Douglas A-4 Skyhawk Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Eric Boehm, curator of aviation here at the Intrepid Museum.

Today, we’re gonna to take a look at the A-4 Skyhawk, one of the most important

carrier airplanes of the Vietnam War.

The Skyhawk was developed in the early 1950s by
Douglas Aircraft lead designer Ed Heinemann.

The design was a response to the Navy’s requirement

for a jet powered aircraft to replace the older reciprocating engine, A-1 Skyraider.

Designed during a time when it seemed like aircraft were getting

larger and more complex, the Skyhawk was very different.

Heinemann’s team took a radical approach to the design.

Instead of a larger airplane, they came up with a small, lightweight, easily

maintained airplane.

The airplane actually half the size of what the Navy expected from the specification.

Because of its size, the Skyhawk could easily operate from

smaller, older aircraft carriers like the Intrepid.

The basis of the design was simplicity.

By hanging the weapons in the fuel tanks underneath the wing and fuselage, the

airplane could remain compact.

So small, in fact, that the complexity and weight of the folding wing system was

not needed, something nearly every other naval aircraft needs.

Another useful feature was in-flight refueling through the

in-flight refueling boom on the front of the aircraft.

The pilot can attach to another airplane called the tanker, but the Skyhawk could

not only receive more fuel, it could be the tanker.

Carrying a pod called a “buddy store”, the Skyhawk can lower the in-flight

refueling hose to another airplane, needing fuel.

The Skyhawk is one of the iconic aircraft of the Vietnam War.

It bore the brunt of the Navy’s fast attack needs until larger, more

sophisticated aircraft came online.

For more behind the scenes videos, visit

To learn more about the museum’s Vietnam era

aircraft, be sure to check out “On The Line: Intrepid in the Vietnam War”

a new exhibit opening October 16, 2015.