Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA1435 A-4F Skyhawk 155208, VMA-142 "Flying Gators", 1984

Designed to replace the antiquated, propeller-driven AD Skyraider, the A-4 Skyhawk was first flown on June 22, 1954. Douglas exceeded the original design requirements by delivering a carrier-capable aircraft that was only half the Navy's weight specification and so compact that it did not need folding wings. The A-4 was the first to use "buddy" air-to-air refueling (an A-4 could refuel other aircraft of the same type), which was helpful when operating in remote locations where dedicated tankers were impractical. The A-4 served the US Navy until 2003 and remained the preferred warplane for the Marine Corps until the 1980s, even after the introduction of the A-7 Corsair II.

VMA-142 “Flying Gators” was established in 1942 as VMSB-142, deactivated in 1945 only to be reactivated in July 1946 as VMF-142. In 1990 they became VMFA-142. In the early 1970’s the squadron was first equipped with the A-4L before transitioning to the A-4F. The A-4F was ordered in 1965 and differed from the previous A-4E with the addition of steerable nose wheels, wing lift spoilers and upgraded ejection seats. The A-4F also had the hump-back dorsal and bent re-fuel probe. In the 1980s the unit began transitioning to the AV-8B Harrier.

Specifications Type Carrier based, single-seat attack bomber
Total number of “F” variant manufactured: 147
Dimensions
Length: 40 ft 1 in (12.22 m)
Height: 15 ft 2 in (4.62 m)
Wingspan: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Wing area: 260 sq. ft (24.15 m2 )
Weight Empty Weight: 9,853 lbs. (4,469.24 kg)
Gross Weight: 16,216 lbs. (7,355.45 kg)
Maximum Weight: 24,500 lbs. (11,113.013 kg)
Powerplant: 1 X Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408 Thrust-lb: 11,200 lbs. (5080.2345 kg)
Performance
Range: 2,000 miles (3,218.688 km)
Max. Speed: 646 mph (1,039.6362 kph)
Ceiling: 40,000 ft (1,2192 m) Armament
5 X hard points capable of carrying a maximum 10,000-lbs.
2 X 20mm cannon in wings with 100 rounds per gun.