Douglas A-1D Skyraider

Model: AD-4NA/A-1D
Year Built: 1952
Bureau #: 126882
Construction #: 7682
Civil Registration: N91945

Specifications & History

Wing Span: 50 ft
Length: 39 feet 3 inches
Engine: Wright R-3350-26WA "Cyclone",
18-cylinder, dual-row radial, 2,700hp
Empty Weight: 11,970 pounds
Gross Weight: 25,000 pounds
Maximum Speed: 402 knots (462mph)
Range: 1,400 nautical miles
Crew: 1-4 depending on model
Number Built: 3,180

The Skyraider was originally designed in the 1940s by Ed Heinemann of the Douglas Aircraft Company. At the time of the first prototype's flight on 18 March 1945, it was the largest production single-seater aircraft. The low-wing monoplane design started with a Wright R-3350 radial engine, later upgraded multiple times. Its distinctive feature was the presence of seven hardpoints on each wing, enabling it to carry a tremendous amount of ordnance for its size. The Skyraider could carry as much bomb load as a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress typically carried. It was also capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

It carried various nicknames including "Spad" (a model of airplane flown in World War I); Able Dog (phonetic AD); the Destroyer; Hobo (radio call sign of the USAF 1st Air Commando/Special operations Squadron); Firefly (602nd ACS/SOS); Zorro (22nd SOS); The Big Gun; Old Faithful; Old Miscellaneous; Fat Face (AD-5/A-1E version, side-by-side seating); Guppy (AD-5W version); Q-Bird (AD-1Q/AD-5Q versions); Flying Dumptruck (A-1E); Sandy (Combat Search And Rescue helicopter escort); Crazy Water Buffalo (South Vietnamese nickname).

Although the Skyraider entered production too late for Tactive service in World War II, it turned out to be of great value in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as its weapon load and 10-hour flying time far surpassed the jets that were available at the time.

On 9 October 1966, four VA-176 A-1H Skyraiders from the USS Intrepid were vectored deep into North Vietnam to cover a rescue helicopter trying to reach a downed F-4 Phantom II crew. After pushing through a brief flak barrage, the Spad lead flight pushed further inland where they were set up by four MIG-17s. In the ensuing maneuvers which twisted down to tree top level, the opponents separated and two of the jets were heavily damaged at the hands of the Spad flight leader and his wingman. Seconds later, tail-end element Lt.(jg) Tom Patton in Spad "09" (BuNo 13543) reached the flight and dropped down on the last MIG, skimming just above the jungle. The enemy pilot attempted a climbing turn followed with a reverse turn which negated all of the MIG's speed. Patton skillfully split-Sed into point blank range at six o'clock and closed to within 100 feet of the silver intruder. After gutting his target with the last of his 20mm ammo, Patton even tried for a coup de grace with four of his Zuni rockets, but missed. The riddles MIG rolled over and plunged out of sight through a low hanging cloud. After a quick turn beneath the thin cloud bank, the victorious Navy aviator caught a glimpse of the MIG driver drifting into the jungle beneath his parachute. 

History of Douglas AD-4NA (A-1D) BuNo. 126882

10 July 1952 to 27 March 1953 Originally assigned to VA-95. During this time VA-95 was assigned to Carrier Air Group 9,
aboard the USS Phillipine Sea (CV-47).
23 March 1953 126882 damaged by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Repaired in field.
27 March 1953 Sustained significant damage requiring major repair at Alameda NAS prior to being returned to flight status.
20 December 1963 CVG-9 redesignated CVW-9 when Carrier Air Group (CVG) designations are redesignated Carrier Air Wings (CVW).
05 August 1964 CVW-9 deployed to Yankee Station on off the coast of Vietnam aboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61).
Late 1960s to 1977 Released to the French Air Force.
126882 saw further action in SE Asia until flown back to the United States from France in 1977.
9 March 1977 Delivered to USA from Chateaudub AB, France via Dublin.
1977-1984 Purchased by Jack Spanich, Detroit, MI. - Registered as N91945.
1982 Badly damaged during landing accident.
1985-1992 Purchased by Doan Helicopters Inc, New Smyrna Beach, FL, 1985-1992.
Rebuilt and flown as 37543/AK-409/USS Intrepid.
4 April 1992 Crashed Titusville, FL, Apr. 4, 1992.
unknown Purchased by Robert Heckendorf of Denver, CO
Rebuilt and painted in current colors
2002 Purchased by Rick Sharpe for the Marine Aviation Museum
Based at Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, TX.