
Empty Weight: 9,614.47 lbs.
Empty Weight CG: 246.687 in/ 34.38%MAC
Gross Takeoff Weight:18,5000 lbs.
Stabilizer Trim
Nose Up: 11 Degrees
Nose Down: 1 Degrees
Average Cruising Speed: 432 KIAS
Max Speed at Sea Level: 600 KIAS
Takeoff Speed: 132 KIAS 16,000 lbs. (Note 2)
Takeoff Speed: 138 KIAS 18,000 lbs. (Note 2)
Takeoff Run: 2,600 ft. (16,000 lbs.) (Note 1)
Takeoff Run: 3,200 ft. (18,000 lbs.) (Note 1)
Landing Ground Roll Distance: 4,600 ft. (12,000 lbs.) (Note 2)
Landing Ground Roll Distance: 5,400 ft. (14,000 lbs.) (Note 2)
Stall Speed (Flaps Full): 99 KIAS (12,000 lbs.)
Stall Speed (Flaps Up): 107 KIAS (12,000 lbs.)
Stall Speed (Flaps Full): 99 KIAS (14,000 lbs.)
Stall Speed (Flaps Up): 107 KIAS (14,000 lbs.)
Landing Speed (Flaps Full): 116 KIAS (12,000 lbs.)
Landing Speed (Flaps Up): 134 KIAS (12,000 lbs.)
Landing Speed (Flaps Full): 126 KIAS (14,000 lbs.)
Landing Speed (Flaps Up): 144 KIAS (14,000 lbs.)
Roll Rate: 720 Degrees per Second
Rate of Climb: 5,500 Feet per Minute
Range at 20,000 ft.: 782 Nautical Miles (w/Ext Fuel) (Note 1)
Range at 20,000 ft.: 510 Nautical Miles (w/o Ext Fuel) (Note 1)
Note 1: With 1,000 lbs. fuel reserve
Note 2: Standard Day, No Wind, Sea Level


Engine One 3856kg (8500lb) Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A turbojet.
Span 8.38m (27ft 6in)
Length 12.23m (40ft 1.5in)
Height 4.62m (l5ft 2in)
Wing area: 260 sq.ft
Empty weight 4469kg (98531b)
Loaded weight 7355kg (16,215 1b).
Fuel capacity: 641 Gal + 2 x 208 gal underwing or 1 x 250 gal fuselage tank
Maximum speed SL 1083km/h (673mph).
Range 1865km (1160 miles)
Ceiling 11,795m (38,700ft)
Armament Two 20mm Mk 12 cannon
Hardpoints: 3719kg (8200 1b) external stores.


Engine One Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8A turbojet, 9300 lb.
Span 8.38m (27ft 6in)
Length 12.23m (40ft 1.5in)
Height 4.62m (l5ft2in).
Max speed: SL, M0.88 (570kts); @35,000 ft: M0.8.


Engine One Pratt & Whitney J52-P08A turbojet, 11,220 lb.
Span 8.38m (27ft 6in)
Wings area: 24.16m2
Wing sweep: 33 degree
Length 12.23m (40ft 1.5in)
Height 4.62m (l5ft2in).
Empty weight: 10,465 lb / 4,899kg
Maximum takeoff weight: 24,500 lb
Take off weight (normal): 11,113kg
Fuel capacity: wing and fuselage internal and three external tanks: 1,800 U.S. gallons
Max speed: SL, M0.88 (570kts); @35,000 ft: M0.8.
Armament: Two 20 mm MK 12 cannon in wing roots with 200 rpg.
Accommodation: Pilot only; Douglas Escapac I G3 zero zero lightweight seat.
Maximum speed: 586 knots (with a 4,000 pound bomb load)
Initial climb rate: 8,440 ft/min
Maximum ferry range: 1740 nautical miles
G load max: 6
Hardpoints: one fuselage and four wing racks
Wheel track: 2.37m
Combat Radius: 575 km
Wing chord at root: 4.72m
Tailplane span: 3.45m
Vert Tail area: 4.65m2
Horz Tail area: 4.54m2
T-O run @ 23,000lbs: 832m


Span 8.38m (27ft 6in)
Length 12.23m (40ft 1.5in)
Height 4.62m (l5ft 2in)
Engine One Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8A turbojet, 9300 lb.
Max speed: SL, M0.88 (570kts); @35,000 ft: M0.8.



