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Welcome to Aussie Skyhawk Tales

If you like the McDonnell Douglas A4G Skyhawk and remember when they were used on the Royal Australia Navy’s 724 & 805 Squadrons
and on HMAS Melbourne, then I think you will enjoy this site.

Check out our pages and the various albums, plus the videos and if you have some photos you would like to see added, then send them in.

Oh! and don’t forget to also check out other interesting sites through the Links Page.

About Us

This site is dedicated to you and the time you were involved with the RAN McDonnell Douglas A4 Skyhawk and you are invited to tell your own stories about how these aircraft affected your life whether at Nowra, on the high seas, during conflict or during the many fly-aways undertaken over the years, you can use this site to seek out old mates & have laugh with them. You can also have your photos added to the site, but I do ask you to send them to me for adding to the web site as as a photo album (don’t worry about size)

As you may appreciate, to create a website on a particular subject (in this case, the Skyhawk) many years after they have disappeared from the scene, takes some doing. Whilst there is a multitude of information out there, most of it has been either been said by somebody else, documented by somebody and somewhere else or photographed by somebody else – So, I’m not even going to try to be original…

On this site, I have tried to give clear identification of the owners of any material used, where I have known. To those owners, I fully acknowledge your ownership of the material. Copying material is not something I recommend to anyone, but if you do, I ask you to respect and acknowledge ownership – If I have used your content and not acknowledged you, please let me know by completing the Contact Us form

Remember – Its Your Site

A4 Info

Type:   Carrier-borne light attack fighter bomber Manufacturer:   McDonnell Douglas
Crew:   A4G - One / TA-4G (trainer) - Two Nicknames:   The Scoter / Heinemann's Hot Rod / Tinker Toy   Bomber
Ordered:   1966: No. Purchased:   20
1st Delivered:   22 Nov 1967 Last Delivered:   8 Jult 1971
Weight:   10,100 (empty) / 24,500 (loaded) Dimensions:   Wing Span: 27 ft 6 in / Length: 44 ft / Height: 15 ft
Engine:   1 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A. 9,300 lbs thrust Performance:   Ceiling: 40,000 ft / Speed: 657.6 Kts / Range: 2000   miles (ferry)
Armament:   Guns: 2 x 20mm cannon (100 rounds per gun) / Bombs /   Missiles / Rockets

The Engine
The J52-P8A Engine, built by Pratt & Whitney (a division of United Aircraft) is a continuous flow, gas turbine engine utilising a split 12 stage axial flow compressor, a nine unit can-annular combustion chamber and a split 2 stage turbine. The engine id composed of 3 major sections:
1 The compressor section or cold section,
2 The turbine section or hot section, and
3 The accessory section.

The multi stage axial flow compressor consists of a 5 stage low pressure unit and a 7 stage high pressure unit. The low pressure unit is connected by a through shaft to the second stage turbine unit. The high pressure unit is connected by a hollow shaft to the first stage turbine rotor. The R.P.M of the high pressure unit is governed by the engine fuel control, whereas the R.P.M of the low pressure unit is completly independent and is entirely a function of the pressure drop across the turbines, The J52 is a thrust rated engine i.e. it is set up or trimmed to develop a specific thrust at the high power setting rather that a maximum R.P.M. The complete engine is built up from 6 subsections, excluding the tailpipe assembly. The seperate sections extend from the compressor inlet guide vane case at the front, to the turbine exhaust case at the rear. The sections are joined by flanges bolted together as follows:

1 Inlet case - A to B Flange,
2 Compressor case - B to C Flange,
3 Diffuser case - C to E Flange (D is a dummy flange),
4 Combustion Chamber case - E to F Flange,
5 Turbine Nozzle case - F to G Flange, and
6 Turbine Exhaust case - G to H Flange.

Engine Particulars Summary
Basic Thrust:   9300 Lbs Length:   117 inches
Dry Weight:   2130 Lbs (approx) Max Diameter:   31 inches (excluding gearbox)
Max RPM N2:   12,052 (100% on Tacho Gauge) Max N2 Overspeed:   12,400 (104%)
Idle RPM N2:   50-60% (dependent on tam) Max RPM N1:   11,000 (approx)
Comp. Ratio:   13.6:1 at Mil.
N1 Compression:   4:1 (approx) N2 Compression:   9:1 (approx)

