The Douglas "Skyraider" was a design submitted to the U.S. Navy as a replacement for the famous SBD dive-bomber. Originally designated as the XBT2D-1, the new aircraft made its maiden flight on March 18, 1945, two weeks ahead of schedule. It was the most powerful carrier-based aircraft ever built. Its single engine with its three fuselage stations and six racks on each wing could carry varied assortments of ordnance including rockets, mines, torpedoes, bombs, and napalms. In fact, it could carry more ordnance weight that that of the famous Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The Navy gave Douglas a letter of intent of 543 aircraft, but the order was reduced to 277 after VJ (Victory in Japan) Day. In 1946, the aircraft was designated as "AD-1."
The Remaining Years (Korea and Vietnam):
Few aircraft have been known by so many names as the Skyraider. At various times in its career, it was designated the BT2D, AD (Able Dog), A -1, and was also affectionately called the Destroyer, Hobo, Spad, Sandy, and the Flying Dump Truck.
Following the AD-1 came 178 AD-2s, 193 AD-3s and 1,051 AD-4s. These performed various roles as daytime and all-weather attack, radar patrol, and electronic countermeasures. In 1951 the variant two-seater AD-5 appeared, with a bigger cabin, and a year later production resumed with 713 single-seater AD-6 versions. The last version was the 72 AD-7s in 1955.
The Skyraider performed well in Korea by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It was described as the best close-support and interdiction aircraft in the world at that time. During one mission, ADs destroyed the floodgates of the Hwachon Dam using torpedoes. This precluded the enemy from flooding two valleys and holding back the American advance.
In Vietnam, the Skyraider was employed by both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. From carriers in the South China Sea, the Skyraiders carried out bombing strikes and close air support operations. It was used in operations against the Viet Cong strongholds in South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. It picked up its famous call-sign "Sandy" as an integral element in the recovery of downed aircrew. It joined a team of helicopters in the rescue effort. it provided suppressive fire on the enemy while U.S. Air Force Sikorsky HH-3s (Jolly Greens) and Sikorsky HH-53s (Super Jolly Greens) plucked the down aircrew members.
Despite being a propeller-powered aircraft, A-1H Skyraiders of the 77th Task Force hold the incredible feat of shooting down two Mig 17s.
The Navy used the Skyraider up until April 1968, completing over 100,000 missions over Vietnam. Surplus Skyraiders were turn over to the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). The U.S. Air Force continued to use the Skyraider in rescue operations.
|Source: Midwest Wild Relics Refuge|