The first Skyhawk flight, flown by Douglas test pilot Robert Rahn, took place at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 22, 1954.
SKYHAWKS - "FIRST and LAST" MILESTONES
"Why A-4s Rule the Furball!"
"There's hardly a combat mission that the A-4 Skyhawk hasn't flown, making it, in its new role, one tough old bird.
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
From A to M, the last of the Best, A-4M Skyhawk BuNo 160264
Rollout of the last one built.
Blow-up of the 2,960th Skyhawk.
The incredible 25 year Skyhawk production run, which began in February 1954 when A-4A Skyhawk BuNo 137812 was rolled out for engine run-up, came to an end on February 27, 1979 when the U.S. Navy accepted A-4M BuNo 160264 from McDonnel-Douglas. It was the 2,960th versatile and rugged Skyhawk manufactured by Douglas and by McDonnel Douglas and was delivered to VMA-331 based at Cherry Point, NC.
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.
Dave “Whizzer” White, DDS., Skyhawk Association Founder. 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.