Its Weapons Were Half Its Weight – Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Leading Douglas aviation engineer Ed Heinemann wanted to take a different approach when designing a replacement for the Navy’s AD1 Skyraider warplanes in 1952. In a bold proposal, he decided to replace one of the biggest single-engine fighter-bombers ever built with one of the smallest, lightest attack jets to date. Military aviation history shows that sometimes going cheap is the ideal call, and there is no better proof than the fascinating case of the A-4 Skyhawk, one of the most influential warplanes in American history. The Skyhawk’s modest but trusty array of features would engrave its place in the canon of aviation annals as the US Navy’s workhorse aircraft during the Vietnam War, flown by notable pilots such as Lieutenant Commander John McCain. To this date, the cheap but ubiquitous warplane known as “Tinkertoy Jet” is fondly remembered as it valiantly swooped down over the dangerous Vietnamese jungles to deliver American firepower to the most remote enemy entrenchments of the Indochina peninsula. The Skyhawk was neither extremely fast nor particularly agile or technologically groundbreaking. Still, it was small, versatile, reliable, and almost half its weight were weapons!