Douglas XBT2D-l Destroyer II / AD / A-1 Skyraider
In a meeting at the Navy Department, Ed Heinemann got an idea, and during a coffee break, he approached some of the brass with it: let Douglas cancel the BTD-1 and design a dive bomber the way it ought to be built. Heinemann knew he had stirred some interest, and when the meeting reconvened, a Marine colonel spoke up and asked that Heinemann be allowed to present an idea "that has a lot of merit." When Heinemann was finished, he sat back and waited. Only one part of his proposal would cause a problem: he had specified a Pratt & Whitney engine. The Navy had already contracted to buy a large number of Curtiss-Wright engines, and if he wished to get the job, he would have to use the Wright.
Flown for the first time in prototype form as the XBT2D-l on 18 March 1945, the type was ordered into production just one month later. At first the 25 prototypes were named Destroyer IIs but this was changed to Skyraider shortly before nearly 600 were ordered.
At the end of the war with Japan the 600 ordered was reduced to 242 AD-1s (as it was now redesignated) with 35 AD-1Qs. Radar-equipped machines were designated AD-1W whilst the strike version - the AD-2 - was also built. There then followed other versions such as the AD-2Q, AD-2QU, AD-3, AD-3N, AD-3Q, AD-3w, AD-4, AD-4B, AD-4n, AD-4Q and AD-4W. The AD-2Q carried radar countermeasures equipment and the AD-3 was something quite different with a turboprop engine. The AD-4W was supplied to the Royal Navy and served as the AEW-1. The side by side seating of the AD-5 (redesignated A-1E) and EA-1E (formerly the AD-5W) were for many purposes. The single seater AD-6/A-1H and the final AD-7, A-1J were delivered in 1957.
The Skyraider entered service with Attack Squadron VA-1B in 1947. A total of 3,180 Skyraiders were completed between 1945 and February 1957, when the assembly line finally closed. These aircraft saw service with the US Air Force, the US Navy and the US Marine Corps as well as overseas air arms including those of France, South Vietnam and the UK.
Skyraiders were supplied to the Royal Navy under MDAP during the Korean Emegency for radar picket duties, until replaced by the Fairey Gannet AEW.3.
Royal Navy Douglas Skyraider
Douglas AD-5 Skyraider
Single-seat attack aircraft such as the AD-1, AD-6 and AD-7, there was also the multi-place AD-5. Flown for the first time in August 1951, variants of the AD-5 subsequently performed AEW (AD-5W), ECM (AD-5Q), day attack (AD-5) and night attack (AD-5N) missions amongst other tasks, making it easily the most versatile model of this remarkable warplane. In 1962 the type was redesignated A-1.
The new Douglas factory at Torrance (Plant B-6) in May 1954 was in volume production with both the AD-5 and 6 Skyraider and the F4D-1 Skyray, the latter with the J57 turbojet with afterburner. This leaves the El Segundo division almost clear to turn out twin-jet Skywarriors. The U.S.A.F. version of this machine (B-66) is made at Long Beach, and the main factory, at Santa Monica, makes Globemasters and DC-7s.
The Skyraider went out of USN service in 1969 with the last actually leaving in 1971. During the period awaiting the arrival of the Gannet the Royal Navy used Skyraider AEW-1 and Avenger aircraft to bridge the gap in November of 1951. 50 machines started arriving, and these ex-AD 4Ws formed 778 Squadron at RNAS Culdrose. During 1953 the squadron had five flights with a total of 39 Skyraiders having by then been delivered - the remainder coming during 1956. By 1959, they were being phased out, but 12 of them were sold to Sweden as target tugs and remained in service until the late 70s.
It was the conflict in Vietnam which saw the aircraft that the USN had withdrawn in 1968 being purchased by the USAF and a number of A-1E/AD-5, A-1H/AD-6 and A-1J/AD-7 saw active service after what was supposed to be the end of their career. Others were supplied to the South Vietnam air force. A-1s were in Africa with the French as late as 1973 and many of these machines were transferred to the forces of Chad, Khmer and The Central African Republic.
When the US tri-service designations were rationalised in 1962, AD-1 to AD-7 versions became redesignated from A-1A to A-1J. Douglas eventually built 3,818 of the AD Skyraider prior to production termination in 1957.
Max gross wt: 18,030 lb (8177 kg).
Engine: Wright R3350-26W, 3,150 h.p.
Wingspan: 50 ft
Length: 39 ft. 3.75 in.
Loaded weight: 16,667 lb
Max. speed: 365 m.p.h.
Ceiling: 25,000 ft.
Range: over 1,500 miles.
Armament: 2x20 mm cannon
Bombload: 6,000 lb
Powerplant: one 3,050-hp (2274-kW) Wright R-3350-26WB radial piston.
Maximum speed 552 krn/h(343 mph) at 6095 m (20,000 ft)
Service ceiling 7740 m (25,400 ft)
Range 2092 km (1,300 miles)
Empty weight 5486 kg (12,094 lb)
Max take-off weight 11340 kg (25,000 lb)
Span 15.25 m (50 ft 0.25 in)
Length 11.84 m (38 ft 10 in)
Height 4.78 m(15 ft 8.25 in)
Wingarea 37.2 sq.m (400.33 sq ft)
Armament: four 20-mm cannon
Hardpoints: 15 up to 3629 kg (8,000 lb)
A 1 J Skyraider
Length : 38.845 ft / 11.84 m
Height : 15.682 ft / 4.78 m
Wingspan : 50.755 ft / 15.47 m
Wing area : 402.574 sq.ft / 37.4 sq.m
Max take off weight : 25004.7 lb / 11340.0 kg
Weight empty : 12550.9 lb / 5692.0 kg
Max. speed : 276 kt / 512 km/h
Cruising speed : 164 kt / 303 km/h
Service ceiling : 31168 ft / 9500 m
Cruising altitude : 5906 ft / 1800 m
Engine: 1 x Wright R-3350-26WA, 1985kW
Max take-off weight: 11340 kg / 25001 lb
Empty weight: 4785 kg / 10549 lb
Wingspan: 15.47 m / 50 ft 9 in
Length: 11.84 m / 38 ft 10 in
Height: 4.78 m / 15 ft 8 in
Wing area: 37.16 sq.m / 399.99 sq ft
Max. speed: 515 km/h / 320 mph
Ceiling: 7740 m / 25400 ft
Range: 1448 km / 900 miles
Armament: 4 x 20mm cannon, 3629kg of bombs