Douglas AD-4NA Skyraider
ERA: JET AGE
Part of the Air Zoo Collection
Location: Flight Innovation Center - East Wing
The Skyraider was one of the most successful Douglas aircraft produced for the U.S. Navy. It was produced too late for operational use in WWII, but played a major role in Korea and Vietnam operations. The requirement, drawn up in 1944, was for an aircraft capable of fulfilling two distinct missions: dive bombing and torpedo attack.
Traditions say the Skyraider was designed in "one evening" and the first plane was produced in nine months. The order for the aircraft was placed in 1944, but no production aircraft made it into combat by the end of 1944.
Skyraider production was almost terminated in 1946, but by 1962, it was becoming one of the most important weapon platforms in the U.S. inventory with the renewed outbreak of warfare in Vietnam.
Eventually, more than 1,00 Skyraiders were sent to Vietnam, operated not only by the Marines and Navy, but also by the U.S. Air Force and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.
It proved to be one of the most effective combat types, as it had done earlier in Korea, with a huge weight-lifting ability, 10-hour edurance, and the ability to survive severe flack damage.
It was nicknamed “Spad”, after the WWI fighter, and bore a heavy burden of combat in Southeast Asia until 1973. In 1976, many were still in frontline service with small air forces.
The Air Zoo’s Skyraider
The Air Zoo's Skyraider was used by the French in combat in North Africa. It has a paint scheme for VA-125. However, there is an error on its tail. The letter on it is a "B" for Air Group 19, which was changed in 1957 to "NM." Also, VA-125 was never assigned to Air Group 19.
Did You Know?
- The Skyraider could attack at 70 degrees, which was comparatively steep for such a heavy machine.
- This was the first single engine propeller-driven aircraft capable of carrying an atomic weapon. It used torpedoes to "bust" dams.
- A Skyraider in Dallas, Texas once took off with a full load and armaments weighting 26,739 pounds-equal to a C-47 with 24 passengers.
- Generally, the AD carried more tonnage on its typical mission than a B-17 did. (The B-17 could carry more on a short haul, but because of distances involved, it usually had to sacrifice bomb load for needed fuel.)
- Though AD means Attack Douglas, in radio code it means Able Dog, which is quite a suitable name for the Skyraider. The term "Spad" was used lovingly in Vietnam by the pilots because the propeller-driven aircraft were "so old" they were "almost as old" as the Spads used in World War I.