A4G Cockpit Image
A4G Cockpit Image

Squadons & Homes of the RAN A4 Skyhawk

    724 Sqn
    • 724 Squadron
    • Motto – Learn and Live
    • Colours – Blue and Yellow
    • Battle Hounors – Nil
    • 724 Squadron has its origins in the Royal Navy (RN) and re-commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Nowra on 1 June 1955 carrying out fixed-wing conversion training for the Fleet Air Arm’s (FAA) front line squadrons.
    RAN History 724 Squadron

805 Sqn
  • 805 Squadron
  • Motto – Over Sea and Sand
  • Colours – Red and White
  • Battle Hounors – Crete 1941, Libya 1941-42,
              Korea 1951-52
  • 805 Squadron was originally commissioned as a Royal Navy (RN) fighter squadron in May 1940. Re-formed as the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) first fighter squadron on 28 August 1948 at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Eglinton in Northern Ireland. Flying Hawker Sea Fury F.B. II's and commanded by Lieutenant Commander P.E.I. Bailey, RN.
RAN History 805 Squadron

HMAS Albatross
  • HMAS Albatross
  • Motto – Ever Watchfull
  • Colours – Nil
  • Battle Hounors – Nil
  • In 1944, the British Admiralty directed forces to the South-West Pacific necessitating shore base establishments in Australia to support the Royal Navy and its Fleet Air Arm.
    In July 1947, the Commonwealth Defence Council approved the formation of a Fleet Air Arm which would be controlled and operated by the RAN.
    HMAS Albatross was commissioned in August 1948.
RAN History HMAS Albatross

HMAS Melbourne II
  • HMAS Melbourne II
  • Motto – Vires Acquirit Eundo
  • Colours – Nil
  • Battle Hounors – Rabaul 1914, North Sea 1916-18,
        Malaysia 1965-66
  • HMAS Melbourne was originally one of six Majestic Class light fleet aircraft carriers ordered for the Royal Navy (RN) during World War II.
    On 28 October, 1955, the ship was officially named and commissioned into the RAN as HMAS Melbourne under the command of CAPT Galfrey G.O.Gatacre DSO, DSC, RAN.
RAN History HMAS Melbourne


From the pages of
Author - Ross Gillett
Publisher - Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd (ISBN: 0 9587978 0 3)

Designed as a small attack aircraft with a high load carrying capacity, the A4 Skyhawk was originally developed for carrier operations with the United States Navy.The prototype flew for the initial time on 22nd June, 1954, and within two years the type had entered service. By the close of production more than 3,000aircraft had been manufactured.
The RAN ordered eight A-4G and two TA-4G model Skyhawks which were handed over in the USA on 26th July 1967. These aircraft were the first Skyhawks built for export. The initial purchase of ten aircraft were brought to Australia in the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, and landed at Jervis bay, via AWL 304. They were then transported by road to to the Naval Air Station at Nowra. A second purchase was subsequently made in November 1971, (comprising eight A-4Fs and two TA-4Fs), bringing the total strength to 16 A-4 single seat and 4 TA-4 dual seat aircraft. All F models were modified to A-4G configuration.
As the Royal Australian Navy's frontline Skyhawk Squadron, VF 805 Squadron was allotted eight A-4Gs. It's primary roles when embarked in the flagship included air defence, maritime strike and Army support in the ground attack role. After 1968 Melbourne and her A-4Gs were involved in numerous peace-time exercises, working with defence units of various countries, including the USA, Canada, New Zealand, The Philippines, Japan, the United Kingdom and Indonesia.
During these exercises the Skyhawks proved themselves formidable and versatile aircraft, with the ability to carry large weapon loads and the capability of air re-fuelling to enable them to press home both coastal and shipping attacks far from the carrier base.
VC 724 Squadron, the land-based counterpart of VF 805, was designated the Skyhawk Operational Flying Training School. Aircraft from this squadron also participated in exercises with the fleet ad joint exercises with the Army and Air Force.
Another major task for 724 Squadron was the provision of aircraft for RAN ships  completing operational work-ups (including target services). Many of these sorties were flown in the exercise area just east of Jervis Bay, but deployments were frequently made to RAFF Base Laverton in Victoria and RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia.
Following the initial order for 10 Skyhawks an additional ten ex-USN stocks, comprising the earlier F models were acquired. These latter aircraft (delivered by Sydney in 1971) were all refurbished and brought up to A-4G standards prior to arriving in Australia. The first Skyhawk lost by the RAN, crashed at sea of Newcastle on 5th June, 1973. Another was lost in November 1973, one in 1974, two in 1975, two in 1979 and three in 1980.
Prior to decommissioning of Melbourne on 30th June, 1982, all Skyhawks had been withdrawn from carrier service and transferred to Nowra. The Federal Government announced on 3rd May 1983, that six of the remaining ten Skyhawks would be withdrawn by 30th June, 1983, and four retained for target towing until 30th June, 1984. All were subsequently sold to the Royal New Zealand Air Force on the 28th June for $28.2 million. The ten aircraft comprised eight A-4Gs and two TA-4Gs.

