Technical Data


Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Technical Data

This page is dedicated to
Mr. Robert O. Rahn

Please read about him below.

Original R.G. Smith
Skyhawk Concept Blueprint

R.G. Smith A4D-1 Sketch

Breakdown/Re-mating an A-4

Example of a some A-4 Misc. Parts List.

Variant differences by Gabby

Variant A4D-1
Carlos A. Garcia
A-4L A4D-5
A-4F A-4M Drwg1
A-4M Drwg2
Length 39'4" 39'4" 40'1" 40'1" 41'3" 41'3" 41'3" 43'7" 43'7"
Wing Span 27'6" 27'6" 27'6" 27'6" 27'6" 27'6" 27'6" 27'6" 27'6"
Main Lndg Gr Width 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5" 7'9.5"
Empty weight (lbs) 8,400 9,146 9,728 9,728 9,853 10,448 10,465 10,602  
Engine Curtiss-Wright J65-W-16A Curtiss-Wright J65-W-16A Curtiss-Wright J65-W-16A Curtiss-Wright J65-W-20 Pratt Whitney J52-P6A Pratt Whitney J52-P8A/8B Pratt Whitney J52-P408 Pratt Whitney J52-P8A/8B Pratt Whitney J52-P6A
Static Thrust (lbs) 7,700 7,700 7,700 8,400 8,500 9,300 11,200 9,300 8,500
Engine Upgrade (some) None J65-W-20 J65-W-20   J52-P-8A, 8B J52-P-408 None J52-P-8A, 8B None
Intakes Flush Flush Flush Flush Separated Separated Separated Separated Separated
Max level mph 664 661 649 649 673 673 673 675  
Elevator Boosted Powered Powered Powered Powered Powered Powered Powered Powered
Extendable Control Stick Yes Yes No No No No No No No
Nose Wheel Steering No No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Drag Chute No No No No No No Yes No No
Internal Fuel (gal) 810 810 810 810 810 810   670 670
Wng Fuel Sensors 2 2 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Refueling Probe No Yes Yes Yes Yes yes yes Yes Yes
Stabilizer Trim (degrees) 12up,1dwn 11up,1dwn 11up,1dwn 11up,1dwn 12.25up,1dwn 12.25up,1dwn 12.25up,1dwn 12.25up,1dwn 11up,1dwn
Spoilers No No No Yes No,(AFC442) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ext. Stations 3 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 3
JATO No No Some Provisions Only Partial Provisions Some Provisions Only Partial Provisions Complete Provisions Partial Provisions Some Provisions Only
Oxygen 5 Litre 5 Litre 10 Litre 10 Litre 10 Litre 10 Litre 10 Litre 10 Litre 10 Litre


Fuselage fuel tank was directly behind the cockpit, and utilized one fuel gauge sensor in all variants. This tank was smaller in the two seat variants. Pilots referred to this fuel tank as "The Bag" as it was bladder type.

In the A-4A, the aileron was powered by a single system. All subsequent models the aileron was tandem powered.
The Control Stick Grip Functions.

AOA Pic1 Pic2 Pic3 Pic4

AFC 442 incl Spoilers

TAIL PIPE Variations

Tail Pipe Extension (Israel)

Skyhawk Hydraulics System

Skyhawk Electrical System

Engine Start Capabilities

All US Skyhawks with the exception of the A-4M required an external start cart in order to start the engine. Some of the earliest models also were required to carry a starter probe in the rear "hell hole" which was a gear mechanism that was placed in the right wing root in order to turn the engine before adding fuel and then re-stowed after start. The A-4M had its own starter along with a very small pump handle that had to be attached to the JFS (Jet Fuel Starter) and hand pumped whenever the start was not successful on the first attempt.

1961 Flying Ubangis Skyhawk BuNo 142719, AB-402, is manned and ready to go as the line division clears the area of starter probes and the boarding ladder.

BuNo142085 at NAF China Lake with a good view of the starter probe installed in the right wing root.

13MAR63: China Lake Skyhawk BuNo 147680 and Shrike test pilot LCDR Jack Sickel. Navy photo from J.A. Sickel Jr. Starter probe installed and commencted to a turbine starter.

CVA-19 South China Sea, NF-402 gets a start from a flight deck "Huffer", using a starter probe. 

Flight deck "Huffer" starts BuNo 150062,  VA-155 NL-502, a A-4E with no starter probe -1967-68. .

The A-4A, B, C utilized the starter probe. Starting with the A-4E model the probe was no longer necessary, and the ground unit provided compressed air hose was connected directly to the a/c. There were several types of units that provided compressed air for starting a/c. One, the "Mobile Gas Turbine Compressor (GTC) was shaped like a a/c drop tank and could be carried on the centerline or inboard wing store racks of the Skyhawk. If carried on the centerline carrier landings were permitted. If carried on the inboard wing stations, carrier landings were not permitted. Thus a Skyhawk could carry a GTC along to another air station to provide compressed air for starting the engine.

