Douglas A-4L Skyhawk

Last revised November 17, 2001

The designation A-4L was assigned to 100 Naval Air Reserve A-4Cs that were upgraded during the Vietnam War. The upgrade was designed to bring them up to the standards of Skyhawks that were currently in fleet service, in the expectation that there could be two Reserve carrier air wings that would be fully combat-ready should the need arise.

The upgrade included the installation of an uprated J65-W-20 engine with 8400 lb.s.t. for takeoff, plus the addition of the dorsal avionics pod. In addition, the wing lift spoilers that were first introduced on the TA-4F were included in the modification kit. However, the number of weapons pylons remained at three.

The first A-4L upgrade was flown for the first time on August 21, 1969. It was the first of 100 aircraft to be so modified.

Surplus A-4L aircraft were later reworked to A-4PTM aircraft for delivery to Malaysia.

Specification of Douglas A-4L Skyhawk:

Engine: One Pratt & Whitney J65-W-20 turbojet, rated at 8400 lb.s.t. Performance: Maximum speed 649 mph at 4000 feet, 593 mph at sea level. Cruising speed 496 mph. Stalling speed 137 mph. Combat ceiling 41,800 feet (clean). Initial climb rate 7950 feet per minute. Combat range 1000 miles with 2025 lbs of stores, 1650 miles with two 300-gallon drop tanks. Dimensions: Wingspan 27 feet 6 inches. Length 40 feet 1 inches, height 15 feet, Wing Area 260 square feet. Weights: 9860 pounds empty, 18,500 pounds gross, 22,500 pounds maximum. Armament: Two 20-mm cannon with 100 rpg.


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

  3. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, Gordon Swanborough 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.