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A-4 Skyhawk Anniversary | Photos

Trainers and adversaries

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, and in fact the Douglas Aircraft Company’s Edward H. Heinemann had the design so right that Skyhawks are still in service today. A total of 2,960 were built, most serving with the Navy and Marine Corps, but 770 A-4s served with other air arms. While more advanced aircraft like the A-7 Corsair II and F/A-18 Hornet superseded the Skyhawk in the attack role, the little aircraft, with its agility and sparkling performance, retained roles as a trainer and adversary aircraft. Skyhawks flew as trainers for 30 years, with some 555 dual-control models manufactured, finally being fully replaced by the T-45 Goshawk in 1999, when the last catapult launch of a Skyhawk trainer took place. In their role as adversary aircraft, stripped down Skyhawks, usually flown without external tanks or pylons, and often fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408 engines, gained new nicknames like “Mongoose,” “Super Echo” and “Super Fox,” and served the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps into the 21st century.