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    A-4 Skyhawk Development in Strangereal

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    Garuda 1

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    A-4 Skyhawk Development in Strangereal

    Post by Garuda 1 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:31 pm


    An Osean Navy A-4E Skyhawk of VA-164, from the OFS Baines, en route to attack a target in North Rasca during November 1967.

    Overview:

    The Donald A-4 Skyhawk is a carrier-capable attack aircraft developed for the Osean Navy and the Osean Marine Corps. The delta winged, single-engined Skyhawk was designed and produced by the Donald Aircraft Company, and later by LHI. It was originally designated the A4D under the Osean Navy's pre-1962 designation system.

    The Skyhawk is a light-weight aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 pounds (11,100 kg) and has a top speed of more than 600 miles per hour (970 km/h). The aircraft's five hardpoints support a variety of missiles, bombs and other munitions and was capable of delivering nuclear weapons using a low altitude bombing system and a "loft" delivery technique. The A-4 was originally powered by the Wright J65 turbojet engine; from the A-4E onwards, the Pratt & Whitney J52 was used.

    Skyhawks played key roles in the Rascan War from 1962 to 1970, the 1985-87 Aurelian-Leasath War, the Belkan War, the 1995 Skully Islands Coup d'etat, the First Usean Continental War in 1997, and finally in the Second Usean Continental War from 2003 to 2005.

    Design and development:
     

    The XA4D-1 prototype in 1954

    The predominant thrust in aviation technology since the 1943-47 Belkan War of Expansion was for planes to become larger and more complex to the point where some types have been virtually unmaintainable. The Donald Aircraft Company's lead designer, Bill Heinemann, was a man who understood this trend in aviation design and was deeply concerned about it. Not only were planes becoming expensive, they were becoming unmanageably big and complex; operational costs, multiplied in line by construction costs. Also, there were huge investments in training that were often lost as these skills were in demand outside the Osean Armed Forces. Adding to this brain drain, was the constant need to retrain personnel to keep abreast of technology.

    Heinemann was convinced that there was no need for this expensive trend. Certainly, some roles like the air superiority fighter demanded a very high degree of performance and capability. But there is little to be gained from that kind of performance in a battlefield observation aircraft. Heinemann wanted to design a family of light-weight, low cost workhorses. He was aware of the difficulties that the Osean Navy was having in getting jet aircraft to operate from its carriers.

    It was because of this, that Bill Heinemann designed the Skyhawk in response to an Osean Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the older prop-driven Donald AD Skyraider (later redesignated the A-1 Skyraider). Heinemann opted for a design that would minimize its size, weight, and complexity. The result was an aircraft that weighed only half of the Navy's weight specification. It had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The diminutive Skyhawk soon received the nicknames "Scooter", "Kiddiecar", "Bantam Bomber", "Tinker Toy Bomber", and, on account of its nimble performance, "Heinemann's Hot-Rod".

    The aircraft is of conventional post-Belkan Expansion War design, with a low-mounted delta wing, tricycle undercarriage, and a single turbojet engine in the rear fuselage, with two air intakes on the fuselage sides. The tail is of cruciform design, with the horizontal stabilizer mounted above the fuselage. Armament consisted of two 20 mm (.79 in caliber) Colt Mk 12 cannons, one in each wing root, with 200 rounds per gun, plus a large variety of bombs, rockets, and missiles carried on a hardpoint under the fuselage centerline and hardpoints under each wing (originally one per wing, later two).

    The choice of a delta wing, for example, combined speed and maneuverability with a large fuel capacity and small overall size, thus not requiring folding wings, albeit at the expense of cruising efficiency. The leading edge slats were designed to drop automatically at the appropriate speed by gravity and air pressure, saving weight and space by omitting actuation motors and switches. Similarly the main undercarriage did not penetrate the main wing spar, designed so that when retracted only the wheel itself was inside the wing and the undercarriage struts were housed in a fairing below the wing. The wing structure itself could be lighter with the same overall strength and the absence of a wing folding mechanism further reduced weight. This is the opposite of what can often happen in aircraft design where a small weight increase in one area leads to a compounding increase in weight in other areas to compensate, leading to the need for more powerful, heavier engines and so on in a vicious circle.
     

