Douglas A4D-5/A-4E Skyhawk

Last revised October 24, 2001

The A4D-5 was a considerably revised version and more advanced version of the Skyhawk. It had a different engine, a Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A engine, rated at 8500 This engine had a 27 percent lower fuel consumption than the Wright J65 of earlier Skyhawk versions, which substantially increased the range. The J52 engine required a redesign of the center fuselage and inlet ducting, with a splitter plate at the edge of the inner intake next to the wall of the fuselage.

The earlier Skyhawks had been designed primarily with the nuclear mission in mind. Since the nuclear mission was now becoming less important, the A4D-5 was an attempt to adapt the basic Skyhawk design to deliver conventional munitions. The A4D-5 had an extra pair of underwing weapons hardpoints, one underneath each outer wing. These extra stations brought the maximum weapons load to 8200 pounds, and allowed for a much wider variety of weapons and fuel options. The nose was lengthened by 14 inches to accommodate an AN/ASN-19A navigation computer. New equipment installed included TACAN, Doppler navigation, Mk 9 toss bombing system, radio altimeter, and the AJB-3A low-altitude bombing system.

On July 30, 1959, approval was given to deliver two A4D-2Ns (148613 and 148614) as A4D-5s. The A4D-5 flew for the first time on July 12, 1961. The A4D-5 was redesignated A-4E in September of 1962 (the designation A-4D was skipped lest it be confused with the old A4D designation). The A-4E began to enter service in late 1962--the first squadron to receive the type was VA-23 at NAS Lemoore, California, which got its first A-4Es in December of 1962. A total of 500 A-4Es were built.

During service, the aircraft was retrofitted with the humpbacked avionics compartment immediately behind the cockpit that had been introduced on the A-4F. In addition, many received the more powerful J52-P-8 engine, rated at 9300 lb.s.t. Some A-4Es had their straight refuelling probe replaced by the canted probe that was fitted to the A-4M.

28 A-4Es were transferred to Israel in October of 1973 as an emergency measure to make up for the high losses of Israeli Skyhawks during the Yom Kippur War.

Specification of Douglas A4D-5/A-4E Skyhawk:

Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A turbojet, rated at 8500 lb.s.t. Performance: Maximum speed 673 mph at sea level (clean), 636 mph at sea level with Mk 28 nuclear weapon. Cruising speed 498 mph. Stalling speed 139 mph. Combat ceiling 40,050 feet (clean). An altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 4 minutes. Combat radius 230 miles with a Mk 28 weapon, 680 miles with two 300-gallon drop tanks. Ferry range 2130 miles. Dimensions: Wingspan 27 feet 6 inches. Length 41 feet 4 inches, height 15 feet, Wing Area 260 square feet. Weights: 9624 pounds empty, 18,300 pounds gross, 22,950 pounds maximum. Armament: Two 20-mm cannon with 100 rpg. Maximum weapons load 8200 pounds on four underwing pylons and one centerline pylon.

Serials of Douglas A4D-5/A-4E Skyhawk

148613/148614	Douglas YA4D-5 Skyhawk 
				c/n 12806/12807.  Redesignated A-4E in 1962.
149647/149666	Douglas A4D-5 Skyhawk 
				Redesignated A-4E in 1962.
149959/150138	Douglas A4D-5 Skyhawk 
				Redesignated A-4E in 1962
151022/151261	Douglas A4D-5 Skyhawk 
				Redesignated A-4E in 1962.  151198/151261 cancelled
151984/152100	Douglas A-4E Skyhawk
				c/n 13372/13489


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

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

  3. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, GordonSwanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  4. Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Variant Briefing: Part 1, Harry S. Gann, Wings of Fame, Vol 4, 1996.