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Douglas A-1J Skyraider BuNo. 142031, VA-145 "The Swordsmen", 1st Feb 1966
General Background
The A-1 Skyraider originated as a carrier-based torpedo and dive bomber. Deliveries as the AD-1 to the Navy began in November 1946 and in 1962 was renamed A-1. It was the first single-seat torpedo/dive bomber to serve with the Navy. The primary mission of the A-1 was close air support for ground troops because of its heavy ordnance load and accuracy. The aircraft had great success in Korea and Vietnam. There were 3,180 Skyraiders built in seven major models and 28 different versions. There were 266 A-1s lost in Vietnam.

Some nicknames - Able Dog, Spad, Sandy, Hobo, Firefly, Zorro and "Crazy Water Buffalo," a VNAF nickname.
The Aircraft
VA-145 “The Swordsmen” were assigned to the USS Ranger from December 1965 to August 1966. On February 1, 1966 Lt(jg) Dieter Dengler was flying his A-1J 142031/ NK 504 on his very first combat mission over North Vietnam when his aircraft was shot down. Dengler crash-landed in Laos, was captured and imprisoned. On June 30, 1966 he made a daring escape from a prisoner-of-war stockade and was rescued and returned to the squadron on July 21, 1966. Dengler was awarded the Navy Cross for his courageous escape.
Specifications :
Length: 39 ft 3 in
Height: 15 ft 8 in
Wingspan: 50 ft 1/4 in
Wing area: 400.33 sq ft
Empty Weight: 12,070 lbs
Normal Loaded: 18,400 lbs
Maximum Weight: 24,000 lbs
Engine: (1) 2,500 hp Wright R-3350-26WA Duplex Cyclone 18-cylinder air-cooled radial, rated at 2,600 hp for takeoff and 2,100 hp at 14,000 feet.
Max. Speed: 342 mph at 15,400 ft
319 mph at sea level
Cruising Speed: 180 mph
Combat Ceiling: 29,400 ft
Combat Radius: 275 miles with 2,000 lbs of bombs
Maximum Ferry Range: 3,240 miles
Armament: (4) 20-mm cannon in the wing
  (6) Racks underneath each outer wing
  (1) Pylon under each inner wing
  (1) Pylon underneath the fuselage centerline