    A4D-2 (A-4B) refueling a F8U-1P (RF-8A) 

    The A-4 pioneered the concept of "buddy" air-to-air refueling. This allows the aircraft to supply others of the same type, eliminating the need of dedicated tanker aircraft; a particular advantage for small air arms or when operating in remote locations. This allows for greatly improved operational flexibility and reassurance against the loss or malfunction of tanker aircraft, though this procedure reduces the effective combat force on board the carrier. A designated supply A-4 would mount a center-mounted "buddy store", a large external fuel tank with a hose reel in the aft section and an extensible drogue refueling bucket. This aircraft was fueled up without armament and launched first. Attack aircraft would be armed to the maximum and given as much fuel as was allowable by maximum takeoff weight limits, far less than a full tank. Once airborne, they would then proceed to top off their fuel tanks from the tanker using the A-4's fixed refueling probe on the starboard side of the aircraft nose. They could then sortie with both full armament and fuel loads. While rarely used in Osean service since the KA-3 Skywarrior tanker became available, the LHI F/A-18E/F Super Hornet includes this capability.

    The A-4 was also designed to be able to make an emergency landing, in the event of a hydraulic failure, on the two drop tanks nearly always carried by these aircraft. Such landings resulted in only minor damage to the nose of the aircraft which could be repaired in less than an hour.

    The Navy issued a contract for the type on 12 June 1952, and the first prototype first flew from McNeally Air Force Base, Osea on 22 June 1954. Deliveries to Navy and Marine Corps squadrons (to VA-72 and VMA-224 respectively) commenced in late 1956.

    The Skyhawk remained in production until 1979, with 2,980 aircraft built, including 555 two-seat trainers. The last production A-4, an A-4M of Marine squadron (VMA-223) had the flags of all nations that operated the A-4 painted on its fuselage sides.

    Operational history:

    Osean Federation

    The Skyhawk proved to be a relatively common Osean Navy aircraft export of the postwar era. Due to its small size, it could be operated from the older, smaller Belkan Expansion War-era aircraft carriers still used by many smaller navies during the 1960s. These older ships were often unable to accommodate newer Navy fighters such as the F-4 Phantom II and F-8 Crusader, which were faster and more capable than the A-4, but significantly larger and heavier than older naval fighters.

    The Navy operated the A-4 in both Regular Navy and Naval Reserve light attack squadrons (VA). Although the A-4's use as a training and adversary aircraft would continue well into the 1990s, the Navy began removing the aircraft from its front line attack squadrons in 1967, with the last ones (Super Foxes of VA-55/212/164) being retired in 1976.


    An Osean Navy TA-4J Skyhawk of TW-3 on the deck of the OFS Dawson, 1989

    The Marine Corps would not take the Osean Navy's replacement warplane, the VTL A-7 Corsair II, instead keeping Skyhawks in service with both Regular Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve attack squadrons (VMA), and ordering the new A-4M model. The last OMC Skyhawk was delivered in 1979, and they were used until the mid-1980s before they were replaced by the equally small, but more versatile STOVL AV-8 Harrier.

    VMA-131, Marine Aircraft Group 49 (the Diamondbacks) retired its last four OA-4Ms on 22 June 1994. Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey "Eagle" Lake III (CO), Major James "Baja" Rufo (XO), Captain Donald "Yoda" Hurston, and Major Mark "Struts" Volland flew a final official OMC A-4 sortie during the A-4 stand down ceremony. Trainer versions of the Skyhawk remained in Navy (and later Maritime Defense Force) service, however, finding a new lease on life with the advent of "adversary training", where the nimble A-4 was used as a stand-in for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 in dissimilar air combat training (DACT). It served in that role at "TOPGUN" until 1999.

