Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA1420 Douglas A-4E Skyhawk BuNo. 150092, VMA-121, MCAS, Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1960s
Designed by the McDonnell-Douglas chief engineer Ed Heinemann the A-4 Skyhawk met all the
requirements of the US Navy and exceeded many. It was half the maximum weight, could carry
four times the weapon load and small enough that it didn’t need folding wings for carrier duty.
This small aircraft would earn many nicknames “Heinemann’s Hot Rod” "Scooter", "Bantam
Bomber", "Tinker Toy Bomber". The A-4M assigned to front-line squadrons would be replaced in
the mid 1980s by the AV-8 Harrier II.
The Skyhawk proved to be one of the most popular US naval aircraft exports of the postwar era.
Because of its small size, it could be operated from the older, smaller WWII-era aircraft carriers.
VMA-121 “Green Knights” and their A-4s were ferried to Chu Lai Air Base in South Vietnam and
began operations on December 1, 1966. On June 4, 1967 the unit redeployed to Iwakuni, Japan
until September 5, 1967 when they returned to Chu Lai AB for another tour. On January 31, 1969
VMA-121s Vietnam tour ended when they left for MCAS Cherry Point, NC where they were re-
equipped with Grumman A-6 Intruders and designated VMA(AW)-121. On October 4, 1968 A-4E
became the property of VMA-223 “Bulldogs” also at Chu Lai AB.
A-4E Skyhawk Specifications
1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A turbojet, 8500 lb. Thrust
Max speed 673 mph at sea level with a clean aircraft
636 mph at sea level with a Mk. 28 nuclear weapon
Cruising speed 498 mph
Stall speed 139 mph
Combat ceiling (clean aircraft) 40,500 feet
Runway to 20,000 ft – 4 minutes
230 miles with a Mk. 28 weapon
680 miles with 2 X 300-gallon drop tanks
Ferry range 2130 miles
Wingspan 27 ft 6 in
Length 41ft 4 in
Height 15 ft
Wing area 260 sq ft
9,624 lb. Empty
18,300 lbs. Gross
22,950 lbs. Maximum
2 x 20 mm cannon with 200 rounds/gun
Maximum weapons load 8,200 lbs. carried on 5 pylons - 2 pylons under each wing
and 1 center-line pylon