Service of AD Skyraider with Fleet Air Arm

Last revised October 18, 2001


Beginning in November of 1951, the United Kingdom received 50 AD-4W Skyraiders under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP). They were intended to provide airborne early warning for the Royal Navy, and were designated Skyraider AEW.1 in Fleet Air Arm Service.

The Skyraider AEW.1 aircraft were originally allocated the following British serial numbers: WT943/WT969, WT982/WT987, WV102/WV109 and WV177/WV185. However, serials were incorrectly applied to five aircraft which appeared as WT097, WT112, WT121, WT761 and WT849 (using the last 3 digits of their Navy BuNos) instead of the correct WT943, WT982, WT983, WV108 and WV109. 20 of the Skyraiders (WT944/WT963) were delivered to the Royal Navy factory-fresh, but the remainder came from US Navy stocks.

The Skyraider AEW.1 first entered service in late 1951 with No.778 Training Squadron, based at RNAS Culdrose, and this unit conducted British carrier trials aboard HMS Eagle. No.849 Squadron was the only unit to fly the Skyraider, and they maintained a Headquarters Flight permanently based at Culdrose and four operational Flights which were detached for service in four-lane units aboard carriers. One of these Flights was operating aboard HMS Bulwark during the Suez operation in November of 1956.

The Skyraider AEW.1 was replaced in active service by the Fairey Gannet AEW.3 by November of 1960, but some Skyraiders remained in supporting and training roles until 1962.

In late 1962 and early 1963, twelve surplus Skyraider AEW.1 aircraft were sold to the Swedish company Svensk Flygtjanst AB. This private company operated target tugs under contract to the Flygvapnet. These were ex WT952, WT949, WT962, WT950, WT956, WT957, WT944, WT959, WTWT0948, WV181, WT987 and WT951. Before delivery, they were modified by Scottish Aviation at Prestwick. These changes included the removal of the military equipment (including the tailhook and the radome) and the fitting of a large bubble observation window on both sides of the fuselage immediately to the rear of the entrance doors. A winch operator's station was installed in the crew position previously occupied by a radar operator. Two more aircraft (ex WT945 and WV185) were later delivered to Sweden as spares. The twelve modified aircraft were assigned the Swedish civilian registrations SE-EBA to SE-EBI and SE-EBK to SE-EBM. The planes were painted a brilliant yellow to make it easier for them to be seen. SE-EBH (ex-WT959) was destroyed by fire after a taxiing accident at Lulea in Sweden on September 8, 1968 and was replaced by ex-WT849, which was converted to target tug configuration at Bullofta and became SE-EBN. This machine was written off in a wheel-up landing accident at Midlanta Airport on May 6, 1971. The Swedish Skyraiders were still in use as target tugs as late as the early 1970s.

Two Fleet Air Arm Skyraiders (WT121 and WV106) are now on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton.

Serials of RNAS Skyraiders

124076/124127		Douglas AD-4W Skyraider
				c/n7382/7433
				124080 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV104
				124085 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV103.
				124086 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV106 Feb 1953.
					Now in reserve collection at FAA Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, UK.
				124097 (VC-190) in takeoff accident from USS Princeton CV-37 Mar 7, 1951.  I have this
					plane as also going to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT943 but painted
					with incorrect serial of WT097
				124101 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV177
				124103 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT986
				124104 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT985
				124107 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT969
				124110 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV107
				124111 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV178
				124112 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT982 but painted with incorrect serial WT112
				124113 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV105
				124114 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT964
				124115 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV179
				124116 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV180
				124121 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT983 but painted with incorrect serial WT121
				124122 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV102
				124124 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT965
124761/124777		Douglas AD-4W Skyraider
				c/n7571/7587
				124761 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV108 but painted with incorrect serial WT761
				124765 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT966
				124768 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT968
				124771 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT967
				124774/124777 delivered factory-fresh to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT944/WT947
125765/125782		Douglas AD-4W Skyraider
				c/n 7658/7675
				125772 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV183
126836/126875		Douglas AD-4W Skyraider 
				c/n 7819/7858
				126846 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV184
				126849 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV109 put painted with incorrect serial WT849
				126866 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT984
				126867 (c/n 7850) to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WV181.  
127921/127961		Douglas AD-4W Skyraider
				c/n 7936/7976
				127922 to Fleet Air Arm as Skyraider AEW.1 WT987.  
				127946/127961 delivered factory fresh to Royal Navy as Skyraider AEW.1 WT948/WT963


Sources:


  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. The Douglas Skyraider, Harry Gann, Aircraft in Profile, Doubleday, NY.