Douglas A-4F Skyhawk, The gift that keeps on giving

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Introduction

The A-4F Skyhawk was the last single-seat Skyhawk variant to enter service with the Israeli Air Force. Though they were only received after the Yom Kippur war, and despite being inferior to the previously acquired A-4Ns, there was still a notable amount of them in service and they further cemented the spot of the IAF as the most prolific user of Skyhawks among the world’s Air Forces.

Disclaimer

  • As I will specify in this post the A-4F Skyhawks received a number of upgrades throughout their service which made them more standardized with other Skyhawks variants operated by the IAF. One of these which was done at a very late point was the installation of the J-52-P-408A engine that was found on the A-4N, however for the sake variety among Skyhawk variants in War Thunder I’m suggesting the aircraft variant without this further upgrade as it would make it almost identical to the A-4N in the game in terms of performance.

  • I will be going over the development history of the aircraft very briefly since the main focus of this suggestion is it’s service in the IAF.

Development History

The A-4F Skyhawk was developed as a direct successor to the A-4E variant presenting many practical improvements over the previous model. The first prototype of the A-4F first flew on the 31st of August 1966 featuring the improved J-52-P-8A engine, an ejection seat, nose wheel steering, wing spoilers and new advanced avionics which were installed in the avionics hump on the fuselage spine. 147 airframes in total were built by Douglas and entered service with the US Navy in time to participate in the Vietnam war.


In the photo is A-4F number 605 presented during an exhibition in the late 70’s when it was still serving under the 102nd squadron.

Service History in the IAF

The A-4F Skyhawk was not among the Skyhawk variants initially intended for sale to Israel, however, due to the circumstances that were presented during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the IAF found itself implementing this new version into their ranks regardless, becoming the 4th single seat Skyhawk version at that point to enter service with the IAF. During the Yom Kippur war the IAF lost many Skyhawk aircraft (52 to be exact), It was therefore established that as a part of the American airlift operations to supply Israel with armaments during the war that the US Navy and Marines will supply the IAF with A-4E and A-4F airframes to make up the losses. The A-4F Skyhawks were the latest to arrive, most of them arriving in the very final days of the war (October 22nd-23rd). The vast majority of them entering service with the 102nd squadron which suffered the most losses during the war. In total the IAF received 16 A-4F Skyhawks.


A-4F number 603 during takeoff.

After the war was over the IAF conducted a renumbering of the Skyhawks in service based on the aircraft models, this resulted in all of the A-4Fs being numbered with the 6XX template, making it fairly easy to distinguish them from other variants despite the very subtle external differences. At this time all A-4F Skyhawks were also upgraded with the basic Israeli Skyhawk modifications, installing an extended fiberglass tailpipe to lower the heat signature, replacing the 20mm Colt cannons with 30mm DEFA 552 cannons with 150 rounds per gun and adding a drag-chute installed under the tail. There is no evidence to suggest that the A-4Fs were ever wired to carry Shafrir 2 missiles like the other Skyhawk variants. Much like some of the A-4Es in service, as well as all the A-4Ns, all of the A-4Fs received by the IAF had the ALQ-51A/100 ECM system installed under the nose. Additionally, unlike the models made specifically for Israel (A-4H and A-4N) which had a squared off tip for the vertical stabilizer and rudder, the A-4F Skyhawks, much like the A-4Es, retained the rounded shape. The A-4F was also seen carrying some more advanced weapon types than those carried by the older H and E Skyhawk models like AIM-9D Sidewinders and AGM-65 Mavericks. In the late part of their service the A-4Fs (as well as other older model Skyhawks) were re-engined to use the powerful J-52-P-408A engine that was originally found on the A-4N.

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A-4F Skyhawk number 607, equipped with a pair of drop tanks as well as an AIM-9D Sidewinder on the outer-wing station.

The A-4Fs continued serving under the 102nd squadron until the summer of 1978 when the IAF reopened the 147th “Goring Ram” squadron. The 147th took in all of the A-4F Skyhawks as well as some A-4Es and A-4Ns. This squadron was characterized by the yellow painted rudders of the aircraft which were then applied to all A-4Fs.


In the photo are A-4Fs 611 and 614 being used to test a refueling aircraft conversion for a foreign customer. This is a relevant point to note that most of the IAF’s A-4Fs had the cranked refueling probe with very few exceptions, like 605, having the older straight one. Also notable is that aircraft 611 as seen in the photo was one of very few A-4Fs with an RF antenna on top of the avionics hump, much like the IAF’s A-4Ns.

