A1 Skyraider

The Douglas A-1E Skyraider entered service in World War II as a replacement for the SBD dive-bomber. The Skyraider‘s original designation was the “AD” and it made its inaugural flight on March 18, 1945. The A-1E Skyraider had a middle compartment which allowed it to be used for carrying passengers, supplies, or heavy cargo. Modifications of the airplane continued years after the aircraft was first placed in service. During the next twenty odd years, the Navy took delivery of 3,180 Skyraiders – a number of those aircraft were placed in service during the Korean War.

By 1963, and after many modifications, the Skyraider had evolved from the AD-5 to the A-1E and the United States Air Force used the airplane heavily during the Vietnam War. Despite the advent of jet fighters, the propeller-driven A-1E was well-suited for missions in Vietnam because of its ability to perform close-support operations. Specifically, the A-1E Skyraider had the ability to absorb lethal ground fire and fly at low altitude with large bomb loads, essential tasks during the Vietnam War.

On March 10, 1966 the A-1E Skyraider played a major role in the rescue of a downed pilot in enemy-held territory by pilot Maj. Bernard Fisher for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Though the airplane suffered major damage in combat, Maj. Fisher’s A-1E’s Skyraider is currently on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The A-1E Skyraider has dual controls and side-by-side seating for the pilot and assistant pilot. Both crew members have an ejection seat. Each wing has two 20 mm guns and the Skyraider can accommodate a variety of mines, gun pods, bombs, rockets, and other armament. To enable the A-1E Skyraider for long strike capability, it can be fitted with external or internal auxiliary fuel tanks. Here is some critical data for aircraft enthusiasts:

Maximum speed: 325 mph
Cruise speed: 240 mph
Range: 1,500 miles
Ceiling: 26,200 ft.
Length: 40 ft.
Wingspan: 50 ft. 1/4 in.
Height: 15 ft. 9 5/8 in.
Maximum weight: 24,872 lbs.
Engine(s): Wright R-3350 of 2,700 hp
Crew: One
Armament: Four 20mm cannons and a wide assortment of bombs, rockets, mines, grenades, flares and gun pods
Contractor: Douglas Aircraft Company

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