• Short Summary

    PALMDALE, Calif., April 10, 1970 -- The A-4M, newest light attack aircraft for the United States Marine Corps, flew today for the first time.

  • Description

    PALMDALE, Calif., April 10, 1970 -- The A-4M, newest light attack aircraft for the United States Marine Corps, flew today for the first time.

    The small but rugged jet, produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company division of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation for the Naval Air Systems Command, is the most powerful of the Skyhawk series of military aircraft.

    Walter S. Smith, McDonnell Douglas test pilot, was at the controls as the sleek Skyhawk sped down the runway at the Palmdale Airport and streaked skyward for a one hour checkout of its flight characteristics and major systems.

    During the maiden flight, Smith flew the A-4M to an altitude of 30,000 feet and reached a top speed of about Mach .9.

    Designed for operation from carriers or from forward area bases, the A-4M is 40.3 feet long, 15 feet high and has a wingspan of 27.5 feet. It weighs 10,600 pounds empty, 24,500 pounds loaded and can carry 8,200 pounds of all types of modern tactical armament. Deliveries of the A-4M are scheduled to commence next fall.

    The new aircraft contains a number of improvements over its immediate predecessor, the A-4F attack bomber built for the Navy, and over other Skyhawk versions in service with the Navy and Marine Corps.

    Chief among the advances is a new and more powerful Pratt & Whitney engine -- the J52-P-408A -- rated at 11,200 pounds of thrust. Engine thrust previously had grown from 7700 pounds in earlier Skyhawk models to 9300 pounds in the most recent A-4F. The additional power increases the rate of climb and acceleration, improves combat manoeuvrability with a full weapon load and enhances the short-field takeoff capability of the A-4M.

    Another new Skyhawk feature, a ribbon-type drag chute, combines with wing-lift spoilers to improve short-field landing performance, making the aircraft the first of the series with combat operational capability from 4000-foot landing fields.

    A larger windscreen and pilot canopy provide greater headroom and visibility. These features, combined with the higher performance of the A-4M, are expected to improve its impressive record of combat survivability.

    Other A-4M changes include a greater ammunition capacity for the two internally mounted 20 mm guns, a more powerful generator and a self-contained engine starter.

    The A-4M retains such basic Skyhawk design features as nose-wheel steering, non-folding wing, in-flight refuelling capability and the ESCAPAC I-C_3 zero-altitude, zero-speed emergency ejection system.

    Skyhawk attack versions operated by the Marine Corps include the A-4A, A-4B A-4C and A-4E. In addition, the Marines have used the two-seat TA-4F jet trainer model in both training and tactical configurations. McDonnell Douglas has produced more than 2400 Skyhawks of all models since the aircraft was introduced into Navy service in 1956.

    Skyhawks are used extensively by the Navy and Marine Corps on combat missions over Vietnam. Models of the aircraft also are in service with the Royal Australian Navy, the Israeli Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Argentine Air Force.

    Another Skyhawk model currently in production is the TA-4J advanced jet trainer, built for the Naval Air Advanced Training Command.

    McDonnell Douglas builds the Skyhawk at its Long Beach, Torrance and Palmdale, California, facilities. Development and acceptance flights are conducted from Palmdale.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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