The Lebanon War and the end of service

The A-4Fs of the IAF remained in service long enough to participate in the Lebanon war of 1982. They along with the A-4Es and A-4Ns were primarily used to attack PLO targets Across Lebanon. Not long after in 1985 due to budgetary constraints the 147th squadron was closed and the A-4Fs were retired from service. Of the A-4F Skyhawks number 611 was chosen to be preserved and remains as a display aircraft to this day in the Israeli Air Force museum in Hatzerim (as shown in the title photo).


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In the following photos A-4F number 602 is shown with a variety of weapons types that it could carry such as an AIM-9D Sidewinder, AGM-65 Mavericks, an AGM-45 Shrike an ALQ-119 ECM pod and other armaments.

Potential in War Thunder

While the Israeli tree does already have quite a few Skyhawk variants the A-4F could still be used to further bolster the 6th rank, for example, it could potentially bridge the BR gap between the A-4E Early (M) and the A-4N Skyhawk II (Ayit) if it were to be introduced with a BR of 9.0. Alternatively it could perhaps be implemented as an event aircraft or even a squadron reward aircraft to give people more options for introduction into the Israeli aviation tech tree.

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Specifications

Type: Single Seat Attack Aircraft

Country of origin: USA

Wing span: 8.38 meters

Length: 12.27 meters

Height: 4.57 meters

Powerplant: Pratt and Whitney J-52-P-8A rated at 4,218 kgf

Max speed: 1,085 km/h

Max altitude: 13,000 meters

Range: 3150 km

Weight: Empty - 4,535 kg, Fully loaded - 7,394 kg

Armaments: 2x30mm DEFA 552 cannons (150 round per gun for a total of 300), 2XAIM-9D Sidewinder, Mk.80 series bombs, M117 bombs, FFAR Might Mouse rockets, Zuni rockets, 20mm Mark 11 mod 5 cannon-pods, Mk.77 Incendiary bombs, AGM-62 Walleye, GBU-8, AGM-65 Maverick.

Additional photos

Spoiler

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Sources

Spoiler

מטוסי העיט בחיל האויר-דגמים, מספרים וטייסות - מרקיע שחקים
העברת מטוסי סקייהוק לישראל במלחמת יום הכיפורים - מרקיע שחקים
IDF/AF Skyhawk Facebook group
מטוסי חיל האויר מהטייגר מות' עד הסופה
Amazon.com

7 Likes

+1, love the Skyhawks. I think this would be perfect as a squadron vehicle.

4 Likes

My God, Its Beautiful. +1

2 Likes

Instant +1, wish both the US tree and the Israeli one get to see more of the Skyhawk.

4 Likes

+1 to it, it could fit nice between the A-4E and the Ayit, or foldered with one of those two, or even as a squadron vehicle

3 Likes

+1, there’s never enough Skyhawks

A-4M too pls… !

5 Likes

I personally think 4 Skyhawks in a row, even foldered, would be pretty redundant, but this would be an amazing candidate for a squadron vehicle especially since Israel lacks one.

+1

I mean, the same goes for all other vehicle models if they add more of them.
Folders make the most sense, redundant or not.
People can either skip them or go for them if they want to have more fun with the vic. It definitely doesn’t hurt anyone however.

2 Likes

If this one looses its wings as easy as Ayit, please no more Skyhawks

Hell yeah, even with the J-52-P-408A installed this could make an amazing squadron vehicle!

Try taking new boosters mod off, it’ll pull less at high speeds and also bleed less speed due to less AoA but is entirely worth it for conserving energy and pulling out of dives. It’s just how the plane was made, single spar deltas tend to do that lol

1 Like

Seeing as this aircraft would likely be somewhere between the A-4E and A-4N in terms of capability and might actually fill a BR gap in that line of the tree I don’t really see how it would be redundant, especially if it would be foldered. I did say though as you’ve also agreed that it could also alternatively be a great candidate for an event vehicle or a squadron reward, so I’m obviously for that idea as well.

3 Likes

Let’s say A-4F from IAF as a squadron vehicle in rank 6 for Israel

So USN/USMC A-4F would be regular tech tree for USA

4 Likes

Probably a stronger candidate for a squadron vehicle due to the similarities and small differences to the TT skyhawks, either way I’d be happy to see it in game!

1 Like