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Douglas A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 150092, VMA-121, MCAS, Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1960s
General Background
The A-4 Skyhawk is one of the most successful attack aircrafts ever built. This smallest jet aircraft ever deployed on a carrier was the product of Douglas's Chief Engineer Ed Heinnemann in the 1952. This was the time when a more lightweight aircraft was in demand to fit into those post-war vintage carriers.

The Skyhawk was extensively used during the Cold War period and the Vietnam War by the Navy and the Marines. Because of its small size and powerful performance, the A-4 was also known as the “Heinnemann's Hot Rod”. A total of 2, 960 of Skyhawk were built and many of them were exported to other countries.
The Aircraft
VMA-121 "Green Knights" and their A-4s were ferried to Chu Lai Air Base in South Vietnam and began operations on December 1, 1966. On June 4, 1967 the unit redeployed to Iwakuni, Japan until September 5, 1967 when they returned to Chu Lai AB for another tour. On January 31, 1969 VMA-121s Vietnam tour ended when they left for MCAS Cherry Point, NC where they were re-equipped with Grumman A-6 Intruders and designated VMA(AW)-121. On October 4, 1968 A-4E became the property of VMA-223 "Bulldogs" also at Chu Lai AB.
Specifications :
Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A turbojet, 8500 lb. of thrust
Max speed 673 mph at sea level with a clean aircraft: 636 mph at sea level with a Mk. 28
Cruising speed: 498 mph
Stall speed: 139 mph
Combat ceiling (clean aircraft): 40,500 feet
Runway to 20,000 ft: 4 minutes
Flight distances: 230 miles with a Mk. 28 weapon
680 miles with 2 X 300-gallon drop tanks
Ferry range: 2130 miles
Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in
Length: 41ft 4 in
Height: 15 ft
Wing area: 260 sq ft
Empty: 9,624 lb.
Gross: 18,300 lbs.
Maximum: 22,950 lbs
Armament: 2 x 20 mm cannon with 200 rounds/gun
Maximum weapons load: 8,200 lbs. carried on 5 pylons - 2 pylons under each wing and 1
center-line pylon