Yellow Gear

RNZAF Official photos via Don Simms.

RNZAF N2 (nitrogen gas) rig next to fuel tank vent trolley.

Sprauge Hydraulic Serviving Rig, operators side.

Egress Systems [Early seats = Cartridge Seat, RAPEC]
A-4A,B,C,E = Escapac 1, 1A-1;
A-4F, TA-4F = Escapac IC-3; IF-3, IG-3


External Plyons:
Centerline Aero 7A (suspension= 14 and 30 inch)
Centerline w LB-18A Camera POD
Wings Aero 20A (suspension= 14 inch)
A-4E and A-4F reworked per AFC 546 and AAC-614 had a modified centerline plyon with the LB-18A Camera Pod. This pod contained either a DBM-4A 16mm Motion Camera or a KB-10A Still Camera

Maximum External Load Capacities:
Fuselage Centerline Station (all models) = 3,500 lbs
2 Inboard Wing Stations (all models) = 2,200 lbs (ea.)
2 Outboard Wing Stations (all except A/B/C/P/Q) = 1,000 lbs (ea.)

External Fuel Tanks: (Useable)
150gal Aero 1C Drop Tank - 147gal
300gal Aero 1D Drop Tank - 295gal (P/N 22548000?)
Centerline 400gal Drop Tank - 396gal

The Buddy Store Pioneered by Douglas and the A-4 Skyhawk, the air refueling system enables the carrying aircraft to serve as a tanker for other aircraft. All fuel in the Skyhawk tanker aircraft, except the fuselage tank, may be transferred to the receiver aircraft.
The refueling store (Buddy Store) carried on the center-line rack contains a 300 gallon fuel cell, a constant speed ram air turbine-driven hydraulic pump, a hydraulically driven fuel pump, a hydraulically operated hose reel, and 50 feet of refueling hose with a droque.
The store is capable of transferring fuel at aprox. 180 gallons per minute. Provisions are made for dumping fuel when necessary. The operational envelope of the store with the droque extended is limited to 300KIAS or .8 MACH, which ever is lower up to 35,000 feet.
The air turbine that powers the 700-pound in-flight re-fueling package will be able to transfer about 6000 pounds of fuel from the center-line and wing tanks, as well as part of the internal load of 5400 pounds in the wings and fuselage. The tanker will weigh about 23,700 pounds on the catapult. When it reaches the bow, its speed will be about 150 knots (173 mph). It was SOP (standard operating procedure) to launch one tanker in each launch-recovery cycle. In combat, the air wing would launch two or three Skyhawk tankers if several divisions of aircraft were attacking well-defended targets. During the years that the Skyhawk tanker was operational, its pilots prevented innumerable aircraft losses due to fuel exhaustion. The most common causes of "low-state" were additional approaches needed for safe landings on a pitching deck, delay for clearing a crash on deck, using extra fuel in evading SAMs and MIGs, and fuel loss from battle damage. 1968: Hornets Skyhawk BuNo 142105 refueling an RA-3B Skywarrior. U.S. Navy by PH2 Don K-Sieburg, Jr.

Center-line "Buddy Store" (re-fueling pod)

Wing station with a External Baggage Container, CNU-188/A (Blivet)

This photo shows a PPCP (Pilot's Personal Cargo Pod) being studied for a Weather Survey Pod.

The A4 in the 7X10 foot transonic wind tunnel at the David W Taylor Model Basin in Carderock, MD circa 1961-64. Above picture, I believe, is with a Walleye. Donald Henry

Variant Avionics Comparison

Variant A-4A A-4B A-4C A-4L A-4E A-4F A-4M TA-4F TA-4J
Upper Avionics Bay No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
AFCS No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Radar No No AN/APG-53A AN/APG-53A AN/APG-53A AN/APG-53A AN/APG-53A,
Provisions Only
Video IP-936/AXQ No No No Some Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only No Provisions Only
Comm Gear RT-355/
Nav Cmptr None AN/ASN-19A AN/ASN-19A AN/ASN41 AN/ASN-19A/AN/ASN41 AN/ASN41 Provisions Only Provisions Only AN/ASN-19A
IFF RT-354/
AN/APX-64(V RT-354/
AN/APX-64(V) AN/APX-72(V) AN/APX-64(V)
APC AN/ASN-54 No No Yes Provisions Only Yes Yes Provisions Only Provisions Only Yes
Doppler AN/APN-153 No No No Yes Some Yes Provisions Only Provisions Only No
TACAN AN/ARN-21D No No Yes Some Yes Provisions Only Provisions Only No
RADAR Altimeter No AN APN-141 AN APN-141 AN APN-141 AN APN-141 AN APN-141 AN APN-141 AN APN-194 AN APN-141 AN APN-141
AIMS No No AFC-482 Partial Provisions AFC-482 Partial Provisions Provisions Only Partial Provisions AFC-482
ECM No No Provisions Only Some Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only No Provisions Only

Skyhawk Avionics

A-4M BuNo 158182 Nose Hardware



Close-up ARBS on China Lake Skyhawk BuNo 159485.