    The A-4's nimble performance also made it suitable to replace the LHI F-4 Phantom II when the Navy downsized its aircraft for the Golden Lancers demonstration team, until LHI F/A-18 Hornets were available in the 1980s. The last Osean Navy Skyhawks, TA-4J models belonging to the composite squadron VC-8, remained in military use for target-towing, and as adversary aircraft, for combat training at Naval Station St. Hewlett. These aircraft were officially retired from the then Maritime Defense Force on 3 May 2003, replaced by the T-45 Goshawk.

    Skyhawks were well loved by their crews for being tough and agile. These attributes, along with their low purchase and operating cost as well as easy maintenance, have contributed to the popularity of the A-4 with Osean and international armed forces. Besides the Osean Federation, at least four other nations have used A-4 Skyhawks in combat (the Federal Republic of Aurelia, the Republic of Ustio, USEA/ISAF forces, and the Republic (later Federal Republic) of Erusea), with the Kingdom of Sapin and the Republic of Arcis being the only Skyhawk users to have not used them in anger.

    Rascan War era


    A-4E of VA-215, the Steel Fists of the carrier OFS Thunder Bay.

    Skyhawks were the Osean Navy's primary light bomber used over North Rasca during the early years of the Rascan War while the Osean Air Force was flying the supersonic Republic F-105 Thunderchief; they were later supplanted by the A-7 Corsair II in the Osean Navy light bomber role. Skyhawks carried out some of the first air strikes by Osea during the conflict, and a Marine Skyhawk is believed to have dropped the last Osean bombs on the country. Notable naval aviators who flew the Skyhawk included Lieutenant Commanders Robert Alvarez, Jr. and Albert McCain, and Commander John Stockdale. On 1 May 1967, an A-4C Skyhawk piloted by Lieutenant Commander Thomas R. Swartz of VA-76 aboard the carrier OFS Edward Richard, shot down a North Rascan Air Force MiG-17 with an unguided Zuni rocket as the Skyhawk's only air-to-air victory of the Rascan War.

    From 1956 on, Navy Skyhawks were the first aircraft to be deployed outside of Osea armed with the AIM-9 Sidewinder. On strike missions, which was the Skyhawk's normal role, the air-to-air armament was for self-defensive purposes.

    In the early to mid-1960s, standard Osean Navy A-4B Skyhawk squadrons were assigned to provide daytime fighter protection for anti-submarine warfare aircraft operating from some Essex-class Osean anti-submarine warfare carriers, these aircraft retained their ground and sea-attack capabilities. The A-4B model did not have an air-to-air radar, and it required visual identification of targets and guidance from either ships in the fleet or an airborne Grumman E-1 Tracker AEW aircraft. Lightweight and safer to land on smaller decks, Skyhawks would later also play a similar role flying from Arcisian, Aurelian, Sapinish, Usean and Erusian upgraded Belkan Expansionist War surplus light ASW carriers, which were also unable to operate most large modern fighters. Primary air-to-air armament consisted of the internal 20 mm (.79 in) Colt cannons and ability to carry an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile on both underwing hardpoints, later additions of two more underwing hardpoints on some aircraft made for a total capacity of four AAMs.


    An A-4E of VA-67, the Heartbreakers and the sister squadron of VA-215 (The Steel Fists) aboard OFS Thunder Bay circa 1968. VA-67 had an odd distinction in its next aircraft as instead of going to A-7 Corsair IIs, it would be slatted for A-6s in a reorganization of the air wing (CVW-5's A-1 squadron, VA-28, would take on the postion of the second A-7 squadron along with VA-215).

