Douglas AD-4B Skyraider

Last revised October 18, 2001

The AD-4B was a version of the AD-4 designed to carry and deliver nuclear weapons. The airframe was strengthened to make it possible for the airplane to deliver nuclear weapons by the over-the-shoulder toss bombing technique. It was also armed with 4 20-mm cannon in the wings.

28 AD-4s were converted to AD-4B standards, whereas 165 AD-4Bs were built from scratch. Tests were carried out with an externally-carried dummy atomic bomb, but no AD-4B ever dropped an actual atomic bomb in a test. It may very well be the case that the AD-4B never flew with an actual atomic weapon slung underneath it. The AD-4B was apparently used as a political tool in the Navy's battle with the Air Force over the B-36 bomber. The Navy eagerly wanted a nuclear role for its fleet of carriers.

On May 21, 1953, an AD-4B (BuNo 132363) set a new world weight-lifting record for single-engined aircraft by taking off with a weight of 14,941 pounds of external stores.

Specification of Douglas AD-4B Skyraider

Engine: One 2500 hp Wright R-3350-26WA Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, rated at 2700 hp for takeoff and 2100 hp at 14,500 feet. Performance: Maximum speed 320 mph at 15,000 feet, 303 mph at sea level. Cruising speed 196 mph. Initial climb rate 2980 feet/min. Service ceiling 26,000 feet. Combat range 900 miles with Mk 7, 2060 miles with a Mk 8 and 2 300-gallon drop tanks. Weights: 11,780 pounds empty, 18,700 pounds normal loaded, 24,300 pounds maximum. Dimensions: Wingspan 50 feet 0 1/4 inches, length 39 feet 3 inches, height 13 feet 9 inches, wing area 400.33 square feet. Armament: Four 20-mm cannon in the wing.

Serial Numbers of Douglas AD-4B Skyraider

127844/127879		Douglas AD-4 Skyraider
				c/n 7859/7894
				127854/127860, 127866, and 127868/127872 converted to AD-4B.
128917/129016		Douglas AD-4 Skyraider
				c/n 8235/8334
				128937/128943 and 128971/128978 converted to AD-4B.
132227/132391		Douglas AD-4B Skyraider
				c/n 8335/8499


  1. Douglas A-1 Skyraider, Robert F. Dorr, Osprey, 1989

  2. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Vol 1, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1988

  3. American Combat Planes, 3rd Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.