25 February 2020

Douglas A-4B Skyhawk: A Story of Simplicity

The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is an American jet attack fighter, developed in the mid 1950s as a contemporary replacement to the outdated AD Skyraider. Coming to War Thunder as part of the upcoming update 1.97, the A-4 Skyhawk will soon become available to all pilots and fans of American jet aircraft!

Briefly: The jet-powered successor to the AD Skyraider, following in the footsteps of its piston-engined predecessor by being able to carry highly impressive payload options.  

A-4B Skyhawk, jet fighter, USA, VI rank.

Pros

  • Great payload size
  • Wide assortment of weapon options

Cons

  • Subsonic
History

Development of the A-4 Skyhawk began in the early 1950s, after the U.S. Navy issued a set of specifications for a potential successor to the AD Skyraider. Douglas, being the manufacturer of the proven Skyraider, received the order to come up with a new jet-powered replacement, also capable of carrying nuclear ordnance. 

Taking up the task, Douglas developed the requested replacement within 2 years of the order coming in, and by doing so, developed an aircraft that was well under the allocated budget for the project and went well above the minimum requirements set out by specifications. The first prototype of the Skyhawk took to the skies in June 1954.

Highly impressed by the aircraft’s capabilities, relative simplicity and cost-effectiveness, the U.S. Navy officials didn’t wait long to sign the first production orders. As a result, the first A-4 Skyhawk production models rolled off the assembly lines in 1956 and entered official service with the U.S. Navy and USMC.

Already by the time the first production units were being completed, Douglas finished work on an improved variant of the Skyhawk - the A-4B. Among other changes and improvements, the B model of the Skyhawk allowed the aircraft to carry more sophisticated weapon systems, such as the AIM-9B Sidewinder AAMs as well as the AGM-12 Bullpup missiles.

In total, close to 3,000 A-4 Skyhawks were produced, participating in numerous conflicts, such as the Lebanese Crisis of 1958, the Vietnam War during the 1960s as well as in the Falklands War in 1982 under Argentine colors. The Skyhawks served for nearly five decades before being retired from U.S. service in the late 1990s and early 2000s, although the A-4 is still in limited use, being used as a mock aircraft, mimicking the MiG-17, for example.

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In War Thunder, the A-4B Skyhawk is a new addition inbound to Rank VI of the American aviation tree and is scheduled to arrive to the game with the release of update 1.97. Quick, nimble and light, yet capable of carrying a vast selection of secondary ordnance options, the A-4B Skyhawk is destined to soon become a favorite among both dogfighting aces as well as fans of ground attacking and close air support!

The heart and soul of the A-4B Skyhawk is its Wright J65-W-16A turbojet engine, producing 34.2 kN of thrust. In effect, this allows the machine to reach a top speed of 656 mph (1,056 km/h) at sea level. This, coupled with the Skyhawk’s good acceleration and overall maneuverability make it a suitable fighter for the intense aerial dogfights found at high rank battles - a role in which the Skyhawk successfully proved itself during its early service life.

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Fun Fact: During the Vietnam War, an A-4 Skyhawk shot down a North Vietnamese MiG-17 using a Zuni unguided rocket, marking the Skyhawks only air-to-air victory of the conflict.

The A-4B’s primary armament consists of two 20mm Colt Mk.12 cannons, situated in the aircraft’s wing roots. However, while the 20mm cannons will undoubtedly make short work of almost any opponent pilots may encounter in the air, their relatively low ammo capacity of just 100 rounds per barrel will demand a respectable amount of trigger discipline and accuracy from their operators!

Fortunately, the same doesn’t necessarily need to be said about the Skyhawk’s plethora of secondary ordnance options. These range from unguided rockets, such as the Mighty Mouse or Zunis, over guided missiles such as the familiar Bullpups and Sidewinder air-to-air missile to standard unguided bombs of calibers going up to 2,000lbs as well as additional 20mm gunpods. The Skyhawk is able to take up to three gunpods, the rate of fire of each gunpod is 4200 rounds per minute! In other words, no matter what the target of the day is, the Skyhawk offers a wide spectrum of potential options on how to deal with it - the pilot simply needs to pick his fancy!

The A-4B Skyhawk is coming to War Thunder at Rank VI of the American aviation tree, following the release of the upcoming update 1.97. In the meantime, make sure to stay tuned to the news for all the latest information regarding the next major update coming to the game very soon. Until then, clear skies pilots!


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