APR 2013: A recent series of emails pointed out the confusion that sometimes surrounds the term "Skyhawk II".
Ref: In a photo of the Douglas "advertisement" for the Skyhawk based on the A-4N - for Israel, the a/c is painted with Skyhawk II.
"I believe that is the source of the II designation and over time, it was added (by who?) to the A-4M. The Jan 4, 1977 Douglas "Main Differences Table" only has I and II in the box labeled A-4N which makes sense based on the attached photo (out of Tommy Thomason's SCOOTER as provided by the National Naval Aviation Museum)." Bill.
FEB 2013: To make this discussion (control sticks) even more interesting, see this image of the stick grip used on the Blue Angel A-4Fs. Denny wrote:
"I am sending a picture of the control stick we had in the Blue's jets. The troops presented them to us when we left the team. The coolie hat is the stabilizer trim button and the slide button that replaced the bomb release is to mechanically increase the feel of the stabilizer by increasing stick pressure to around 18-20 pounds. The call for this was to "roll in the feel" prior to formation flight so we always had positive stick pressure. I think the gun/rocket trigger switch then controlled the nose gear steering as all the bomb racks and guns were removed from the aircraft. We retained a centerline station for the external drop tank used for crosscountry flights and it could be pickled off using the jettison handle."
08 DEC 2012:
In 1970-72' I was an Instructor in VT-23 flying TA-4's at NAS Kingsville,TX.Coors beer had just become available in northTexas and was a premium commodity in south Texas. Since the TA-4 had no radar installed,the hinged,upward opening radome was empty. The space inside would accommodate about six cases of beer. Shepard AFB,in Wichita Falls,TX, a source location of the coveted Coors, became a favorite destination for out- and- back student instrument cross countries. So,in search of this nectar, I took a student up to Shepard in the back seat, under the hood. After parking on the transient line, I requested transportation to the O Club. When asked my reason for going there, I replied,"for Coors,of course. "Transportation was denied by order of the base commander, so I asked "will you take us there for lunch?" and it was done. At the club, we had lunch, went into the liquor store, bought two cases each and called a base taxi. When the taxi arrived,the driver saw the beer and refused to transport us. We carried our beer about a mile back to the transient line. The explanation was this: a couple of months before our visit, a TA-4 loaded with beer commenced takeoff at Shepard. At about eighty knots,the nose cone came unlatched and flew open, obscuring the pilot's vision. He promptly aborted takeoff, commenced heavy braking and spewed six cases of Coors onto the only runway, fouling it and closing the field for about two hours. Base flight training was secured and several studs had to be diverted to other bases - which is a BIG deal to the USAF Training Command! About three years ago, I spent a night at Shepard and met the Commanding Officer, a BG, at Happy Hour. He got a real kick out of this story.
Jack was in VF-74 aboard the Forrestal when I was there in VA-46. He spent a lot of time pulling bodies out of burned out compartments and helping with fire hoses. I have a lot of respect for what he did while I was down in sick bay, Ward II. Many years later, he relieved me as CO of VA-203...reserves at Cecil.
I've heard a lot of his stories, but never this one....funny.
As I recall, you could get about 6 cases of Coors in an F-9 if you broke them down and stashed them around the guns and other non essential equipment. The Coors run to Shepard was very popular in the late 60s out of Beeville and if you did it right, you could salute the tower with a wing fold while taxiing! The beer run was not appreciated by Lone Star.
18 APR 2012
Q: ..is the scooter an all aluminum skin and frame jet?
Ans: All aluminum except for the nose cone. (from a former metal bender).
All aluminum. Some bits and pieces are steel and stainless steel. Some nose cones are honeycomb fiberglass. The rudder has some honeycomb in it. All in all it is a 7075 T6 aluminum airplane.
The A-4A, B, C aircraft all are essentially the same aluminum 2024-T, 6061-T and 7075-T alclad skin panels. There are some small areas of titanium alloy and steel panels but for the most part its an aluminum alloy skin.
Filipino Spaghetti: 1/2 Kils ground pork or ground beef, (or mystery meat), Carrot chop or brunuei, Cellery chop, Onion chop, Garlic chop, (hot dog - chop [some do - sort of a bonus), Catsup, Tomato sauce, Sugar, Cheddar cheese.
Saute ground beef or pork - strain out of grease. set aside, Saute garlic & onion til golden brown, Add Carrots, until they are cooked too, Add the cooked meat - saute and then add hotdog and warm, Mix in the catsup, tomato sauce - add sugar, salt, pepper to taste, Mix in some cheese. When cooked pour into a hot-dish pot and put some cheese on top. Cook the Spaghetti a dente and put some on plate and put the mystery stuff on-top.
