McDonnell Douglas A-4G Skyhawk
The McDonnell Douglas A-4G Skyhawk was developed for the Royal Australian Navy. The RAN received ten Skyhawks in 1967 and another ten in 1971. The Skyhawks did not see combat, and a planned deployment of some of their pilots to fight in the Vietnam War was cancelled before it took place. The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Skyhawks were retired in 2001. Between 1986 and 1991 these aircraft were upgraded and re-designated A-fourKs.
About McDonnell Douglas A-4G Skyhawk in brief
The McDonnell Douglas A-4G Skyhawk was developed for the Royal Australian Navy. The RAN received ten Skyhawks in 1967 and another ten in 1971, and operated the type from 1967 to 1984. The Skyhawks did not see combat, and a planned deployment of some of their pilots to fight in the Vietnam War was cancelled before it took place. The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Skyhawks were retired in 2001. Between 1986 and 1991 these aircraft were upgraded and re-designated A-fourKs. Eight A-FourKs were sold to Draken International in 2012 and are in service supporting United States military training exercises. The Government of Australia bought 18 Skyhawks and 16 Trackers in early 1965 for a cost of £9 million. These aircraft were the first to be sold to a newly built country to be used as a maritime strike aircraft. While the Naval Board saw maritime strike as a logical task for the FAA, the RAAF argued that the 24-seat General Dynamics F-111 aircraft it had ordered would be more effective in this role. In early 1965 the Government agreed to buy a pair of two-seat Skyhawk trainers and a pair of two TA-4hawk fighter trainers for a total of £2.9 million, but delayed a decision on the Skyhawks until later that year. In the late 1950s the Australian Government considered options to replace the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, and her air group. While Melbourne had only been commissioned in 1955, the de Havilland Sea Venom fighters and Fairey Gannet maritime patrol aircraft operated by the Fleet Air Arm were becoming obsolete.
In November 1959 it was announced that the FAA would cease to operate fixed-wing aircraft in 1963. In mid-1963 the Government gave the Navy permission to retain the Sea Venoms and Gannets in service until at least 1967. In late 1964 the RAN sought the Government’s approval to upgrade Melbourne and purchase a force of 18 Skyhawk and 16 trackers. The trials conducted at Subic Bay went well, and confirmed that Melbourne would need only minor modifications to safely operate both types of aircraft. American Trackers had previously flown off the carrier during exercises in 1957, and the Royal Canadian Navy had successfully trialled Skyhawks from Melbourne’s sister ship HMCS Bonaventure. In June 1964 the next month Melbourne undertook flight trials with Sky Hawks and Grumman S-2 Trackers during a visit to U.S. Naval Base SubicBay in the Philippines. The trials were successful and Melbourne was ordered to be upgraded to a modern aircraft carrier in November 1964. The upgrades were completed in November 1965. The new aircraft carrier was commissioned as HMAS Melbourne, and she was used to provide air defence for the fleet as well as to attack warships and land targets on land. She was decommissioned in 1982, and two years later the ten remaining Skyhawk aircraft were sold for training purposes. Two of the former Skyhawks crashed during 2001, resulting in the death of a pilot.