MCDONNELL DOUGLAS NA-4M SKYHAWK
The Skyhawk is a lightweight attack aircraft conceived during the Korean conflict. It was designed as a successor to the propeller-driven AD (A-l Skyraider) with Ed Heinemann heading up the
Douglas design team. The Douglas production line started in September 1953, and continued until 27 February 1979; 2,960 were built (2,405 attack and 555 trainers) in 21 versions. Skyhawks were bought by six
other nations. It's first flight powered by a Wright J-65-W-2 turbojet engine was on 22 June 1954 and it joined our operational fleet in October 1956. The single seat version served as one of our prime Navy
and Marine attack aircraft during the Vietnam conflict. The two seat trainer version was used extensively in the training command, here at our United States Naval Test Pilot School, in many other activities,
and in some instances, is still being flown today. The A-4F version was flown by our Flight Demonstration Team, the Navy Blue Angels. The Douglas Company developed the self-contained inflight refueling pod that
is carried externally under the aircraft and enabled it to operate as a flying "tanker". On 15 October 1955, the Skyhawk set a world speed record of 695.163 MPH for a 500 KM closed circuit course. This record
stood for nearly five years.
Our display aircraft NA-4M BUNO 155049 (Salty Dog 300) spent its entire operational life involved in test and evaluation work. It was built as a A-4F, then converted to a prototype A-4M the same year,
and immediately instrumented for A-4M development flight test and structural demonstration requirements. After conversion, its first flight was on 14 May 1970. This A-4M aircraft commenced flight testing
at Patuxent River in February 1971 as the Board of Inspection and Survey (BIS) Trials aircraft. Flight testing continued until its retirement to our museum in November 1990. Over the years, this particular
aircraft was involved in many tests and evaluations. Primarily, it was instrumented and utilized the test aircraft for the Pratt & Whitney J-52-P-408 turbojet engine Component Improvement Program.