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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Warpaint No.121 - Guideline Publications

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Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Warpaint No.121

Guideline Publications

 

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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was a carrier capable ground attack aircraft developed for the US Navy and US Marine Corps. It is a delta winged single engine aircraft. It was developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company originally under the A4D designation, latter changed to A-4. The A-4 was designed by Ed Heinemann to a 1952 US Navy specification for a carrier based attack aircraft capable of carrying heavy loads. For this an aircraft was to have a maximum weight of 30,000Lbs, and be capable of speeds up to 495 mph. Initially the Douglas design with a specified weight of only 20000 Lbs greeted with scepticism. Ed Heinemann had in fact designed a very small aircraft. This was to be roughly half the weight of its contemporaries. In fact the wings were so short they did not need to fold for stowage below decks. Having a non-folding wing eliminated the heavy wing folds seen in other aircraft, one reason for a low overall weight. The prototype also exceed the maximum speed the US Navy had specified. In fact not long after the aircraft would set a new world record of 695 mph for circuit flying, bettering the specification by 200 mph. 

  

The A-4A was the initial production aircraft with 166 being built. The A-4B was ordered with additional improvements over the initial design. These were to be; Stronger rudder construction, a pressure fuelling system incorporating a probe for in-flight refuelling, external fuel tanks, stronger landing gear, additional navigation equipment, an improved ordnance delivery system, and an external buddy refuelling package. A total of 542 A-4Bs were to be made with fleet deliveries beginning in 1957 only a year after the first A-4B flight was made. US Navy A-4Bs were later supplied to Argentina using the A-4Q designation for aircraft destined for the Navy; and A-4P for those destined for the Air Force.  The USN would follow with the upgraded A-4C, then the A-4E with its distinctive avionics hump, and new engine. This was refined to the A-4F where it would be famously used by the Blue Angels. 

 

Other notable versions would be the A-4G for the Royal Australian Navy, the A-4H for the Israeli Air Force, the A-4K for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the A-4M for the USMC. In total over 3000 A-4s were produced by Douglas later becoming McDonnell Douglas. The A-4 went on to fight with the US Navy in the Vietnam war, with the Israeli Air Force in the Yom Kippur War, with the Argentinean Air Force in the Falkland’s War, and the Kuwaiti Air Force in the Gulf War. Skyhawks were used by, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Malaysia, and Singapore. Last use by the US Navy was in the aggressor role made famous by the Top Gun Film. Some are still in service today with some of the private contractors who have sprung up in recent years to supply services to various countries. 

 

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This new publication the Warpaint series is the largest one to date with 144 pages. The history of the aircraft and its many users has warranted a larger publication in order to produce a comprehensive publication.  To make this review transparent I know the author and can attest to the amount of research he put into the book, contacting Air Arms, serving and retired pilots of the aircraft and current users where possible to gain information and to check facts. In fact some members of Britmodeller were able to supply information and photos regarding some of the current civilian users for the aircraft.  Contained in the 144 pages are a wealth of Black & White photos, as well as colour ones. There is the usual walkaround pages plus 10 full pages of excellent colour aircraft profiles from Richard Caruana.

 

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Conclusion

The Warpaint series always gets a thumbs-up due to their inability to produce a dud! They are always well written and informative with a wealth of pictures and profiles, this edition also having 1/72 scale plans at the centre and a small section of detailed photos at the end. The longer book in this case is certainly welcome as it gives a truer picture of this famous aircraft.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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