Buds' notes - You can substitute monkey meat or dog or cat or rat for ground beef & when in doubt throw in a well aged baloute or an old rotten duck egg. It helps to have several San Magoos b-4 eating.
01 JUL 2011:
Bill "Jigger" Egan of the Skyhawk Association presents Margaret “Warrior Princess” Bone, with a instrument of appreciation for her contributions to the success of the Skyhawk Association Journal. Margaret has retired, but her influence on our journal will remain.
Pic1; Pic2; Pic3
20 JUN 2011:
Q: I am avid modeler of naval aviation subjects and have finished converting a Fujimi A-4C in 1/72 scale into a A-4L flown by my local unit, VA-205. The pictures on your site proved very helpful towards building an accurate A-4L from 1974. I am now working on a late model A-4M that has an angle rate bombing system in the nose and I wanted to hang some ordinance that would be unique to this version. According to "Naval Fighter 55, McDonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk" by Steve Ginter, the angle rate bombing system allowed the Skyhawk to use Maverick and other laser guided bombs. As the subject of my model is a A-4M from VMA-214 during the eighties when they were painted in a low viz scheme, I wanted to hang something other than the usual run of the mill unguided bombs, rockets, Walleye, and napalm. Thus my question, if I go with Mavericks, what should be hanging from the weapon stations, the same with Paveway series laser guided bombs. While the book is a good research help for the later model scooter, it doesn't have much in way of proper weapons loadouts. Also, most of the pictures I have of Skyhawks carrying war loads date back to Vietnam and show earlier varients. I look forward to any help you might give.
A: You asked the Skyhawk Association for information about laser guided bomb (LGB) and Laser Maverick missile (LMAV) load outs on the A-4M. Your message got forwarded to me for response.
From 1979-80, I was a Project Pilot for Laser Maverick at NWC China Lake, and from 1980-83 I was an Operational Test Director at VX-5 where I planned, conducted, and reported on the LMAV’s Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). Here’s what I know in answer to your questions.
LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) went on all five weapons stations on MERs/TERs.
LMAVs (Laser Mavericks) went on LAU-117 rail launchers mounted only on A-4M wing stations—see picture of VX-5 A-4M with max LMAV load out of four.
Closer view of an LMAV test missile (telemetry warhead) and LAU-117 launcher on A-4M station 4.
Last A-4M produced (160264) on the catapult on USS Constellation (CV-64) with LMAV on station 4 during the Laser Maverick missile’s OPEVAL.
View of the LAU-117 launcher and LMAV being loaded onto an F/A-18.
FYI—LMAV was integrated only into A-4M aircraft reworked with the Angle Rate Bombing System (ARBS). The ARBS incorporated a dual-mode target tracker in the aircraft’s nose; a pilot moveable electro-optical imaging (television) tracker and a Laser Spot Tracker (LST) which tracked a coded airborne or ground laser-designated target. The pilot entered the laser designator’s laser code for the LST as well as the LMAV. The laser code was a four-digit number displayed at the bottom of cockpit’s Walleye video monitor. Once a coded laser-designated target was acquired, the both the LST and LMAV locked-on to and continuously tracked the target, and the Head-Up Display (HUD) LST symbol stopped, fixed on the target. The pilot then had visual verification of the target for both the LST and the LMAV by looking through the HUD’s LST symbol.
03 JUN 2011
Q: Anyone have the receipe for the great Filipino Spaghetti they served in the Cafetera at Cubi Point Officers Club?
A: Thank you Bud for the Recipe.
Although I can tell it is not the same as what was served at the "Cafeteria" at Cubi Point, it does indeed look interesting and I may still try it. Good piece of humor you added too...
I would also like to thank all of you gentlemen in regards to trying to help me out in finding the recipe I am looking for.
If any of you have not had this style of spaghetti... I highly recommend you at least try it sometime! It is "Not" the same as what most Americans eat out of a jar or box, and of course also not the same as what we classically know as "Italian" style.
Just this Sunday, after the Indy 500 race, I attended a Filipino Birthday party for a family friend. They had Filipino spaghetti there too. And in actuality... one of the better ones I've ever had (although still not the specific recipe I'm looking for). Have tried to weasel it out of them but so far, don't appear they wish to share the recipe.
In actuality... some of the problem of being able to duplicate the real taste of Filipino spaghetti... is finding the ingredients.
First... the "hotdogs" they put in it, are "Manila" style hotdogs. Actually quite different than American hotdogs, and you would also notice when seeing them, that they are a very bright red color, not to mention taste much different.