A-4K Skyhawk
Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A, 9300 lbf thrust
Length: 40 ft 3 in (12.22 m)
Wingspan: 26 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Maximum speed: 672 mph (1083 kph)
Range (without refueling): 2000 miles (3220 km)
Service ceiling: 42,250 ft (12,880 m)

Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8B/C turbojet.
Wingspan: 8.38m.
Length: 12.57m.
Height: 4.53m.
Wing area: 24.16sq.m.
Empty wt: 11800 lbs.
MAUW: 24,500 lbs.
Fuel: Internal: 5200lb, external: up to 6600 lb.
Armament: 2 20mm cannon + 4 hard point stores.

Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J52 P 408A turbojet, 11,200 lb st (5 080 kgp) for take off.
Span, 27 ft 6 in (8,38 m)
Overall length (excluding FR probe), 40 ft 4 in (12,29 m)
Overall height, 15 ft 0 in (4,57 m)
Max speed, 670 mph (1078 km/h) at sea level, or Mach= 0.88
Max speed, 646 mph (1040 km/h) with 4,000 lb (1815 kg) weapon load
Initial rate of climb, 4,800 fpm (24,4 m/sec)
Service ceiling, 42,250 ft (12 880 m)
Take off run, 2,730 ft (832 m) at 23,000 lb (10 433 kg) weight
Combat radius, 385 mls (620 km)
Max ferry range, 2,350 mls (3800 km) at 24,500 lb (11113 kg)
Empty weight 10,800 lb (4900 kg)
Normal take off weight, 24,500 lb (11113 kg).
Internal fuel capacity wing and fuselage, 800 US gal (3 028 lt)
External drop tank fuselage centreline, capacity 150, 300 or 400 US gal (568, 1136 or 1514 lt), and one drop
Undercarriage track 7 ft 9.5 in (2,37 m)
Wing area, 260 sq ft (24,16 sq.m).
Armament: Two 20 mm MK 12 cannon in wing roots with 200 rpg.
Hardpoint: Fuselage 3,500 lb (1588 kg) capacity
Hardpoint: two inboard wing 2,250 lb (1020 kg)
Hardpoints: two outboard wing 1,000 lb (450 kg)
Accommodation: Pilot only; Douglas Escapac I G3 zero zero lightweight seat.
Wing chord at root: 4.72m
Tailplane span: 3.45m
Vert Tail area: 4.65m2
Horz Tail area: 4.54m2
T-O run @ 23,000lbs: 832m


A-4N Skyhawk II
Wing span: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m).
Max speed: 645 mph (1,038 km/h).


A4G Skyhawk
Engine One Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A, 9,300 lbs thrust
Wing Span: 27 ft 6 in
Length: 44 ft
Height: 15 ft
Empty weight: 10,100 lb
Loaded weight: 24,500 lb
Crew One
Ceiling: 40,000 ft
Speed: 657.6 kts
Range: 2000 miles (ferry)
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannon (100 rounds per gun)

TA4G Skyhawk
Engine One Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A, 9,300 lbs thrust
Wing Span: 27 ft 6 in
Length: 44 ft
Height: 15 ft
Empty weight: 10,100 lb
Loaded weight: 24,500 lb
Crew Two
Ceiling: 40,000 ft
Speed: 657.6 kts
Range: 2000 miles (ferry)
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannon (100 rounds per gun)

Engine: P&W J52-P-8B/C, 9300 lb st.
Wingspan: 8.38m.
Length: 13.27m.
Height: 4.73m.
Wing area: 24.16sq.m.
Empty wt: 5897 kg.
Internal fuel: 1909 kg.
MTOW: 11,113 kg.



A-4AR Fightinghawk / OA-4AR
Length: 40 ft 3 in (12.30 m)
Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Height: 14 ft 11 in (4.57 m)
Wing area: 259 ft² (24.15 m²)
Empty weight: 4,900 kg (10,803 lbs)
Loaded weight: 11,000 kg (24,251 lbs)
Max. takeoff weight: 11,136 kg (24,500 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney J52P-408A Turbojet, 11,200 lbf (50.0 kN)
Maximum speed: 1080 km/h (671 mph)
Range: 1,700 nm (2,000 mi, 3,220 km)
Service ceiling: 42,250 ft (12,880 m)
Rate of climb: 8,440 ft/min (43 m/s)
Wing loading: 70.7 lb/ft² (344.4 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight: 0.51
Crew: 1 (2 in OA-4AR)
Guns: 2× 20 mm (0.787 in) Colt Mk 12 cannon, 100 rounds/gun
Missiles: 2× AIM-9M Sidewinder, CITEFA AS-25K
Bombs: 9,900 lb (4,490 kg) on five external hardpoints




A-4AR Fightinghawk / OA-4AR








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