The little Douglas A-4 Skyhawk first flew on June 22, 1954, and 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. The Skyhawk was so right that it was easily adapted to take on other roles, and in fact Skyhawks are still in service today. 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. The Skyhawk’s diminutive size, light weight, and simplicity made it attractive both to nations employing smaller British World War II-built carriers as well as those who wanted a reliable, high-performance fighter bomber to operate from land bases. In addition to the United States, four foreign nations (Argentina, Indonesia, Israel, and Kuwait) flew the Skyhawk in combat, where it acquitted itself well.
A-4 Skyhawk 60th Anniversary | Photos
A Royal Australian Navy Douglas A-4G Skyhawk lands on the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) in 1980. This Skyhawk was particularly long-lived, originally delivered to the U.S. Navy as an A-4F, served in Vietnam with attack squadrons VA-155 Silver Foxes and VA-212 Rampant Raiders, was then delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in August 1971 as A-4G N13-155063, No. 876. It served with RAN fighter squadron VF-805 starting on 13 May 1974. "876" was withdrawn from RAN service on 30 June 1983 and stored for sale.In July 1984 it was delivered to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) as NZ6217, designated A-4K. It received the "Kahu"-upgrade and was retired by the RNZAF in 2001/2002. Photo by Nick Thorne A TA-4K Skyhawk aircraft of the 75th Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force, evades simulated anti-aircraft missiles at the Crow Valley Electronic Warfare Tactical Range, the Philippines, during Exercise Cope Thunder, Sept. 10, 1984. U.S. Department of Defense photo A Royal New Zealand Air Force A-4 Skyhawk takes off from Royal Australian Air Force Base, Darwin, Australia, during Exercise Pitch Black '84, April 22, 1984. RNZAF Skyhawks underwent the "Kahu" upgrade to allow carriage of precision munitions, and added a HUD, an APG-66 radar and AIM-9L Sidewinder missile capability, among other modifications. U.S. Department of Defense photo by Master Sgt. David N. Craft An Israeli Air Force A-4 Skyhawk flying over the clouds near Hatzerim Airbase, Israel, Jan. 20, 2010. Israeli Air Force photo A pair of Israeli Air Force A-4 Skyhawks, Nov. 16, 2006. When the Skyhawk grew long in the tooth for combat, it became an advanced trainer for the IDF AF. It is to be replaced by the M-346. Israeli Air Force photo Four Israeli Air Force A-4 Skyhawks ready to depart from Hatzerim Airbase, Israel, June, 22, 2010. Israeli Air Force photo A Republic of Singapore Air Force TA-4SU Skyhawk trainer launches during Cope Tiger 2002, Wing 1 Air Base Korat, Thailand, Jan. 22, 2002. The TA-4SU was developed from the A-4B, with a 28-inch fuselage extension and a second canopy. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeff Clonkey Republic of Singapore Air Force TA-4SU and A-4SU Super Skyhawks prepare to take off during Cope Tiger 2003, Feb. 26, 2003. Singapore's modernization of the Skyhawk included installation of an F404 engine, which considerably improved performance. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr. A Kuwaiti Air Force pilot taxis his A-4 Skyhawk toward the runway during Operation Desert Shield, April 1, 1992. Kuwaiti Skyhawks saw extensive action during the war. U.S. Department of Defense photo by Sgt. Jeff Wright An A-4KU Skyhawk embarked on the Brazilian aircraft carrier BNS Sao Paulo (A12) performs a touch and go landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), June 8, 2004. The Brazilian navy purchased 23 former Kuwaiti Skyhawks, designated AF-1 and AF-1A in Brazilian navy service. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class John S. Lill An Argentine Air Force A-4AR Fightinghawk during the Air Fest 2010 show at Moron Air Base, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Fightinghawks are modified A-4Ms with a variant of the APG-66 radar, HUD, HOTAS, a new flight computer, and other modifications. Photo by Jorge Alberto Leonardi The first Royal Malaysian Air Force TA-4PTM Skyhawk in flight, ca. 1985. The TA-4PTM was a conversion of A-4C/L airframes with a cockpit similar to the TA-4F/J. The aircraft were modernized at the Grumman facility in St. Augustine, Fla. National Museum of Naval Aviation photo