Hobby Master HA1403 USN McDonnell Douglas A-4E Skyhawk Attack Aircraft - John McCain, VA-163 "Saints", USS Oriskany (CV-34), Vietnam, 1967 (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 12 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.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of an A-4 Skyhawk was flown by future senator John McCain, who would later be shot down in 1967, taken prisoner, and held for seven years at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton."
Release Date: August 2007
Historical Account: "The Hanoi Hilton" - The Hoa Loa Prison (Vietnamese: meaning "fiery furnace"), later ironically known to American Prisoners of war as the Hanoi Hilton, was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. The prison was built in Hanoi by the French in 1904, when Vietnam was still part of French Indochina to hold Vietnamese prisoners, particularly political prisoners agitating for independence who were often subject to torture and execution. The French called the prison Maison Centrale - a usual term to denote prisons in France.
Captured U.S. POWs reported that the conditions there were miserable, and the food so bad that the prison was sarcastically nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by the inmates, in reference to the well-known and upscale Hilton Hotel chain.
American authorities stated that the Hanoi Hilton was used as a place for the North Vietnamese Army to torture and interrogate captured soldiers, mostly Americans, mainly pilots shot down during bombing raids. Others countered by stating that prisoners were treated with decency and that the prison was no worse than prisons for POWs and political prisoners in South Vietnam such as the one on Con Son Island.
When prisoners of war began to be released from this and other North Vietnamese prisons in the late 1960s and early 1970s, their testimonies revealed widespread and systematic abuse of prisoners of war. Initially this information was suppressed by American authorities for fear that conditions might worsen for the prisoners remaining in North Vietnamese custody.
Neither the United States nor its allies ever formally charged North Vietnam with the war crimes revealed to have been committed there, nor demanded extradition of Vietnamese officials who had violated the Geneva Convention at the Hanoi Hilton. The present government of Vietnam firmly holds to the view that the Hanoi Hilton was a prison for criminals, not POWs, and that those held in the Hanoi Hilton were "pirates" and "bandits" who had attacked Vietnam without authority.
Vice Presidential candidate James Stockdale was held as a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton, as well as Senator John McCain, who spent five and a half years there. Actress Jane Fonda visited the Hanoi Hilton as part of an anti-war demonstration.
The Hanoi Hilton was depicted in the eponymous 1987 Hollywood movie, "The Hanoi Hilton."
Only part of the prison exists today as a museum. Most of it was demolished during the construction of a high rise that now occupies most of the site. The interrogation room where many newly captured Americans were interrogated and tortured, notorious among former prisoners as the "blue room," is now made up to look like a very comfortable, if Spartan, barracks-style room. Displays in the room claim that Americans were treated well and not tortured, in stark contradiction to the many claims of former prisoners that the room was the site of numerous acts of torture. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)