Douglas A4D-2/A-4B Skyhawk

Last revised November 14, 2001

The A4D-2 was the next production version of the Skyhawk. It differed internally from the A4D-1 by having a strengthened rear fuselage structure. The A4D-2 also featured a new single-skin rudder, which was built "inside-out" with the ribs showing and bonding it together rather than by riveting. This corrected a tendency of the rudder to vibrate at high speed, thus creating fatigue cracks. The rudder was also provided with an external trim tab. Perhaps the most noticeable external change was the addition of a non-retractable midair refueling probe to the starboard side of the fuselage. In addition, the centerline attachment point was given the ability to carry a 300 US-gallon "buddy" refueling tank on the centerline pylon. It had a built-in drogue and hose, which could be used to refuel other aircraft in flight.

Internally, additional navigational equipment was provided. The ordinance delivery system was improved by the addition of the capability to carry and launch the Bullpup air-to-ground pilot-guided missile. Additional improvements were made to the flight control systems. The landing gear was strengthened and a pressure fueling system was added.

The pilot was provided with an Escapac 1 rocket-boosted ejector seat.

The first A4D-2 was delivered to the fleet in September of 1957, with the first squadron to receive the plane being the Marine Corps squadron VMA-211. 542 A4D-2s were built.

The A4D-2 was redesignated A-4B in Sepember of 1962.

As later Skyhawk models became available, many A-4Bs were relegated to Navy and Marine Corps reserve units. Many of them were redesignated TA-4B to reflect their new training role.

Several A-4Bs surplus to Navy and Marine Corps requirements were later refurbished and sold to foreign air forces.

Specification of Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk:

Engine: One Wright J65-W-16 turbojet, rated at 7700 lb.s.t. Performance: Maximum speed 649 mph at 4000 feet Cruising speed 493 mph. Stalling speed 137 mph. Combat ceiling 41,800 feet. Initial climb rate 7950 feet per minute. Combat range 1000 miles with a single Mk 28 weapon, 1650 with a Mk.28 and 2 3000 gallon drop tanks. Dimensions: Wingspan 27 feet 6 inches. Length 39 feet 4 inches, height 15 feet 2 inches. Wing Area 260 square feet. Weights: 9146 pounds empty, 15,359 pounds combat weight 17,535 pounds gross, 22,500 pounds maximum. Armament: Two 20-mm cannon with 100 rpg. 3 underwing pylons.

Serials of Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk

142082/142141	Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk 
				c/n 11336/11395.  Redesignated A-4B in 1962.
142416/142423	Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk 
				c/n 11601/11608.  Redesignated A-4B in 1962.
142674/142953	Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk 
				c/n 11736/12015
144868/145061	Douglas A4D-2 Skyhawk 
				c/n 12114/12307.  Redesignated A-4B in 1962.


  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, 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.

  5. The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, Harry Gann, Aircraft in Profile, Doubleday.