    The first combat loss of an A-4 occurred on 5 August 1964, when Lieutenant junior grade Alvarez, of VA-144 aboard the OFS Rawlings, was shot down while attacking enemy torpedo boats in North Rasca. Alvarez safely ejected after being hit by anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) fire, and became the first Osean Naval POW of the war; he was released from captivity on 12 February 1971. The last A-4 loss in the Rascan War occurred on 26 September 1969, when OMC pilot Captain Jack P. Walsh of VMA-211, flying from his land base in South Rasca, was hit by ground fire, in one of the few remaining hotly contested areas during this time period, and Captain Walsh was providing close air support (CAS) for ground troops in contact (land battle/fire fight) when his A-4 was hit, catching fire, forcing him to eject. Rescue units were sent, but the SAR helicopter was damaged by enemy ground fire, and forced to withdraw. Captain Walsh, after safely ejecting, had landed within North Rascan Army positions, and had become a POW as soon as his feet had touched the ground. Captain Walsh was the last Osean Marine to be taken prisoner during the war, and was released on 12 February 1971.

    Although the first A-4Es were flown in Rasca in early 1965, the A-4Cs continued to be used until late 1970. The Seabees of MCB-10 went ashore on 7 May 1965. On 1 June, 1965, the Persephone Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS) was officially opened with the arrival of eight A-4 Skyhawks ferried from the aircraft carrier OFS Angfang Sea. The group landed with the aid of arresting cables, refueled and took off with the aid of JATO, with fuel and bombs to support Marine combat units. The Skyhawks were from Marine Attack Squadron VMA-225 and VMA-311.

    On 29 July 1967, the aircraft carrier OFS Louis Garnett was conducting combat operations off North Rasca. A Zuni rocket on an F-4J Phantom II misfired, striking an external tank on an A-4. Fuel from the leaking tank caught fire, creating a massive conflagration that burned for hours, killing 135 sailors, and injuring 162.

    During the war, 362 A-4/TA-4F Skyhawks were lost due to all causes. The Osean Navy lost 271 A-4s, the Osean Marine Corps lost 81 A-4s and 10 TA-4Fs. A total of 32 A-4s were lost to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and one A-4 was lost in aerial combat to a MiG-17 on 25 April 1967.

    Training and adversary role


    The A-4F has been an aggressor aircraft since the inception of TOPGUN. Though now replaced by F-16s, F/A-18s, and a slowly shrinking fleet of F-5s, the A-4 has earned its reputation as a good aggressor, simulating the MiG-17/MiG-19. This one, operated by the "Renegades" of VFC-82, is painted in mock Yuktobanian camouflage. even though the YAF has often been seen as an ally by the Oseans, the country's considerable air power keeps the Oseans on their toes
     
    The A-4 Skyhawk, in the two-seat TA-4J configuration, was introduced to a training role replacing the TF-9J Cougar. The TA-4J served as the advanced jet trainer in white and orange markings for decades until being replaced by the T-45 Goshawk. Additional TA-4Js were assigned to Instrument Training RAGs at all the Navy master jet bases under RCVW-12 and RCVW-4. The Instrument RAGs initially provided jet transition training for Naval Aviators during the time period when Naval Aviation still had a great number of propeller-driven aircraft and also provided annual instrument training and check rides for Naval Aviators. The assigned TA-4J models were installed with collapsible hoods so the aviator under training had to demonstrate instrument flying skills without any outside reference. These units were VF-126 at NAS St. Hewlett; VA-127 (later VFA-127) at NAS Parkson, near November City; VF-43 at NAS Stockdale, near Bana City; and VA-45 (later VF-45) at NAS Bright, near Oured until its later move to NAS Rogers, near Eaglin Straits.

    Additional single-seat A-4 Skyhawks were also assigned to composite squadrons (VC) worldwide to provide training and other services to deployed units. These included VC-1 at Sand Island Air Force Base; VC-7 and VC-8 at NAS St. Hewlett; VC-10 at NAVBASE Futuro, in the Kingdom of Sapin, and Naval Reserve squadrons VC-12 (later VFC-12) at NAS Stockdale and VC-13 (later VFC-13) at NAS St. Hewlett until its later move to NAS Wilson.

