Hobby Master HA1420 USMC McDonnell Douglas A-4E Skyhawk Attack Aircraft - VMA-121, "Green Knights," Chu Lai, Vietnam, 1960s (1:72 Scale)
"Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America - not on the battlefields of Vietnam."
- Marshal McLuhan
The A-4 Skyhawk is an attack aircraft originally designed to operate from United States Navy aircraft carriers. Fifty years after the type's first flight, some of the nearly 3,000 Skyhawks produced remain in service with smaller air arms around the world. The aircraft was formerly the A4D Skyhawk, and was designed by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, later McDonnell Douglas, now Boeing.
The Skyhawk was designed by Douglas' Ed Heinemann in response to a U.S. Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the A-1 Skyraider. Heinemann opted for a design that would minimize size, weight, and complexity. The result was an aircraft that weighed only half of the Navy's specification and had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The diminutive Skyhawk soon received the nicknames "Scooter", "Bantam Bomber", "Tinker Toy Bomber", and, on account of its nimble performance, "Heinemann's Hot-Rod."
The Navy issued a contract for the type on June 12th, 1952, and the first prototype first flew on June 22, 1954. Deliveries to Navy and U.S. Marine Corps squadrons commenced in late 1956.
The Skyhawk remained in production until 1975, with a total of 2,960 aircraft built, including 555 two-seat trainers. The US Navy began removing the aircraft from its front-line squadrons in 1967, with the last retiring in 1975. The Marines would pass on the A-7 Corsair II. The last USMC Skyhawk was delivered in 1979, and were used until the mid-1990s until they were replaced by the similarly small, but V/STOL vertical landing AV-8 Harrier.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a USMC McDonnell Douglas A-4E Skyhawk Attack Aircraft that was attached to VMA-121, "Green Knights," then deployed to Chu Lai, Vietnam, during the 1960s.
Release Date: February 2013
Historical Account: "Green Knights" - In August 1966, the Green Knights ferried their Skyhawks to Chu-Lai Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. After six months of combat operations, the Squadron rotated back to Iwakuni, Japan and Naha Air Base, Okinawa before returning to Chu-Lai for another combat tour in 1968. During the first six months of that deployment, VMA-121 supported 118 major operations. In early 1969, the Squadron was reconstituted at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina and newly designated VMA(AW)-121 to reflect the Squadron's transition to the all weather attack mission with the Grumman A-6 Intruder. The Green Knights were now capable of acquiring and destroying surface targets in any weather, day or night, with a wide variety of ordnance.
On December 8th, 1989, the Squadron was redesignated as VMFA(AW)-121, becoming the first Marine Corps F/A-18D Night Attack Hornet Squadron. Slightly over one year later, the Squadron deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. During the Desert Storm Air Campaign, the Squadron flew 557 sorties and 1,655.5 combat hours (more than any other Navy or Marine Corps tactical jet squadron).
Returning to El Toro following the cessation of hostilities, the Green Knights returned to the unit deployment rotation and relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California during August 1994. The Green Knights made three deployments to the Western Pacific before returning to combat over Iraq in March 2000. The squadron flew 287 sorties in support of Operation Southern Watch while based at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait.