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A-4 Skyhawk 60th Anniversary | Photos

U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Skyhawks

Tinkertoy, Scooter, Bantam Bomber, Mighty Midget, Mighty Mite, Heinemann’s Hot Rod, and other affectionate names were given to the A-4 Skyhawk, which first flew on June 22, 1954. The little Skyhawk was originally designed to carry a single tactical nuclear weapon from the deck of an aircraft carrier to its target, not necessarily to return to its carrier. “One engine, one man, one way nuclear bomber” was a phrase used to describe the mission, but the design of the Skyhawk was so right that it was easily adapted to take on other roles, and in fact Skyhawks are still in service today. The Douglas Aircraft Company’s Edward H. Heinemann, who also was partially or completely responsible for the design of the SBD Dauntless, A-20 Boston, A-26 Invader, AD Skyraider, A3D Skywarrior, F4D Skyray and others, outdid himself with the Skyhawk. It far exceeded Navy expectations. Skyhawks formed the backbone of Navy light attack squadrons during the Vietnam War, and later versions flew as trainers and aggressor aircraft, in the latter role into the 21st century in U.S. service. A total of 2,960 were built, most serving with the Navy and Marine Corps, but 770 A-4s served with other air arms.

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Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...