There is also a mixture of Pork and Beef, but not sure to as what proportions.
Last... (of course based only on what I've learned over time and via other Filipinos whom have let me try their recipes)... another ingredient is "Banana Ketchup".
Yes... if never heard of it, it does indeed exist, and is NOT made with tomatoes, but instead... Bananas. A very unique taste, but still with a slight taste of what we also know as ketchup.
Anyway... If I should obtain the recipe of this last dish I tried... I will be glad to share it with you gents. Again... it was one of the better ones I've had over the last 10 years.
As for Cubi Point... if you have never been there... you've also missed out on a great place to visit and see! The scenic view from the top of the hill is breath taking and the countryside something else! (Just watch out for snakes... and don't piss off the Monkeys! LOL)
As for any other Philippine dishes you gents should try.. I recommend the following:
Pan de Sol (bread)
Again gents... Thanks so much for all your help and responses!
10 MAY 2010:
Q: "...the bent probe was necessitated by a Shrike mission avionics change and the incidents of fuel ingestion during inflight refueling caused it to have wider application. However, nobody has yet identified the specific antenna change or AN system number associated with that different blob under the nose or I missed it (SIDS and TIAS/TAIS have been mentioned).
A: Not sure I am on the right track, but the best knowledge I have was that with installation of the APR-23 inside the nose cone, functionality was inhibited to some degree by the straight probe. We had the APR-23 in some of our birds in VMA-121 in Chu Lai- A-4Es. They were supposed to help with target location for Shrike use. I believe this is what is probably attributed to TIAS- Target Identification and Acquisition System (this is an opinion!) There were also some A-4Fs in Navy squadrons that were modified with Laser Spot Trackers and the probe may have interfered as well with that field of view/scan--?? Later with the incorporation of the Angle Rate Bombing System, the field of view and scan were greatly increased and the probe would have been a problem had it not been "bent". During the engineering flight tests of the first A-4M with ARBs (I was the pilot for those tests), the chins blisters around the ARBs dome included 2 ALR-45 receivers on either side and ALQ-126 active jammer mid and low band antennas underneath the ARBs. A fully functional ALQ-126 in a jamming mode put out enough energy to cause the ARBs tracker to break lock and/or slew to one side uncommanded. This resulted in many hand made modifications to the RF screening around the ARBs cables in the dome- eventually leading to an ECP for the program to satisfactorily perform as required. Now, what was the questiion?
27 MAY 2010:
Q: Flying the TA-4J, need know the differences between it and the A-4L.
A: If it still has the J65-W-20, military power gives approximately 104%RPM and 8,400# of thrust on the single spool engine. The engine will vibrate over 100%, but that's normal.
It has a total loss oil system, with oil venting from the #2 and #3 main bearing cavities, leaving oil on both sides of the airplane...should blow out 2 qts per hour. There is no pressure oiling on the J-65, so oil is added by the quart on the top of the fuselage. The J-65 requires an external starter probe.
Maximun time at military power is 30 minutes. Start temp limit is 720 degrees/military temp is 695/normal power EGT is 640/Acceleration limit EGT is 720.
FOOT STOMPER: The J-65 has been known to run for 30 minutes with no oil pressure, but only if the power is set at 87% and not moved till time to land. As I discovered, this also could apply to any thrust surges, which might indicate impending main engine bearing failure...cost me a punch out in '68.
The L has ground spoilers...but I guess the T does too...armed for TO/Lnding. ...no nose gear steering, so differential braking only.
Q: "Hello there, I am an italian engineering student, and a fan of the great Bantamweight Bomber. Your site is beautiful and plenty of useful informations, so I thought I could ask you for a little technical problem, which arose in my Skyhawk research. The electic system of the Skyhawk consisted in a 20 kVA alternator for AC 115 V. For emergency, there is an external Ram Air Turbine (RAT), but for the sake of reducing weight, the Skyhawk has no battery. And this is the big problem: how is possible to start the engine without any battery? It is possible that a frontline attack aircraft like the A-4 required always a Groud Power Unit (GPU) just to start the engine? I'm quite sure that this little aircraft either had no space for an APU... It would be awesome if anyone collaborating in your website has an answer, from technical experts to ex-USN and USMC pilots (who surely remember the starting procedures).
