Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Known as "Heinemann's Hotrod" for its designer, the Skyhawk was adopted by the US Navy as a replacement for the AD-1 Skyraider in 1954. It was used by U.S. forces in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Production of the A-4 ended in 1979, with a final production total of 2,980 aircraft. Although it was retired from USMC service in 1998 and USN service in 2003, the A-4 remains a prominent fighter aircraft in many foreign services, including Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Israel, New Zealand, and Singapore. It is also used by the Top Gun school as an "aggressor aircraft," mimicking the size and maneuverability of the MiG-21.

The plane has very successful for a number of reasons. It is light but durable; the aircraft was designed around the simple concept of keeping all components as simplistic as possible to lower the plane's weight. The aircraft is compact: it is one of the few carrier-borne jets without folding wings due to its small size. And lastly, it is cheap and easy to maintain. The A-4 has seen many upgrades since its inception in the mid-1950s; the dorsal hump is an adjustment that was made to house additional electronics since the basic fuselage was too small to incorporate newer equipment.

The plane has a crew of one. It is armed with two 20mm cannons in the wings, and can carry 4,000 lbs. of disposable ordnance on six underwing hardpoints. Typical underwing stores can include AIM-9L Sidewider missiles, 1,000 gallons of external fuel, LAU-10A Zuni rocket launchers, AGM-12 Bullpup missiles, Snakeye 500-lb. retarded bombs, and/or Mk 83 1,000-lb. HE bombs. The Skyhawk burns 504 gallons per hour of routine usage. It has a combat radius of 345 miles with a 4,000-lb. warload.


McDonnell-Douglas A-4M Skyhawk

Subassemblies: Body +3, Wings +3, 3 retractable small Wheels -1.

Powertrain: 11,200-lb. thrust Turbojet, 2,300-kWs advanced battery.

Fuel: 800 gallons jet fuel (Fire 13) in standard self-sealing fuel tank (Fire -1).

Occupancy: 1 NCS.

Cargo: 0.


Armor F RL B T U

All: 4/20 4/20 4/20 4/20 4/20

Pilot: 0/+10 0/+10 0/+10 0/+0 0/+10



2x20mm Cannons/Colt Mk 12 [Wings:F] (200 rounds each).*



Body: Medium range radio, long range radio, navigation instruments, IFF, autopilot, arrestor hook, ejection seat, refueling probe, navigational radar, advanced radar detector, HUDWAC, laser rangefinder, brake parachute (14,000-lb.), flight recorder, 0.25 man/days limited life support, armored crew station, 3,575-lb. hardpoint. Wings: Two outboard 1,000-lb. hardpoints, two inboard 2,240-lb. hardpoints.



Size: 40'x28'x15' Payload: 7.02 tons Lwt.: 12.25 tons

Volume: 469 cf. Maint.: 39 hours Price: $261,110


HT: 7. HPs: 276 Body, 195 each Wing, 25 each Wheel.


aSpeed: 685 aAccel: 9 aDecel: 13 gMR: 3.5 gSR: 3

Stall Speed: 145 mph. Take-Off Run: 219 yards. Landing Run: 526 yards.

gSpeed: 484 gAccel: 24 gDecel: 10 gMR: 0.5 gSR: 2

Ground Pressure Extremely High. No Off-Road speed.


Design Notes:

Body is 170 cf; wheels are 8.5 cf; wings are 155 cf. Wing volume was reverse-calculated from historical wing area. Structure is Medium, Standard with Good Streamlining. Structural weight was reduced by to reflect the historical lightness of the airframe. Armor is expensive metal. Crew armor is expensive composite, covering 58 sf (the SA of the crew station). Mechanical controls. Design Loaded weight is 24,974 lbs.; this was reduced 2% to the actual value. Historical values for wing area and loaded weight were used for performance calculations. Design aSpeed is 753 mph. The historical top speed is shown above. -12 mph to aSpeed per loaded hardpoint. Historical cost for the first 500 units produced was $860,000.



The A-4A was the initial production version with a 7,700-lb. turbojet engine. 146 built.

The A-4B featured a strengthen rear fuselage and a 7,800-lb. thrust turbojet. 542 built.

The A-4C introduced terrain-following radar, autopilot, and a 8,500-lb. thrust turbojet. 638 built.

The A-4E added two additional underwing hardpoints. 494 built.

The A-4F was the final USN version, introducing the hump-back fairing for additional avionics. 146 built.

The A-4G removed the hump-back; 8 built for the Royal Australian Navy.

The A-4H was built for the Israeli Air Force. Introduce the braking parachute and replaced the guns with two 30mm cannons. 90 built.

The A-4K was 10 planes built for the RNZAF.

The A-4L were upgraded -Cs for use with reserve squadrons.

The A-4M Skyhawk II was the USMC production version featuring a 11,200-lb. thrust turbojet. 162 built.

The A-4N Skyhawk II were 117 A-4M aircraft built for the Israeli air force; featured 30mm cannons.

The A-4P were -Cs refurbished for use by the Argentine air force.

The A-4Q were -Bs refurbished for use by the Argentine air force.

The A-4S were -Bs refurbished for use by the Republic of Singapore air force.

A number of two-seat trainers featuring the TA- prefix were also constructed.


From the Aerodrome for GURPS

2008 by Jim Antonicic