Air Weapons

Douglas

A-1 Skyraider

No better proof that piston-engined aircraft were still able to thrive in the jet era exists than the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. The "Spad", as it was called, was originally designed during World War II as a carrier based successor to the legendary Dauntless and combining the roles of dive bomber and torpedo bomber which had previously required different aircraft (similar capability existed in the contemporary AM Mauler). In the end, however, the Skyraider became not only an outstanding attack platform but was also used for early warning, anti-submarine, and electronic warfare in a service life which lasted until the 1970s, long after almost every other piston-engined tactical aircraft had been retired. Skyraiders performed the bulk of the US Navy and USMC's strike missions during the Korean War and went on to see additional service during the Vietnam War also: its ability to carry a substantial weapons load (on no less than 15 hardpoints) and to loiter over the battlefield gave it a distinct advantage compared to early jets, so much that it was even adopted by the USAF; a rare move considering the often strong inter-service rivalries that exist. Foreign operators included Cambodia, Central Africa Republic, Chad, France, Gabon, South Vietnam, and the UK, with the last US units retired only until 1972.

First flight of the XBT2D-1 Dauntless II took place on 18 March 1945 and was originally dubbed. The first production AD-1 units entered service the following year. They were progressively improved in later variants which included the AD-2 (new engines), AD-3 (strengthened fuselage), and AD-4 (new avionics). The AD-5 was a major redesign which incorporated side-by-side seating follwed by the final AD-6 and AD-7 attack variants. Early warning variants were known as the AD-3W and -4W (used by the RAF as the Skyraider AEW.1) and the -5W while other ECM variants were the AD-2Q, -3Q, -4Q, and -5Q. Other versions included the the night attack AD-3N, -4N, and -5N as well as the nuclear capable AD-4B. After 1962, the Skyraider became known as the A-1 and with the different variants redesignated as follows: A-1A (-1), A-1B (-2), A-1C (-3), A-1D (-4), A-1E (-5), A-1H (-6), A-1J (-7), A-1G (-5N), EA-1E (-5W), and EA-1F (-5Q).

A-1E
A-1H

Preceded by:

SB2C Helldiver (1942)
TBF Avenger (1942)

Succeeded by:

A-4 Skyhawk (1956)
A-6 Intruder (1963)

Datafile

DesignA-1BA-1EA-1H
NameSkyraiderSkyraiderSkyraider
TypeAttackAttackAttack
Year194819511956
Crew121
Dimensions
Length11.63 m11.63 m11.63 m
Height4.78 m4.78 m4.78 m
Wing Span15.24 m15.24 m15.24 m
Wing Area37.2 m²37.2 m²37.2 m²
Weight
Empty4,799 kg5,579 kg5,475 kg
Maximum8,301 kg11,340 kg11,340 kg
Wing Loading223.4 kg/m²305.2 kg/m²305.2 kg/m²
Performance
Speed517 km/h531 km/h550 km/h
Ceiling9,967 m7,986 m8,961 m
Range2,237 km4,876 km5,214 km
Powerplant
Engine1 x R-3350-26W
Wright
2,013 kW
1 x R-3350-26WA
Wright
2,013 kW
1 x R-3350-26WA
Wright
2,013 kW
Thrust/Weight0.510.440.45
Armament
Guns2 x 20-mm
M2 Hispano (200)
4 x 20-mm
M2 Hispano (200)
4 x 20-mm
M2 Hispano (200)
Payload3,629 kg3,629 kg3,629 kg
Hardpoints151515
Production
Built178670713
Total3,180

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