Douglas F4D Skyray
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Douglas F4D Skyray

US Navy interest in German delta-wing research led, in 1947, to the design by Douglas of a carrier-based interceptor which embodied a variation of the pure delta wing. Approval of the Douglas design was signified by the award of a contract for two Douglas XF4D-1 prototypes on 16 December 1948, the first making its maiden flight on 23 January 1951 powered by a 2268kg thrust Allison J35-A-17 engine. This represented an emergency powerplant, resulting from delays in development of the Westinghouse J40 turbojet which had been the planned engine. Both prototypes were flown subsequently with the XJ40-WE-6 developing 3175kg thrust and the XJ40-WE-8 which had a rating of 5262kg with afterburning, but problems with this engine programme led to final selection of the Pratt & Whitney J57 engine for production aircraft.

The F4D Skyray was a cantilever mid-wing monoplane, the wing of modified delta configuration incorporating elevons to serve collectively as elevators or differentially as ailerons. The tail unit had only swept vertical surfaces, landing gear was of retractable tricycle-type and the pilot was accommodated well forward of the wing in an enclosed cockpit that provided excellent visibility.

The potential of the F4D was demonstrated effectively by the second prototype on 3 October. 1953, then powered by the XJ40-WE-8 turbojet, which set a new world speed record of 1211.746km/h. The first production F4D-1 was flown on 5 June 1954, powered by a Pratt & Whitney J57-P-2 turbojet developing 6123kg thrust with afterburning, but it was not until 16 April 1956 that deliveries began, initially to US Navy Squadron VC-3. The 419th and last production aircraft was delivered on 22 December 1958, but in the intervening period a change had been made by installation of the higher-rated J57-P-8 engine. All aircraft retained the F4D-1 designation, the popular (derived) name being Ford.

At the peak of its utilisation, the Skyray equipped 11 US Navy, six US Marine and three reserve squadrons, but none was used operationally. The type survived in first-line service until the late 1960s, with two front-line squadrons not converting to the type until 1964. It was redesignated F-6A in September 1962.

Douglas F4D Skyray

 ENGINE1 x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-8B turbo-jet, 64.5kN with afterburner
    Take-off weight11340 kg25001 lb
    Empty weight7268 kg16023 lb
    Wingspan10.21 m34 ft 6 in
    Length13.93 m46 ft 8 in
    Height3.96 m13 ft 0 in
    Wing area51.75 m2557.03 sq ft
    Ceiling16765 m55000 ft
    Range1931 km1200 miles
 ARMAMENT4 x 20mm cannons, 1814kg of weapons on six hardpoints

Douglas F4D SkyrayA three-view drawing (1693 x 1520)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Edward Lee, 19.01.2015

I was in VF23 stationed at Moffett Field, California, one of the first fighter squadrons to receive these aircraft into service in 1956. The "Ford Drivers" (pilots) in our squadron love the birds, but we had them a little more than a year and the whole fleet was transferred to a Marine Squadron.

Wayne Kitzerow, 02.11.2014

I was a plane captain and mechanic on the F4D with VMF 513 from Nov. 1958 until Nov. 1960. It was a fine a/c with not that many problems. We were the first ones the pilots would talk to after a hop, so we knew if there were problems.

Dudley Gillaspy, 10.07.2014

I flew the "Fords" w/ NavReserve @ NAS Olathe Ks,'63-'64; Not a good A/C for the Reserves., many maint and supply problems,poor 'availability', but really an impressive to fly..Great performance,tough getting much good flight time. Transitioned to A4's in '65 and problem solved.

Warren Jackson, 13.03.2014

I was an AQF2 in VF101, both at Cecil Field when it was a stand-alone squadron, and later when we moved to NAS Key West, merged with VF 38 and became FAWTULANT. As I remember, when we first got F4Ds, they killed about a pilot every two months or so (uaually the young dumb ones) for the first year.

I do not remember them being too maintenance heavy for anyone. After a while, the pilots finally figured them out and were pretty happy with them.

Their real claim to fame was that they were really a pocket rocket, climbing from a standing start at a (for the time) record breaking rate. They had more thrust than they weighed.

Ralph Koslin, 24.02.2014

I am trying to find an 'old' original VF-21, VF-23, VF-141, VF-162, VMF-AW-115, and or VMF-AW-314 patch.

I am also looking for any old USNR and USMCR Squadron patches from NAS Olathe KS VF-881, VF-882 / VMF-113, VMF-215.

If you have only one patch, I would be happy to reproduce the patch + send a new hard-cover book on the Skyray. 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 would be happy to send the hard-cover Ford book up front for an old patch.
Please kindly look at your leisure. Thanks for your interest.

Jeff, 21.01.2014

Does anyone know where I can get a squadron patch vfaw-3 north Island F4 D skyray? Thanks

Ernie Eaglin, 13.08.2013

I was an AE 3 for VFAW-3 in 1958-59 . I loved this a/c and found it to be very easy to service.