Thanks a lot for any answer and for your beautiful website"
Ans: "Buon Giorno Daniel,
All US Skyhawks with the exception of the A-4M required an external start cart in order to start the engine. Some of the earliest models also were required to carry a starter probe in the rear "hell hole" which was a gear mechanism that was placed in the right wing root in order to turn the engine before adding fuel and then restowed after start. Multiple airplanes could share the same starter. The A-4M had its own starter along with a very small pump handle that had to be attached to the JFS (Jet Fuel Starter) and hand pumped whenever the start was not successful on the first attempt. Some of us had "borrowed" F-16 starter handles that were longer and easier to use.
You have to remember that when the Skyhawk was developed, there was plenty of money for the military, start carts were very common on the first jet aircraft and adding a self start capability always adds a lot of weight, which is a bad idea in any airplane. The decision is always a trade off between convenience, performance, cost and function.
27 OCT 2008
My trip to Subic...what a disappointment! While the trip to/from was no prob (beautiful, high speed toll way...through Angeles City and Clark), when I got to Subic, I was shocked. When I crossed shit river, I literally didn't know whether I was coming or going. Olongapo looked the same on both sides. There were two RPN ships in port, so I was able to ID where the waterfront was. My trip to Cubi NAS was no different. I struggled, but finally found the Cubi O Club. The front doors had a steel bar through them, preventing entrance. I walked around back, to find a Philippino family living in the club! Roosters were clucking among the weeds, where the nice lawn overlooking the RW and the bay used to be. The Ready Room bar was still there, but all sadly in need of paint. At the BOQ, Philippino families were living in the rooms. The BOQ swimming pool was partially filled with green fetid water...disease and bugs growing among the trash that had sunk to the bottom. The two Navy exchanges (Cubi/Subic) were very poor copies of Kmart. Fedex was operating out of the old air wing hangar. No paint had been applied since the USN moved out. The only bright spot was the Binictican Valley golf course...now called the Subic Bay Golf Course. It was in great shape. Only three foursomes were on the course (Sat afternoon). Apparently the last touchup work really accompl ished on the base was in 1996, when the RP hosted an APEC summit at Cubi. Eight private homes were built just above the runways, but below the O Club...one home for each world leader. They are now privately owned...but are starting to show wear/tear so common in this harsh environment. Everything else was overgrown, buildings slowly receding back into the jungle. No lawns were without thigh-high weeds. Fences falling over, parking lots empty and chained off, with weeds growing among the cracks. I'll not go back. Sad.
09 SEP 2008:
Brent: Re: your question as to the height beyond which a pilot might have trouble flying the A-4.
I can't give you a figure. But I've known some pretty long Scooter Drivers!
Early on in the late fifties to mid-sixties, there was a rule put into effect(?) by the human engineering types that limited the height of A-4 pilots(Largely ignored in the real world of the A-4). It was not from a problem of flying the plane. Rather, the height limit was put at about 6' 4" or thereabout - which corresponded to a hip-knee length beyond which a pilot was expected to have trouble were he to have to eject from the a/c.
The measure of his hip-to-knee length was the important criteria. If one was too long in that dimension, upon ejecting from the aircraft, the legs would be thrown forward and there was a great likelihood that toes, feet, or whatever would not clear the instrument panel and would be rather summarily chopped off .... or so it was feared! (all of which would quickly reduce the pilot to the proper measurements.)
I only knew one chap who ran afoul of that rule. He was Skipper of VA-44, the A-4 RAG in Jacksonville, FL. When he flew the A-4, he lowered his seat all the way to the bottom, extended rudder peddles to maximum, closed the canopy and cocked his head to one side or the other. He was just too tall to sit upright. His head rested tightly against the canopy.
The folks from above dictated that he was too tall & invoked the proscription against his flying the A-4. He routinely saluted, closed the canopy and, on a regular basis, took off! He was Cdr. Damon 'Hutch' Cooper, ..... later to be an admiral.
I don't recall ever reading of any A-4 ejection in which the dreadful "missing toes" occurred.
Stars and Bars
Sent: April 09, 2008 11:44 AM
Subject: A4 Markings
Do you remember any data on the placement of the Star on the A4's? I have seen graphics that place the Star on the E's up front at the cockpit area like I remember, and have seen on all A4-A through C models.
I receintly purchased the "US Navy & Marine Corps A-4 Skyhawk Units of The Vietnam War", and they show an A4-E BuNo 151105 of VA-93 in the Artists Colour Plates, pages 65-72 with the Star forward.
I thought that when the E model came out, with the engine change along, with the added length to the nose of the aircraft, they moved the Star to the rear at the speed brake area. Following up grades kept the Star in the rear area.
Evergreen's E model replica of John McCain's #416 from VA-46 is with the Star forward, but pictures of VA-46 E models show it to the rear.
