Hobby Master HA2903 USN Douglas A-1H Skyraider Attack Aircraft - Clint Johnson, VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet", USS Midway (CV-41), 1964 (1:72 Scale)
"Sandy Low Lead, Sandy Low Lead, this is Cole, - - . I'm done, Sandy. I'm all screwed up. My back's broken. They're everywhere. I'm sitting on a ZSU. They're using me for bait. Do it, Sandy. Lay it in on me, man. I'm popping smoke."
- Willem Dafoe playing the part of Lt. Cmdr. Virgil 'Tiger' Cole, calling in an air strike on his own position, from the feature film 'Flight of the Intruder'
The Douglas A-1 (formerly AD) Skyraider was an American single-seat attack bomber of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. A propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, the Skyraider had a remarkably long and successful career well into the space age, and inspired a straight-winged, slow-flying, jet-powered successor which is still in front line service today, the A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog).
It was operated by the United States Navy (USN), the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the United States Air Force (USAF), and also saw service with the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force, and the Air Force of the Republic of Vietnam (VNAF), among others.
The piston-engined A-1 was designed during World War II to meet requirements for a carrier-based, single-seat, long-range, high performance dive/torpedo bomber, and was a follow-on to earlier dive bombers and torpedo bombers used by the Navy such as the Helldiver and Avenger. Designed by Ed Heinemann of the Douglas Aircraft Company, prototypes were ordered on 6 July 1944 as the XBT2D-1. The XBT2D-1 made its first flight on 18 March 1945 and in April 1945, the USN began evaluation of the aircraft at the Naval Air Test Center (NATC). In December 1946, after a designation change to AD-1, delivery of the first production aircraft to a fleet squadron was made to VA-19A.
The AD-1 was built at Douglas' El Segundo plant in Southern California. In his memoir The Lonely Sky, test pilot Bill Bridgeman describes the routine yet sometimes hazardous work of certifying AD-1s fresh off the assembly line (quoting a production rate of two aircraft per day) for delivery to the U.S. Navy in 1949 and 1950.
The low-wing monoplane design started with a Wright R-3350 radial engine, later upgraded several times. Its distinctive feature was large straight wings with seven hard points apiece. These gave the aircraft excellent low-speed maneuverability, and enabled it to carry a tremendous amount of ordnance over a considerable combat radius and loiter time for its size, comparable to much heavier subsonic or supersonic jets. The aircraft is optimized for the ground-attack mission and is armored against ground fire in key locations. This was unlike faster fighters adapted to carry bombs such as the F4U Corsair or P-51 Mustang, which would be retired by U.S. forces long before the 1960s.
Navy A-1s were initially painted dark blue, but during the 1950s following the Korean War, the color scheme was changed to gray and white. Initially using the gray and white Navy pattern, by 1967 the USAF began to paint its Skyraiders in a camouflaged pattern using two shades of green, and one of tan.
Used by the USN over Korea and Vietnam, the A-1 was a primary close air support aircraft for the USAF and VNAF during the Vietnam War. The A-1 was famous for being able to take hits and keep flying. Battle damage images from the Korean and Vietnam wars speak for themselves. There was added armor plating around the cockpit area for added pilot protection. It was replaced in the early 1970s by the A-4 Skyhawk as the Navy's primary light attack plane.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a US Navy Douglas A-1H Skyraider attack aircraft which was piloted by Clint Johnson and attached to VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet", then embarked upon the USS Midway during 1964.
Wingspan: 8-1/4 inches
Length: 7 inches
Release Date: June 2010
Historical Account: "Fist of the Fleet" - The Fist of the Fleet was originally commissioned Torpedo Squadron 17 (VT-17) in 1943, and fought during World War II with TBF Avenger and SB2C Helldiver attack bombers.
Following WWII, the squadron was redesignated as VA-6B, then again as VA-65 in December 1947. This coincided with the squadron's transition to the plane it would fly for the next 21 years, the A-1 Skyraider, affectionately nicknamed the "Spad." The squadron sailed aboard the USS Coral Sea on its maiden voyage in early 1948.
The outbreak of hostilities with Korea saw the squadron transferred to NAS Moffett Field. Then in 1950, the squadron deployed to Korean waters aboard the USS Boxer, logging 1,645 combat missions.
In 1959, the squadron was redesignated VA-25. In 1962, the squadron moved to its current home, the newly-completed NAS Lemoore.
From 1965 through 1968, the squadron made three deployments to Southeast Asia, still flying the A-1. During this period, Fist pilots flew over 3,000 combat missions, dropping more than 10 millions pounds of ordnance on enemy targets. On June 20th, 1965, a division of "Spads" were attacked by a section of Vietnamese MiG-17's deep in North Vietnam - the Fists successfully scored a guns kill against one of the jet-powered fighters.
When the Fists turned in their A-1 "Spads" in 1968, it was the last tactical propeller driven squadron in the Navy. The squadron next obtained the A-7 Corsair II, with which it again deployed to Southeast Asia after only four months of training, aboard the USS Ticonderoga. It was during this cruise that the Fists set a record - in 33 flying days, Fist pilots flew 1,650 sorties in combat. During this period, each squadron pilot averaged over 92 hours in the air.