From the pages of

Wings Across The Sea.
Compiled by - EVAN BURTON
Nowra, Australia
A-4 Skyhawk - The Australian Connection

A small aeroplane designed to do the job of a medium-sized aeroplane" is one writer's description of the Douglas A-4 SKYHAWK, designed in the early 1950s as a naval attack aircraft, and intended to reverse the trend towards ever larger and heavier aircraft.

"Heinemann's Hot Rod", "The Scooter" and "Tinker Toy Bomber" were some of the nicknames applied to the diminutive SKYHAWK, which first flew in 1954 and must have achieved many of it's designer's aims as production ended 2960 examples and a quarter of a century later - the longest production run of any US combat aircraft.
Two FAA squadrons operated SKYHAWKs during the types career with the RAN, 805 Squadron (renumbered VF-805 in 1969) as the front line unit, operating from MELBOURNE when it was at sea, and from NAS NOWRA when it wasn't; and 724 Squadron (later VC-724), the SKYHAWK Operational Flying Training School, also based at NAS NOWRA.
By the mid-70s, the Australian government realised that MELBOURNE would need to be replaced during the next decade. The search for a new carrier began formally in 1977, when companies were invited to register interest in the project. It called for a ship of about 20,000 tonnes capable of accomodating about 20 aircraft in a mix of ASW helicopters and STOVL fixed-wing combat aircraft (ie, the HARRIER). In February 1982, Defence Minister Jim Killen announced that HMS INVINCIBLE would be purchased from Britain, and renamed HMAS AUSTRALIA. Delivery was scheduled for late 1983. In the meantime, MELBOURNE would be withdrawn from service.
After negotiations, the ten remaining airframes and all spares were sold to the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) for the bargain basement price of AUS$28.2 million. The aircraft were ferried in three batches from NAS NOWRA to RNZAF Base OHAKEA in July 1984 where they would be modified and overhauled before entering service with Nos 2 and 75 Squadrons and joining the RNZAF's existing fleet of A-4Ks and TA-4Ks, though retaining the RAN colour scheme. They also serve as the RNZAF aerobatic display aircraft, as part of the " Kiwi Red" aerobatic team.
Later, when all the RNZAF's 21 SKYHAWKs were upgraded to "Project KAHU" (Maori for "Hawk") standards, the former RAN aircraft were redesignated A-4Ks and TA-4Ks and repainted in the standard RNZAF colour scheme. They also gained one of the external physical characteristics of the 'K' models - the larger "squared-off" fin. Early modifications applied to the A-4Gs - before the KAHU programme - included the fitting of a braking parachute and VHF comms, plus some minor instrument panel and switch position changes. The KAHU programme, which was instigated in 1987 and completed three years later, basically involves an avionics upgrade although a rewiring programme was first completed using the spares and jigs which came with the large stock of RAN spares.

So What Happen to The RAN Skyhawks


Service Number

Side Number

When Disposed of


A4G N13-154903


12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-154904 883 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-154905 884 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-154906 885 21 Oct 80 Ditched
A4G N13-154907 886 23 Sep 79 Rolled over side Melbourne
A4G N13-154908 887 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-154909 888 23 May 79 Ditched
A4G N13-154910 889 08 Nov 73 Ditched
A4G N13-155051 870 23 Jan 75 Crashed near Braidwood
A4G N13-155052 871 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-155055 872 17 Jul 75 Mid air crash Beecroft
A4G N13-155060 873 05 Jun 73 Ditched near Newcastle
A4G N13-155061 874 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-155062 875 02 Oct 80 Ditched off Melbourne
A4G N13-155063 876 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
A4G N13-155069 877 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
TA4G N13-154911 880 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
TA4G N13-154912 881 12 Jul 82 Sold to RNZAF
TA4G N13-154647 878 24 Aug 80 Crashed at Nowra
TA4G N13-154648 879 16 May 74 Ditched North of Nowra

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