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The Skyraider served as an attack aircraft during Korea and Vietnam and was known for its ability to carry more ordinance than a B-17. 

The prototype of the Skyraider was first flown on 18 March 1945. Designed as a robust, multi-role attack aircraft for the US Navy, the carrier-based Skyraider was able to carry a wide variety of weapons on its numerous wing hard points. It is well known for its ability to carry more ordinance than a World War II B-17.

The first Skyraider was delivered in 1946 and named according to the Douglas tradition of starting the names of Navy aircraft with “sky.”  Before production ceased in 1957, Douglas built 3,180 Skyraiders in 28 variations. The Skyraider first saw combat in the Korean War, where its long loiter time and heavy load-hauling capability gave it a distinct utility advantage over the jet aircraft of the time.  

Various versions were developed over the years; the most numerous types being: AD-1 (Initial production version with 2500hp R-3350 engine); AD-2 (Improved AD-1 with wheel-well covers and increased fuel load, etc.); AD-3 (Redesigned canopy, improved propeller, etc.); AD-4(2700hp R-3350 engine, further canopy improvements, etc.); AD-4W (3-seat Early Warning version); AD-5 (4-seat multi-role version. Many variants of the AD-5 were capable of carrying up to 12 passengers in the rear fuselage); AD-6 (Single-seat attack version).

During the Korean conflict, the Skyraiders entered service over the Korean Peninsula in October 1951, and by 1955, there were 29 Navy Skyraider squadrons operating on carriers.  In 1964, it was modified for service in the Vietnam War and used by the U.S. Navy, USAF and South Vietnamese Air Force. Because of its ability to carry large bomb loads, absorb heavy ground fire, and fly for long periods at low altitude, the Skyraider was particularly suited for close-air support and pilot rescue missions.  

During the 1960s, the AD-x designations were changed to A-1D through A-1J. The A-1 series was operated with enormous success during the Vietnam War, where it was used by the Navy, U.S. Air Force and South Vietnamese Air Force. The AD-6 and AD-7 were used by the French Armee de l’Air in Algeria.

History of the LSFM Skyraider

The Museum’s Skyraider was manufactured in 1952 and served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.  It initially flew from the USS Philippine Sea, where it sustained damage multiple times in 1953.  From the late 1960s to 1977, it flew in Southeast Asia under the control of the French Air Force.  The Skyraider returned to the United States on March 9, 1977 and flew for various civilians and companies. It is on loan to the LSFM by the Vietnam War Flight Museum. The aircraft is airworthy.

Quick facts

  • Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft
  • Country: United States
  • Type: single-engine ground-attack
  • Engine: 2,700 hp Wright R-3350-26WA Cyclone
  • Maximum speed: 462 mph
  • Armamament: four 20 mm cannons; 8000 lb mixed; ordnance including bombs, napalm, and rockets
  • Ceiling: 32,000 ft
  • Range: 1,400 miles
  • Crew: 4.00
  • Length: 39 ft 3 in
  • Wingspan: 50 ft
  • Number built: 3,180
  • Approximate Fuel Burn: 100 gal/hr

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