SKYHAWK FIRST FLIGHT = 22 JUNE 1954
Literally "hand built," XA4D-1, BuNo 137812, was the first of an eventual 2,960 Skyhawks to roll off the Douglas Aircraft Company assembly line. Powered by a Curtiss-Wright J65-W-16A engine, it had a one-piece windscreen, no tailhook or refueling probe, and the "sugar scoop" exhaust baffle was not yet conceived.
The first Skyhawk flight, flown by Douglas test pilot Robert Rahn, took place at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 22, 1954.
|SKYHAWK - "FIRST & LAST" MILESTONES|
|updated 06 MAR 2012|
|21 JUN 52||Contract awarded for XA4D-1||Douglas Aircraft|
|26 JUL 52||Preliminary design begins||Douglas Aircraft|
|13 OCT 52||Authority to Proceed||Douglas Aircraft|
|01 FEB 54||XA4D-1 Rollout||El Segundo Plant|
|22 JUN 54||First Flight - Bob Rahn||XA4D-1 at Edwards|
|14 AUG 54||First production A4D-1 flight||(A-4A)|
|OCT 54||Authority to Proceed , A4D-2||(A-4B)|
|12 SEP 55||First Carrier Trials||U.S.S. Ticonderoga|
|15 OCT 55||Speed Record - 500Kilometer||LT Gordon Gray 695.163 MPH at Edwards|
|26 MAR 56||First A4D-2 (A-4B) flight||Test Pilot Dru Wood|
|27 SEP 56||First fleet delivery of A4D-1||VA-72 Quonset Point RI|
|29 SEP 56||First Delivery A4D-1 to the Marine Corps||VMA-224 - BuNo139920|
|26 OCT 56||BuNo.139935 first A-4 declared fleet ready||VA-72 Quonset Point RI|
|01 SEP 57||Fleet Delivery of A4D-2||(A-4B)|
|00 OCT 57||First WestPac Deployment of A-4||VA-93|
|00 JAN 58||First "E"s earned by A-4s||VA-34|
|00 APR 58||First Jet Landing on Ranger||VA-12 with A4Ds|
|21 AUG 58||First Flight A4D-2N||(A-4C)|
|00 OCT 58||First Deployment 300 Gallon Drop Tanks||A4D-2 & VA12 aboard USS Forrestal|
|00 OCT 58||First Night Quals in Night Air/Air Refueling||A4D-2 & VA12 aboard USS Forrestal|
|00 OCT 58||First Buddystore & Standby Tanker||A4D-2 & VA12 aboard USS Forrestal|
|10 NOV 58||Contract for A4D-2N||( A-4C )|
|00 JAN 59||U.S.S. Intrepid Landing Record||A4D-2 of VA-106|
|00 JUL 59||First Skyhawk Trans-Atlantic with BuddyStore||Marine Air Wing 2 - A4D-2s|
|00 SEP 59||First Operational Bullpup firing by a Skyhawk||VA-34 in the Atlantic Fleet|
|01 FEB 60||Fleet Deliver of A4D-2N||VMA-225|
|00 MAR 60||First delivery A4D-2 to Marine Corps||VMA-225|
|00 APR 61||First Bullpup firing in Fleet Air Jacksonville Area||VA-46|
|00 JUL 61||1000th Skyhawk rolls off the production line||Douglas Aircraft|
|12 JUL 61||First Flight A4D-5||(A-4E)|
|00 DEC 62||Last Delivery A-4C|
|01 JAN 63||Deliver of A4D-5||(A-4E)|
|26 DEC 62||First unit to receive A-4E||VA-23 Black Knights with A-4E|
|08 FEB 64||First Driver to get 100 landings in A-4E||Dale Evans|
|04 AUG 64||First Skyhawk Raids into North Vietnam|
|05 AUG 64||First Skyhawk lost to combat - Vietnam||VA-144 BuNo149578|
|25 APR 65||Shrike Missile into combat via a Skyhawk||VA-23 Black Knights with A-4E|
|01 JUN 65||First Skyhawk lands at Chu Lai, Vietnam||BuNo147779, VMA-225, Col. J. Noble|
|30 JUN 65||First Flight TA-4E||Quickly redesignated TA-4F|
|01 APR 66||Production ended on A-4E|
|01 MAY 66||First Fleet Deployment TA-4F||VA-125 NAS Lemoore CA|
|31 AUG 66||First A-4F Flight||converted "E"|
|01 NOV 67||First Skyhawk Unit equipped with Walleye||VA-212 a/c modified for Walleye|
|11 MAR 67||First Walleye fired in combat||VA-212 CO CDR H. Smith - SE Asia|
|01 MAY 67||01 MAY 67||MIG-17 Shootdown by a Skyhawk||VA-76 LCDR Ted R. Swartz|
|00 JUN 67||Fleet Delivery A-4F|
|19 JUL 67||First A-4G Flight||Test Pilot Jim Stegman|
|21 JUL 67||First TA-4G Flight||Test Pilot Jim Stegman|
|26-Jul-1967||First Delivery A4-G & TA-4G||Produced for Australia|
|27 OCT 1967||First Flight of A-4H for Israel||Test Pilot John Lane|
|17 DEC 68||First Flight TA-4J|
|00 xxx 69||First Deployment TA-4J||VT-17 NAS Kingsville TX|
|10 APR 70||First A-4M Flight||Test Pilot Walt Harper|
|00 OCT 70||First "Production" A-4M BuNo.158148||VMA-324 MCAS Beaufort, SC|
|26 FEB 71||Fleet Delivery A-4M||VMA-324 MCAS Yuma AZ|
