Aircraft of the Month: A-1 Skyraider
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Aircraft of the Month: A-1 Skyraider

October 11, 2019


Hi my name is Eric Boehm, Curator of Aviation
here at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. Today we’ll be taking a look at the newest addition to our collection, the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. This airplane is actually one of the 25 prototype Skyraiders built in 1945 while World War 2 was still raging in the Pacific Theatre It was initially designated XBT2D-1 Dauntless 2, a follow on to the famous Douglas SBB Dauntless that served with great distinction during the war. After the war the Navy changed its aircraft designation system, doing away with the different scout bomber, dive bomber, and torpedo bomber designations, in favor of the all encompassing “A” for “Attack”. The Dauntless 2 became the AD-1 and along with that,
a name change to Skyraider. Designed but not used during World War 2, the Skyraider applied the operational lessons learned from the wartime service of other carrier borne aircraft like the Dauntless as well as the Curtiss Helldivers and the Grumman Avengers. Skyraider was originally designed to be a single seat,
carrier borne, attack bomber. At a time when jet powered aircraft were taking over the attack duties, the piston engine sky Raider seemed like a throwback
to an earlier age of aviation. It earned the nickname “Spad” after the rugged French
airplane of World War 1. Power was provided by the Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclone radial engine,
one of the most powerful radial engines produced in the United States at the time. It had 18 cylinders in a twin row configuration, and was supercharged for improved performance. Skyrider turned out to be an incredibly versatile airframe. It was adapted to many missions and several configurations. These included night attack, electronic countermeasures, airborne early warning, target towing, and of course the basic ground attack version, which had 20 millimeter cannons in the wing and could
haul 8000 pounds of assorted ordnance. The Skyraider was not designed to be a dog fighter
so air-to-air combat was rare. However on October 9, 1966 in the most famous mission involving an Intrepid based Skyraider, Lieutenant J.G. Tom Patton shot down a MiG 17 over North Vietnam. The victory was an unusual instance with propeller driven
ground attack airplane prevailed over modern jet powered fighter. Eventually, 3180 Skyraiders were built. They served in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and the Air Force and with 10 other nations. And some of those foreign users employed the Skyraider into the 1980’s. This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

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