Douglas AD (A-1) Skyraider


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Douglas AD (A-1) Skyraider

Developed to satisfy a US Navy requirement of 1944 for a single-seat carrier-based dive bomber and torpedo carrier, the Douglas AD Skyraider (as it became designated) materialised too late for operational service in World War II. Ordered into production alongside the Martin AM Mauler, which had been developed to meet the same specification, it was to continue in production until 1957; although Martin's aircraft was taken off the production line after 151 had been built.

The Skyraider reflected the navy's wartime experience gained in the Pacific theatre, where it had been proved that the most important requirement for such aircraft was the ability to carry and deliver a heavy load of assorted weapons. Of low-wing monoplane configuration, a big Wright R-3350 radial engine was selected as the most suitable power plant to meet the load-carrying requirement, and this more or less dictated the fuselage proportions. The prototype XBT2D-1 flew for the first time on 18 March 1945. When production terminated 12 years later 3,180 aircraft had been built in many variants.

Although too late for World War II, Skyraiders were successfully deployed in both the Korean War and in Vietnam. Steady development led to the introduction of new power plant and equipment and the AD-5 was one of the most versatile military aircraft in US service. It differed significantly from earlier versions by having a wider and lengthened fuselage and providing side-by-side seating for two crew; specially designed quick-change kits were available so that the basic AD-5 could be utilised as a 12-seat transport, as well as for freight-carrying, ambulance and target-towing roles. When the US tri-service designations were rationalised in 1962, AD-1 to AD-7 versions became redesignated from A-1A to A-1J.

In addition to serving with the US Navy, Skyraiders have been operated also by the USAF and with the Royal Navy, French and Vietnamese Air Forces among others.

AD-1 Skyraider

 ENGINE1 x Wright R-3350-26WA, 1985kW
  Take-off weight11340 kg25001 lb
  Empty weight4785 kg10549 lb
  Wingspan15.47 m51 ft 9 in
  Length11.84 m39 ft 10 in
  Height4.78 m16 ft 8 in
  Wing area37.16 m2399.99 sq ft
  Max. speed515 km/h320 mph
  Ceiling7740 m25400 ft
  Range1448 km900 miles
 ARMAMENT4 x 20mm cannon, 3629kg of bombs

Douglas AD (A-1) Skyraider

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100 101-120
Mike Stanton, e-mail, 14.06.2021 04:09

As a NAVCAD I flew the AD-1 in flight schools in Pensacola and Corpus Christi, My first flight in AD-1 Bu 09112 was on March 28, 1952. My last flight was Carrier Quals on the USS Cabot on July 30, 1952 flying AD-1 Bu 09235. At the conclusion of this flight I was designated an Ensign and reported to VA-728 (later redesignated as VA-155) at Moffett Field. Deployed on the USS Princeton, CVA-37 to Korea in AD-4NA. Flew 48 missions. Wonderful aircraft by Douglas


Tom Lull, e-mail, 09.01.2016 05:24

Philip Oakley Question: The plates you mention restricted air flow into the engine area for cold weather starts. Some times the exhaust for a huffer was vented into the compartment to keep the oil fluid enough to start. They would open when the engine temps became normal.


Philip Oakley, e-mail, 01.01.2016 17:55

I recently visited the Pensacola museum and noticed what appeared to be hinged "plates" inside the cowling on their Skyraider. They would seem to block airflow to the engine. Can anyone tell me their purpose?


Howard L New AZC USN RET, e-mail, 29.07.2015 23:35

My correct E-mail is


Dean Cook, e-mail, 21.04.2015 21:37

Was in VAW13 Agana,Guam from 1959 to June of 1961. Was an AE Airman. Was on the Midway, The Kearsarge,and the Coral Sea and the Hornet. Heard that this AD5W Guppy is a lot like the P46 from WWII.


