Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

Jim Winchester
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books, 2005
Category: Aviation History

Rating: 5-Stars

The A-4 Skyhawk was an exceptional airplane - the last great bequest of Douglas' chief attack aircraft designer, Ed Heinemann.  The A-4 exceeded its expectations in ways that no aircraft either before, or since has ever accomplished: delivering the required range and bombload at less than half of the U.S. Navy's weight requirement, and with a top speed that was 90 knots (170 km/h) faster.  Thirty five years after the first prototype flew, the Skyhawk would still be flying into battle - as part of the Free Kuwait Air Force in the 1991 Gulf War.

For an airplane of such an illustrious pedigree, it has therefore often been disappointing that so many of the histories written on this program have fallen short.  Jim Winchester's book at long last corrects for this.  Providing a combination of technical history and first hand accounts from both U.S. and foreign operators, Winchester's text provides the breadth and depth to place this historic little attack jet into its rightful place in history.

In addition to the finely crafted first hand accounts, the book adds serial number lists for Skyhawk deliveries, for each of the Skyhawk models, as well as tracing the units that they served in, and aircraft on display today.  The appendices further supplement this with statistics for each Skyhawk model.  A must-have for any Skyhawk enthusiast.

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