The Douglas AD-1 Skyraider was the last piston engine attack aircraft to see front line service with the US Navy’s aircraft carriers. Originating as a follow on for the Douglas SBD Dauntless the design progressed thru a twin turreted two place tri-cycle landing gear XSBD2 Dauntless II to the single place XBTD-1 Destroyer. The final design was first known as the XBT2D-1 Skyraider, which was a taildragger with no internal weapons storage but with a 15 external hard points on the underside of the wing and fuselage. By 1946 the Navy had changed its designation system and the BT2D-1 (Bomber Torpedo Douglas) had become the AD-1 (Attack Douglas).

       The XBT2D-1 first flew on March 18, 1945 and the last Skyraider rolled of the production line in 1957 with 3,180 examples being built. The type would be modified and improved over seven production sub types (AD-1 thru AD-7. In 1962 the Department of Defense went to a unified designation for all military aircraft and the AD was redesignated as the A-1 (A-1A thru A-1J). Most sub types were due to strengthening of the airframe and engine changes. There were several sub types that had provision for additional crewmembers inside the cavernous fuselage. The most obvious change to the design came in the AD-5(A-1E) which had the fuselage widened to accommodate side by side seating and lengthened so that a crew of four could be carried with two pilots in the front and electronics operators in the back.

XBT2D-1Douglas XBT2D-1_Skyraider AD-4NDouglas AD-4N Skyraider AD-4WDouglas AD-4W Skyraider AD-5WDouglas AD-5W Skyraider

       The Skyraider served with the US Navy in Korea and Vietnam. The “Able Dog”, “Sandy” or “Spad” as it was nicknamed was well liked by those who flew it and many who needed air support on the ground. It was able to carry up to 8,000 Lbs. of varied ordinance and was able to loiter in the target area for a much longer period of time than the jets that replaced it. The Skyraider is another airplane that first saw service with the US Navy and was adopted by the US Air Force for its abilities. It was the aircraft of choice to accompany Air-Sea rescue helicopters when called upon to pull a downed pilot out of the heavily jungled Vietnam landscape.

       The Skyraider saw service with other Nations. In the 1950s the United Kingdom used AD-4W early warning aircraft until the Fairey Gannet became available in 1960. Sweden took delivery of the Royal Navy’s aircraft and used them as target tugs from 1962 to 1976. The French used the Skyraider as a COIN (Counter Insurgency) aircraft during its conflicts in Algeria and Chad. Several ex French aircraft went on to serve the Air Forces of Gabon, Chad, Cambodia and the Central African Republic.

       The subject of this article is Douglas A-1H Skyraider, BuNo 139768, call sign “Canasta 577,” of VA-25 “Fist of the Fleet” from CVA-41 USS Midway flown by Lt. Clinton B. Johnson. During a ResCap mission on June 20, 1965 “Canasta 577” accompanied by Charles W. Hartman III, flying A-1H BuNo 137523, radio call sign “Canasta 573,” and other Skyraiders off of the Midway were jumped by a flight of MiG-17s. Johnson and Hartman were able to maneuver into position and blasted one of the MiGs with their 20MM cannon. Each received ½ credit for the down MiG which dove into the ground following being hit by the 20MM cannon fire. There is a Skyraider onboard the USS Midway Museum in San Diego that has the same modex numbers as “Canasta 577”, but it is an entirely different aircraft.

       The model is built using Tamiya’s Item 61508 “Douglas A-1H Skyraider U.S. Navy”. As with all Tamiya 1/48 scale aircraft kits that I have built assembly is a piece of cake.

       I chose to paint and mount the pilot in the cockpit, lower the flaps and show the dive brakes in the open position. For underwing stores I chose the 2,000 Lb. bomb on the fuselage pylon, fuel tanks on the inboard wing stations, 4 LAU-3 pods and 6b SUU-19 launchers. Model Master paints and kit decals were used in finishing the model.


       Naval Fighters Number Ninety-Eight – Douglas AD/A-1 Skyraider Part One, By Steve Ginter

                   ISBN-13: 978-0-98292583-5-7, ISBN-10: 0-9892583-5-1

       Warbird Tech Volume 13 Douglas A-1 Skyraider Bt Larry Davis and David Menard, Specialty Press Publishers

                   ISBN: 978-1-58007-207-6, Item # SP478P.

       Combat Aircraft of the World, Edited and Compiled by John W.R. Taylor, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, ISBN 425-03633-2

       Wikipedia article on the Douglas AD(A-1) Skyraider

       The National Museum of Naval Aviation's Skyraider's article on the Skyraider

       The story of Canasta 577's Mig Kill

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