Bob Sullivan, e-mail, 11.04.2015 20:33

I went thru training on Skyraiders & Nukes in 1962 with VA 122 at Moffit field Ca. then transferred to VA 25 & we moved to Lemoore NAS & then made 2 cruises on the USS Midway 63 /64 & 1965 10 mo.Tonkin Gulf we had AD-6 & 7's the Eng.ADI was lock wired closed. I noticed that one fellow wanted to know access for electronics etc- there was a hatch under the belly about even with the rt trailing edge flap, I rode in there many times on compass swings, VA 25 had a confirmed Mig 17 kill in June of 65 (history channels "gun kills of Vietnam")& later we launched a skraider with a Toilet under the rt wing - just Google _ "VA 25 Toilet Bomb" to see video & still pictures, if you notice those bombs next to the toilet are 500 lb , that was normal load with a 1000 lb on center station. Bob Sullivan AE-3


Louis Vega, e-mail, 03.04.2015 09:39

Worked on the engines on A1Es from 10 /64 to 10 /65 at Bien Hoa in Viet Nam, great plane but at times hard to change cylinders, due to engine configuration, still, the r3350 engine was allmost as powerfull as the r4360 witch was used on the KC97s..
This airplane could take a lickin, but kept right on flying...


George H. Wimer, e-mail, 27.03.2015 02:53

I was a plane captain on an AD-6 with Attack Squadron 85 aboard USS Forestall in 1962-1963 Med. cruise. What a fun time we had until the Cuban missile crises broke out. We left port in the middle of the night.


Fred Volpe, e-mail, 19.02.2015 00:34

I have a B&W picture of an AD6 on the flight deck of the USS Coral Sea CV43?? Part of VMA333 probably taken in 1955 or 1956 somewhere in the Atlantic off Mayport. Fred Volpe


Jack Fennel, e-mail, 27.01.2015 03:21

I have a squadron patch from VA-215 circa 1960 Seems that is what Ralph is looking for. If that is correct he can contact me via e-mail


Owen, e-mail, 15.01.2015 22:37

Mr Johnsen,
I am employed at Battleship Park in Mobile, AL where the SPAD you will soon visit resides. Sir, what squadrons did you serve with in Korea?

v /r,
Owen Miller


soumakischris, e-mail, 07.08.2014 23:04

I need your help as seen in the ZM Skyraider behind the fuel tank there are some electronics and radios how were they accessed ?
What panel was opened to maintain them. any reference photos need
The AD7 has no doors at the side


Ralph Koslin, e-mail, 02.02.2014 19:17


I am looking for old USNR and USMCR Squadron patches from the 1950's and 1960's. If you have only one patch, I would be happy to reproduce the patch + send a new hard-cover book on the Able Dog. An embroidery shop with a loom, can spin an EXACT reproduction of the patch - same size, design, and colors. I would like to keep the original patch for my collection.

I have almost twenty pre-1970 USNR Fighter and Attack Squadron patches in my collection. I also have a handful of older USMCR patches.

I would be happy to send you, a new hard-cover book about the A.D. The book was written by a former A.D. pilot. The book also covers AD operations in Korea.

Please kindly look for an old patch at your leisure. I would send the book to you up-front / (BEFORE) any patch is mailed to me. Thanks for your interest.



Roy M. Johnsen, e-mail, 18.01.2014 23:09

Glad to see this row of comments and find Ken Wachtel who was once a crewman sitting behind me in the AD-3W with VC-12 at Qonset. Made several deployments from '53 to '57.


John Webster(GMT1), e-mail, 23.12.2013 23:23

I was transferred to VA-122 RAG in the fall of 63. Just after it moved from Moffet Field. I attended the last weapons loading class there headed up under AO Chief Edsel M. horne.
I really enjoyed NAS Lemoore. As a GMT, I was assigned to the RAG's weapon loading school & helped train both EM & officers. The Vietnam was heating up & it helped extend the lift of the "SPAD" before it morf'ed into a more modern aircraft. There was a few nuclear weapons specialist, but I worked mostly with AO's. We shared the training building with VA-122 training personnel. What a trip!!!