Sent: April 09, 2008 12:57 PM
Subject: RE: A4 Markings
The Evergreen replica is correct. The only A-4E in VA-46 on the ’67 WESTPAC cruise to have the stars and bars on the tail just happened to be the airplane I was in during the Forrestal fire, 150129. The paint scheme change for the Echo was taking place that year, and as the airplanes got new paint at O&R, the stars and bars moved to the rear. Around the same time, new airplanes coming from Douglas started showing the new paint scheme. In the photos from our ’67 cruise, you can see the change. In VA-46 paint, it caused us to paint only one plaid strip on the tail, as “NAVY” and the BUNO was in the way.
Sent: April 09, 2008 10:23 AM
Subject: A4 Markings
Jim - all A-4's powered by the J-65 engine (A/B/C/L) had the star forward because the I-65 emitted oil from a vent on the starboard side of the fuselage aft and the oi would eat the star off - all others had the star aft since the J-52 did not spit out oil - that's how I remember it.
The "S" after the BuNo.
I'm pretty sure that the letter after the BuNo indicates what manufacturing block the airplane was built in. It wasn't a common practice but I've seen it occasionally.
That "S" is a, from what I have been told, a modification program designator. Which modification program it would be I have no idea. From what I know it seems that no one has a record of them.
I don't know when block identification became a sometime practice, but I know it predates 1962. That's not to say that a BuNo suffix couldn't have been used to denote a mod program as well.
I got it out of the F3H flight handbook, of all places.
It was there because of variations in configuration between manufacturing blocks, e.g. whether the primary dc bus or the utility bus provided electrical power to the engine fuel shutoff valve.
10 SEP 08 - Production Blocks:
In the immediate postwar years, like the USAF, the US Navy/Marine Corps often used a production block system to keep track of minor production line changes that were not deemed sufficiently drastic as to call for a new aircraft configuration sequence number. This system continued after the adoption of the unified designation system in 1962. Just like the Air Force, the Navy/Marine Corps did not use production block designations for all of their aircraft, and there was considerable variation in the systems used from one aircraft type to another.
Block Numbers normally progressed in increments of 5 starting with -1, then -5, -10 and so on. Intermediate numbers were reserved to denote field modifications carried out after the aircraft's delivery, although the use of these seems to be exclusive to the USAF, and there is no known record of any USN aircraft having such intermediate numbers. Exceptions to the 'plus 5' rule of progression were fairly frequent, the prime examples being the McDonnell Banshee, Demon, and Phantom and the LTV Corsair II, whose Block Numbers progressed in single increments -1. -2, -3 and so on. In addition to Block Numbers. the Navy also often used Block Letters to denote different production standards. although these don't seem to be related to any USAF-style designation. . There were various letter styles and combination of letters that were used. The differing styles appear to have no particular significance and probably existed because of the lack of any firm USN directive on the subject. Sometimes the sequence started with the letter 'A' or 'a", with the first change in production standard being denoted by 'B', then 'C', etc, until 'Z' was reached. If letters beyond 'Z' were required, it sometimes happened that the letters are started over from 'A', but on other occasions the next change was denoted by 'AA' to 'ZZ' . In order to avoid confusion with the number zero, the letter 'O' is skipped.
There is some debate about the origins of the term "Murphy's Law". Find here what we believe is the the straight skinny, not scuttlebutt!. Murphy's Law and Captain J.N. Murphy, USN
To summarize some recent traffic concerning a modelers question:
Can, and would you, place a MARK 84 2000lb bomb on Stations 2 and/or 4?
Weight limits not a problem.
Clearance a problem? Would you use, or have to use, a MER or TER?
Has anyone seen a MARK 84 loaded on Stations 2 and/or 4?
So far we have:
After checking with some Marines I found they did carry them on the center line - Station 3. The in-boards 2 and 4 had a clearance problem but it was between the hooks on the rack.
And that in the :..... A-4 section from the USMC fixed wing aircraft: description, planning specifics and utilization planning factors manual....
Page 7 shows the various load-outs on the wing stations and shows the Mk-84 on #3 only.
David found that:
I found researching that: MER uses two sespension lugs 14 inches apart (MK 84 lugs are 30inches apart) and TER suspension hooks space 14 inches apart (MK84 lugs are 30 inches apart).
The Mark 84 2000lb bomb had susupension lugs 30inches apart, and only the centerline rack on the Skyhawk could accomodate that configuration.
Heard that Rahn used to explain the reason the slats on the A4 were not interconnectted was expense. It would have cost $70 on an airplane then worth 900 grand apiece.
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