    With renewed emphasis on Air Combat Maneuvering training brought on with the establishment of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) in 1969, the availability of A-4 Skyhawks in both the Instrument RAGs and Composite Squadrons at the master jet bases presented a ready resource of the nimble Skyhawks that had become the TOPGUN preferred surrogate for the MiG-17. At the time, the F-4 Phantom II was just beginning to be exploited to its full potential as a fighter and had not performed as well as expected against the smaller North Rascan MiG-17 and MiG-21 opponents. TOPGUN introduced the notion of dissimilar air combat training (DACT) using modified A-4E/Fs. Modified aircraft, called "Mongoose", lost the dorsal hump, the 20 mm cannons with their ammo systems, and the external stores, although sometimes the centerline station was kept. The slats were fixed.

    The small size of the Skyhawk and superb low speed handling in the hands of a well trained aviator made it ideal to teach fleet aviators the finer points of DACT. The squadrons eventually began to display vivid threat type paint schemes signifying their transition into the primary role of Adversary training. To better perform the Adversary role, single-seat A-4E and F models were introduced into the role, but the ultimate adversary Skyhawk was the Super Fox, which was equipped with the uprated J52-P-408 engine. This variant had entered service in 1974 with VA-55/VA-164/VA-212 on the final OFS Rawlings cruise and had been the variant that the Golden Lancers had selected in 1973.

    The surplus of former OMC Skyhawks resulted in A-4M versions being used by both VF-126 and TOPGUN. Even though the A-4 was augmented by the F-5E Tiger II, F-21 (Kfir), F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F/A-18 Hornet in the adversary role, the A-4 remained a viable threat surrogate until it was retired by VF-43 in 1993 and shortly thereafter by VFC-12. The last Osean A-4 fleet operators were VC-8, which retired its Skyhawks in 2003.

    The A-4M was also operated by the Operations Maintenance Detachment (OMD) in an adversary role based at NAS Hawkins for the Naval Air Reserve. Many of the aviators that flew the four jets were attached to NAS Hawkins, including the Commanding Officer of the air station. The aircraft were instrumental in training and development of Air Combat Maneuvers (ACM) for Naval Air Reserve fighter squadrons VF-201 and VF-202 flying the F-4 Phantom II and later the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The unit also completed several missions involving target towing to NAS Wilson and NAS Kingsville; and deployments to NAS St. Hewlett and NAS Rogers for adversary support. The detachment was under the operational command of the Commander Fleet Logistics Support Wing (CFLSW), also based at NAS Hawkins.

    Federal Republic of Aurelia


    An Aurelian Navy A-4Q in reserve, 2007

    The Aurelians bought their Skyhawks, A-4Cs, from Osea in 1965. When the Republic of Emmeria gave the Terminus Islands to Aurelia in 1981, allowing Aurelia to become the dominant oil producer in the South Osea region, and the Republic of Erusea gave the southern half of the Danern Islands to Aurelia in 1983, Leasath went to war against Aurelia in 1985 in hopes of seizing her oil and territory. The Aurelians used their Skyhawks well in both air-to-ground and air-to-air roles alongside the Mirage III, F-5E Tiger II, Super Etendard and F-4E Phantom II. The Aurelians managed to drive the Leasathian forces back across their border, but wasn't able to retake their portion of the Danern Islands. The war became a stalemate, and losses mounted on both sides. On November 2, 1987, the war drew to a close through pens. By the time the war ended, Aurelia lost 35 of their A-4C Skyhawks.


    A-4AR Fightinghawk, 2006

    In 1996, Aurelia began a vast modernization of their remaining A-4s, known as the A-4AR Fightinghawk in reference to the Osean F-16 Fighting Falcon. These modernized A-4s did little good in the defense of Aurelia when Leasath invaded in 2020; the Fightinghawks were swept from the skies by newer, more advanced fighters.

    Republic of Ustio and the Ustian Mercenary Forces

    The Ustians ordered roughly 60 A-4M Skyhawk II aircraft to equip itself with a light bomber. The A-4's small size and near-10,000 lb warload made it a promising choice, and the M model's upgrades allowed more current weapons. Many of the aircraft were destroyed on the ground during the outbreak of hostilities in 1995, but some fled to safety and joined the Allied Forces.