Michael A. Gianetti Jr, 24.02.2013

I was a Plane Captain VMF, VMF(AW). VMFA-115 on the beloved Ford.
Then we picked up the Phantoms, F4B if memory serves.
I remember SSGT Miiliron (sp) and am still in conrtact with MGYSGT Art Larsen and MGYSGT David Grayce.
Made a Med, came back, went to Cuba.
Today, 2/23/13 is the 68th anniversary of the raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima. God Bless America and the United States Marine Corps.
Semper Fi,

Michael A. Gianetti Jr, 24.02.2013

I was a Plane Captain VMF, VMF(AW). VMFA-115 on the beloved Ford.
Then we picked up the Phantoms, F4B if memory serves.
I remember SSGT Miiliron (sp) and am still in conrtact with MGYSGT Art Larsen and MGYSGT David Grayce.
Made a Med, came back, went to Cuba.
Today, 2/23/13 is the 68th anniversary of the raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima. God Bless America and the United States Marine Corps.
Semper Fi,

Frank Grant, 16.02.2013

I flew the F4D-1 in 1958 and 1959 while attached to VMF(AW)314 at MCAS El Toro, California, Atsugi, Japan and Ping Tung, Formosa. I have only great things to say about the "Ford". It was a "fun aircraft" to fly.

Jim, 11.11.2012

If you watch close there is at least one instance of a Ford launching off of a carrier during the Cuban Missile Crisis Blockade, in a documentary I have see a couple of times on Public Television.

Jim, 11.11.2012

I checked in to H&MS-11, MAG-11, Avionics in Aug. '61. The OIC there, a Field Commissioned 1st Lt (Korea) Asked where i came from. I said El Toro, Mag-15 Q-50 shop, Sir. He smiled and said something to the effect. Do we ever need you. Go see S/Sgt??? at the other end of the building... What I didn't tell him was at El Toro my NCOIC put me, the kid just out of A school in a little supply closet. Where I never got to work on the gear... It turned out there was a ton of black boxes/pallets off the Q-50 that were down. So many so all the reserves were used up and many aircraft on the flight line from those two squadrons who didn't have radar... I and a Sgt who just got there also who didn't know the Q-50 really. I knew basics but that was it, other than being class honorman a year and a half earlier. We divided up th separate sections of the radar, got out the Service Manual for the gear. Worked nights and weekends and started RFI'ing that gear. As soon as a piece was RFI-ed. The Front bench would call one of the squadrons and they would be right down with an exchange and we just kept going. Within a month we had every thing caught up and all the extra stock sections RFI and we just had the daily repairs. And field changes to do. I loved every minute of it!!! Got P2 Pay for it too :)

RC, Sheffield UK, 03.08.2012

This looks very much like a Vulcan prototype I saw once.

Mac Bowers, 30.07.2012

From July 59 untill July 62 I was an E5 AM in VF-13 at Nas Cecil Field Fla. While deployed on both the Essex (CVA-9 and the Shangri-La (CVA-38 we had the F4Ds and lost two Pilots. LT David Ayers and LTJG James Hannon. I was sent to Flight Control school at the old NARF in Jacksonville. I recall having to rig flight controls on a very regular basis due to the hard landings. The ELEVON system had tandem cylinders in the wing butts that incorporated a .3000IN. dead spot for the neutral position. I found it a very interesting Aircraft to maintain due to it's flight controls for example,1 no elevator or ailerons these were incorporated into the ELEVONS. 2. no flaps but did have a surface called Pitch Trimmer. My first Co was CDR Norm Berree(now deceased) All the Pilots were very good at flying the aircraft which had to be more difficult than others due to it's unusual design.

J. D. Bible, 16.07.2012

I flew the F4D-1 in several USMC squadrons, VMF(AW)-314, 513 & 542 and did an overseas tour in WESTPAC in VMF(AW)-314. Loved it!! The "FORD" was not the fastest aircraft in the sky, the F-8 and the USAF F-101 were definitely faster, but they were not nearly as agile. We were transonic and they had speed advantage. However,we always ended up on their tails if they didn't runaway from us. But considering what was available at the time, it was a very enjoyable fighter to fly!

Looking back, the F4D was occasionally grounded for improvements\\maintenance issues, so we got flight time in the F3D, AD, F9F, or whatever was available. Interesting times.

Greg Hall, 24.05.2012

My Father, Don Lawler Hall flew this aircraft and competed in the 1959 Naval Weapons Meet in Yuma and was the champion. I have an acrylic encased display commemorating it with a model of the F4D Skyray (that use to be his), patches of his squadron and the meet, a photo, and the plack that he received as champion.

Bud Frazier, 01.05.2012

Had the pleasure of doing flight test during the mid 50's at LAX on the F4D and the F5D proto model.Great aircraft.

bombardier, 02.09.2011

That plane was so unstable.Only the best pilots could fly the thing.However it had a tremendous climb rate.

Ernie Hiscox, 16.03.2011

My other relationship to the F4D was teaching maintenance on the APQ-50 fire control radar at FAETUPAC. One of my students worked the F4D trainer at the other end of North Island and gave me a flight. I landed several feet below the runway damaging my ego and nothing else.

Ernie Hiscox, 16.03.2011

I was TDY with VA 126 at El Centro, and I had the mid line watch. Only three A/C to monitor so I was glad when some F4Ds started doing touch and goes. landing on dual runways meant three rows of lights on one side and only one on the other. Not symmetrical at all. I was wondering what it would look like to have two sets of lights on both sides of the landing A/C. Apparently, one pilot was reading my thoughts or having a similar day dream. He was dead center between the lights. I realized he was landing in the sand, and I started the jeep to at least get some light on the scene. We were synchronized. He hit the afterburner as I hit my ignition. Could that A/C climb. A few months later there was an Anon Y Mouse report of the incident in the NAVAIR magazine. Wonder if the pilot is still around.

1-20 21-40 41-60

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