Variant Weapons Delivery Capability

If You Aint Ordnance You Aint ----!

Skyhawk Ordnance Page

baumbeck-gun pod-repair.jpg
Baumbeck doing Gun Pod Repair


Variant A-4A A-4B A-4C A-4L A-4E A-4F A-4M TA-4F TA-4J
Guns 20MM 200rds 20MM 200rds 20MM 200rds 20MM 200rds 20MM 200rds 20MM 200rds 20MM 400rds 20MM 200rds 20MM 200rds
Ext. Stations 3 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 3
CP-741/A No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Provisions Only Yes
Special Weapons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sidewinder No No Some
No No Two Stations
No No Some
Bullpup No Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only No Provisions Only
GCBS No Some Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Yes No Provisions Only
Shrike No No Limited Yes Yes Yes Yes Provisions Only Yes
Walleye No No No Some Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only Provisions Only No Provisions Only

1965: VA-64 Black Lancers A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo unknown), AE-608, and VA-66 Waldos A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo unknown), AE-503, in the background as Ordies move an iron bomb across the deck of the USS America somewhere in the Med. USS America CVA-66 Cruise Book photo from Jack R. Hansen.
Good shot of one of the America's bomb elevators. From the flight deck down to the 2nd deck, one deck below the hangar deck. At the 2nd deck, the ordnance is transferred from a second elevator that runs from the 2nd deck to the ordnance storage areas several decks below. Thus no direct path from the flight deck to the ordnance storage areas, in case of of fire and/or explosions.

Non-Domestic Variants

Arg. A-4P (B) Arg A-4C Arg. Navy A-4Q (B) A-4AR (M) A-4KU (M) A-4G (F) A-4K (F)
A-4H (E) A-4H (F) A-4PTM (B) A-4S (B) A-4PTM (C) A-4S (C) AF-1


This Skyhawk webpage is dedicated to
Douglas Test Pilot Robert O. Rahn,
the first pilot to fly the A-4 Skyhawk, the Ferrari of airplanes.

Test pilot Bob Rahn is pictured in the first A-4, XA4D-1 BuNo. 137812 shortly after the first Skyhawk flight.
June 22, 1954.
(Harry Gann photo)

Robert O. Rahn, first pilot to fly the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, passed away at age 77 on Thursday, May 21, 1998, a victim of ALS (Lou Gehrig disease).

Around the Douglas Aircraft Company flight test department, Bob had the reputation as being "a cool and thorough pilot."  There were several instances in the flight test programs of the AD Skyraider, the F4D Skyray, and the A4D Skyhawk where his unflappable demeanor during test flight emergencies literally saved the programs.  Bob also participated in the F3D Skyknight and F5D Skylancer flight test programs.

Born in Harvey, Illinois, on December 29, 1920, Bob attended the University of Cincinnati, intending to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  While there, he learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and, in early 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and entered flight training.  After graduating, he became a member of the first United States fighter group to deploy to England, where he flew the Spitfire with the 309 Fighter Squadron.

After completing his overseas tour, Rahn returned to the U.S. and wrangled an assignment to Wright Field to attend the United States Air Force Test Pilots School.  With World War II all but over, in August 1945 Bob accepted employment as a test pilot at Douglas Aircraft Company, where he subsequently made first flights in 18 different aircraft between 1946 and 1956. In 1957 he joined the Rockwell Company as an Apollo Space Capsule simulator research pilot.  Rahn retired from the aircraft industry in 1984 to devote much of his time to skiing and flying his Navion aircraft in speed enhancement and point to point flight competition with other Navion owners.

Among the group of World War II pilots who bridged the gap between the "seat-of-the-pants" pilots and the engineer-scientist aviators that now conduct aircraft flight tests, Bob Rahn accumulated many honors in his flying career.  He was inducted into the Navy Test Pilots Hall of Honor, set a world speed record in the Douglas F4D Skyray, served as a founding member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, was a charter member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, and an original member of the Skyhawk Association.

Bob Rahn was characterized as "a pilot who knew what was going on, able to tell the engineers what the problems were in their own terms."

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