|16 APR 71||Fleet Delivery A-4M||VMA-324 MCAS Yuma AZ|
|06 SEP 72||Last Skyhawk lost to combat - Vietnam||VA-212 BuNo155021|
|27 JAN 73||Last Skyhawk Bomb Dropped - Vietnam||Col. John Caldas, CO VMA-311|
|00 SEP 73||Skyhawk selected for Blue Angel Duty|
|00 xxx 74||00 xxx 86||Skyhawks fly with Blue Angels|
|00 DEC 75||Last USN A-4 Line Squadron disestablished|
|27 FEB 79||Last Production A-4 Delivered - BuNo160264||#2,960, a "Skyhawk II" A-4M to VMA-331|
|27 FEB 90||Last A-4M Active Duty xferred to Reserve Unit||VMA-211 xfers a/c to MAG-42|
|22 JUN 94||A-4 retired from the USMC Reserves||VMA-131|
|09 SEP 95||Skyhawk Association formed||Tailhook at Reno|
|00 SEP 99||TA-4 retired from VT-7|
|03 MAY 03||Last USN Active Duty Skyhawk Flight||VC-8 TA-4J to Palm Springs Airport|
|23 AUG 03||Formal Retirement of the Skyhawk - USN||VC-8 Red Tails Deactivation NAS Oceana|
Every single person I've ever fought in one of these airplanes has died the first time I fought him. Every... single...one." Randy Clark brandishes a model of the A-4 Skyhawk and tells me how the half-century-old design can whup far newer aircraft: F/A-18 Hornets, F-14 Tomcats-maybe someday even F/A-22 Raptors and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
I need no convincing. In the 1970s, I'd flown in an A-4 variant, the two-seat TA-4J, at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Maryland's Patuxent River base. As an engineering student learning how to size up a fighter's combat performance, I'd experienced first-hand how this machine could out-hassle pretty well anything in the sky."
The Hotrod Squad by Graham Chandler
"Why A-4s Rule the Furball!"
June/July 2004 Issue of Air and Space Magazine
John C. Brizendine, president of the Douglas Aircraft Company division of McDonnell-Douglas, and Ed Heinemann, former chief engineer at the former Douglas facility at El Segundo, presented the log books to U.S. Navy Captain E.W. Melvin, Navy plant representative at Douglas, who in turn handed them to U.S. Marine Corp Lt.Col. M.R. (Sid) Snedecker, CO of VMA-331. Also in attendance were U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Robert P. Coogan, commander of Naval Air Forces, Pacific Fleet and U.S. Marine Corp Major General William R. Maloney, commanding general of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS El Toro.
Shortly after delivery to VMA-331 BuNo 160264 was transferred to NWC China Lake and subsequently spent time with NATC Patuxent River (7T-305 in 1985), with VX-5 (XE-15 in 1986) and with VMA-124 (QP-00 in 1990 & 1994) before being retired and transferred to the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, San Diego, CA, where she is on display in the markings of VMA-124, QP-00.
CNAT "Official" Retirement of the Skyhawk.
|23 AUG 2003 - Last U.S.N. Active Duty Skyhawk Unit:
The "Redtails" of Composite Squadron Eight (VC-8) were the last U.S. Navy active duty unit to operate the Skyhawk on a regular basis. Flying the TA-4J out of Ofstie Field, Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; the "T" Birds were equipped with special electronics gear. VC-8 Skyhawks provided utility missions in support of fleet operations, close air support training for Marine, Army, and Special Force units, and operated in an adversary role in support of the Tomcat and Hornet RAGs. The "Redtails" TA-4Js were retired from active service in May 2003. The active duty life of the venerable Skyhawk in U.S. Navy fleet service began in late September 1956 and spanned more than 47½ years.
Note that today, several civilian companies are utilizing the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk to perform many of the duties, and more, that were previously performed by units such as VC-8.
comments on the Skyhawk & VC-8 Retirement.
VC-8 TA-4J BuNo 158137.
The story of one of the last retired U.S.N. Skyhawks and the U.S.S Hornet Museum.