Fred Kattelman, e-mail, 22.10.2013 22:03

We learned how to Ground handle /service /pre-flight /turn-up /run through "check sheets" /throttle-fuel mix-- mag drop settings ect.on ADs [Skyraiders]at ADR"A"school Flightline NATTC Memphis,Grad. spring 1963.[anyone have any ADR-class Photos?]Later 1963 to 5 at Nas Alameda Flightline ,Aircraft Maint.What a Aircraft!!Learned that 6 "reel Type" Tiedowns wont hold a "Spad"back when you pull the prop into "Full Pitch"during a power check out / run up,I think I was airborne for 30 feet or so before I pulled back to Idle cutoff,I had lots of tarmac to slow down on ,and didnt suffer "sudden stopage"---------Every turnup after that had full hydro pressure "CHAIN TIEDOWNS" secured tight[First]!!!!!. Thanks --Ill shut up now!!!!Fred Kattelman---EX-- [ADR-3]


Ben Ardanowski, e-mail, 16.08.2013 22:52

I flew with VAW-13 1962-1964 Did the back seat and 7 Aircraft Carriers. Did the front seat with the Skipper in
Alameda and some gunnery practice off Cubi. I loved the job.
Finished up with 12 years as an IFT with the P-3. Orion. Last flight at age 52. Aviation was a right choice for me.


John Cleveland, e-mail, 27.11.2012 19:31

I flew as a cremen in AD 3W, 4W, %W and 5N while at El Toro with Vmc-3 /VMCJ-3. This weas 1954 thru 1956. Have many fond memories of my many flights and various experiences in the AD. Paramaont among them is the 3rd Marine Air Wing Gunnery Meet in Mojave in 1956. Our squadron was entered in only the air-to-ground phase. Our pilots were individual winners in all the phases, including a pr


Anymouse79, e-mail, 27.09.2012 17:30

I am relaying stories I remember my father and his friends telling when they were over at our house when I was a kid. My father was a Navy Man from the word go. He enlisted right out of high school becoming a Radarman. He went through the Naval Aviation Cadet program. On graduation his first assignment was to Quonsett Point, Mass, flying the Spad. He mostly flew the Guppy version, but he also flew single seaters. He talked about flying attack missions, to include nuclear attack using toss-bombing tactics, in the Spad. Imagine trying to get away from the blast in a Spad. He even talked about doing training attack runs to Naples. I was also told he spotted the first Russian submarine located during the Cuban Crisis. He lost at least one friend to flying, but he went on to fly not just the Spad, but theWilly Fudd (WF-1 or E-1), E-2 Hummer, Fairey Gannet on exchange with the British Royal Navy due to his AEW flying, as well as the C-131 and C-12. He always wanted to do aerobatics with an empty E-2. Things he told me about the Spad was that the limiting factors to Spad flight time was the pilot and the oil capacity. There was only a limited supply of oil on the plane which would go into and out of the engine. It could actually carry more fuel than it had oil for. Then the question was could the pilot fly as long as the oil would last? Up until he passed away, his favorite aircraft was the Spad since it most reminded him of the "real" aircraft flown in World War II when he grew up. That was CAPT "Red," USNR. I'm sure he's still flying a Spad.


Gene Whitney, e-mail, 06.05.2012 21:06

I was on board the Intrepid 1959-1963 in V2 division, I have many stories to tell but concerning the AD6, this one is among the best. I was starboard deck operator and on a very early launch we had a spad on the starboard cat ready for launch. (we usually cat launched two spads before everyone else to give the pilots cat time). It was still dark and the pilot was in full two finger turnup when the the D-ring in the holdback unit failed and the spad was now in a deck launch, without flaps. I had my wands raised and cross in final ready and watching the pilot in his red instrument lights. I threw one wand at the cockpit but it missed and I was thinking he is now committed, I was just wishing he would lower flaps but no. when he left the bow; he dropped like a rock at first and then he slowed and I was beginning to think he would make it, the rate of decent stopped and then the landing gear caught a wave and he did a nose over and the ships horn was blasting and we went hard over to port. I watched the spad go by and the pilot got out and survived. Of course I was interviewed afterwards and every procedure was followed, It was later determined; the D ring was cabable to be inserted into the holdback unit in a cocked position. ( rare). all ended well.


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