Douglas AD- 4 Skyraider

Nicknames: Able Dog, Flying Dump Truck, Firefly, Hobo, Sandy, Spad .

A-1H Skyraider

Few aircraft have been known by so many names as the Skyraider. At various times in its career, it was designated the BT2D, AD (Able Dog), A -1, and was also affectionately called the Destroyer, Hobo, Spad, Sandy, and the Flying Dump Truck. The Douglas AD Skyraider was built to replace the SB2C Helldiver. It was the most powerful carrier based dive bomber ever built. Its single-engine with its three fuselage stations and six racks on each wing could carry a varied assortment of ordnance including bombs, rockets, mines, torpedos and napalms at weights greater than that of the four-engine B-17 Flying Fortress.
The Skyraider has acted on a large scale as a close support aircraft in the Korean and Vietnam campaigns. It was used to attack targets on the ground in Viet Cong strongholds in South Vietnam as well as in Cambodia and Laos. Another famous use of the Skyraider in Vietnam was in the recovery of downed aircrew and that is how it picked up the nickname "Sandy", which was its radio call-sign. Once the alert was given, a team of helicopters and Skyraiders was sent out to effect the rescue. "Sandy" provides the escort cover for the Sikorsky HH-53s (Jolly Greens) by laying down suppresive fire while the vulnerable helos plucked the downed aircrew members.You can catch some footage of this rescue/escort mission somewhere towards the end of the Paramount Pictures movie "Flight of the Intruder" . Watch carefully and listen to Lt. Cmdr. Virgil Cole (played by William Dafoe), radioing to the Skyraiders loitering overhead with this call:-

"Sandy Leader, this is Cole, 505,
Strafe where you can see, exterdict right away man......."

Though the Skyraider is a conventionally powered combat plane in a "Jet Age", its ability to stay aloft for many hours, then strike with unprecedented bomb-rocket-torpedo loads, has proved its effectiveness.
The XBT2D-1 (Dauntless II), which was the prototype of the Skyraider, was first flown by Douglas test-pilot La Verne Brown on 18th March 1945 and has since been produced in a variety of versions. The AD-1 to AD- 4 variants differed in detail. The basic version was the single seat AD- 4 strike aircraft. Other versions of the AD- 4 include the AD- 4B single seater and the AD- 4N (Killer), AD- 4Q (Hunter) and AD- 4W multi-seaters. The latter, a three-seat anti-submarine aircraft, has a large ventral dome. This version was used by the Fleet Air Arm under the designation Skyraider A.E.W.1.
In 1963, the United States Air Force began a program to modify the AD- 5 for service in Vietnam. After modification, the AD- 5 became to be known as a "multiplex" type aircraft. It had a wider cockpit, seating two side-by-side and several early versions had APS-20A radar with a rear cabin for 2 or 3 operators for Airborne Early Warning (AEW)missions. The AD- 5 was a very versatile aircraft and was easily adaptable for different roles ranging from ambulance, freight, transport to towing targets. The AD- 6 and AD-7 were improved single-seat versions used by the French Armee de l' Air in Algeria, Chad and Madagascar.
In 1962, Skyraiders were re-designated A-1D to A-1J. More than 3,100 were built and operated over a 23 year life-span (1945 ~ 1968).

AD- 5(A-1E) Skyraider Specifications
Length: 12.22 m
Height: 4.57 m
Wing span: 15.47 m
Wing area: 37.19 sq m
Cruise speed: 174.05 kts
Maximum speed: 270.27 kts
Rate of climb: 701.01 m/min
Service ceiling: 7,924.40 m
Range: 1,935 km
Powerplant: One Wright R-3350-26W89A cyclone
18 cylinder radial of 2,700 hp
  • Four M-3 20 mm cannons mounted in the wings.
  • Fifteen underwing & centre-line hardpoints for up to 8,000 lbs of bombs, gunpods or fuel tanks, various combinations of 5" High Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVAR) and two 12" Tiny Tims.

Douglas Skyraider Variants
XBT2D-1(AD-1) Prototype, first flew on 18 March 1945.
AD-3 Improved landing gear and new canopy design.
AD-3N Equipped for night attack.
AD-3Q Improved counter-measures equipment.
AD-3W Airborne early warning (AEW) equipment.
AD-4 (A-1D) Single-seat strike aircraft equipped with strengthened landing gear & improved radar.
AD-4N (Killer) Three-seater night attack primary mission.
AD-4Q (Hunter) Three-seater anti-submarine.
AD-4W Three-seater served with Fleet Air Arm as the Skyraider A.E.W.1
AD-5 (A-1E) Wider cockpit with side-by-side seating for co-pilot.
AD-5N (A-1G) Night Attack version.
AD-5W (EA-!E) Airborne early warning (AEW) version.
AD-6 (A-1H) Improved single-seat version used by the French Armee de l' Air in Algeria.
AD-7 (A-1J)

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This page was edited on Monday, 10 November 2003.

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