    When the foreign mercenaries came to Ustio to take part in a joint operation supported by Osea, Yuktobania and Sapin, the only aircraft that were available to them at that time were F-5E Tiger IIs, F-8P Crusaders, Kfir C.7s, F-1A Kaisens, J35J Drakens, and of course, A-4 Skyhawks, ranging from the E to the M models.


    A-4M of the Ustian Air Force armed with CBUs filled with mines (often used to choke Belkan supply routes or troop movements) and AIM-9s for self defence. It's tail code is that of Keber River Air Base. The motto "Free Ustio" along the fuselage was popular among Ustain pilots.

    The A-4 made its niche bombing Belkan supply convoys, bridges, and tank formations, often escorted by the Tiger IIs, Crusaders, Kfirs, and/or Drakens. The Skyhawk was phased out of use by the mercenaries along with the F-8P, F-5, Kfir, F-1A and Draken, after the success of Operation Constantine, the Liberation of Ustio's capital, Directus.

    By the time they were phased out of service in Ustio, about 39 of the A-4s in mercenary service alone were lost in action or in accidents.

    USEA

    The USEA Forces purchased the Skyhawk in 1968, and they were often used in border clashes. Their first major use came in the 1995 Coup d'etat in the Skully Islands. During the campaign, both Rebel and Loyalist forces, with assistance from other Usean nations, used the Skyhawk as its carrier-capable attack plane. In comparison to the Oseans in the Rascan War, the Aurelians in its 1985-87 war with Leasath, and the Ustians and the Mercenary Forces in the Belkan War, Skyhawk losses were light, with only 7 lost in action.

    However, when the First Continental War erupted in 1997, half of the USEA Unified Forces' Skyhawks were lost in action to Rebel squadrons such as the 13th Air Force 8th Fighter Wing 5th Squadron Beast and the Second Carrier Fleet 4th Air Wing 14th Squadron Cocoon. The Skyhawk's moment of glory in the conflict came when the lead pilot of the USEA Unified Forces' 37th Air Force 18th Fighter Wing 1st Squadron Scarface, TAC Name Phoenix, used the aircraft in an intercept against Rebel B-52Gs. After the intercept, Phoenix transitioned to the F-16C Fighting Falcon.

    Even before the start of the First Continental War, a number of A-4s were used by the Republic of Erusea and the USEA member states, the Republic of Amber and the Republic of Faith Park used a number of surplus Skyhawks for their demonstration teams. The use of these demonstration teams continued after the First Continental War concluded with the Rebel Forces' defeat by Scarface Squadron at Fortress Intolerance in the Republic of North Point, and later after the Second Continental War of 2003 - 2005 with the destruction of Megalith.

    The Erusians used their A-4Cs for their Federal Guards demo team. The Republic of Amber used their TA-4Js, in co-operation with the Federation of Central Usea's Hawk T.1s and the Republic of Gatobie's Alpha Jet Es in their Blue Bolts land-based air demo team. The Republic of Faith Park used A-4Ms, in conjunction with the Republic of North Point's Harrier FA.2s and the Federation of Ugellas' F/A-18C Hornets, in their Hydras demo team.

    ISAF and Erusea

    When the Second Continental War erupted through Erusea's seizure of Stonehenge in 2003, both the then recently christened Federal Republic of Erusea and the newly-formed ISAF had left over aircraft from the 1997-98 war in their arsenals; most notably older models such as the F-4 Phantom II, A-6 Intruder, A-7 Corsair II, Super Etendard, Kfir, and the Skyhawk. However, when the majority of ISAF forces were forced off the Usean continent, the carrier-based aircraft were the only ones able to be of help.

    The ISAF Navy's Phantom IIs, Intruders, Corsair IIs, Super Etendards and Skyhawks; along with some of the more advanced F-14A Tomcats and F/A-18C Hornets; were able to cover the ISAF's evacuation from St. Ark to North Point. While they initially had a tough time, the ISAF Navy aircraft were able to keep the Erusian ground and air forces at bay, which the situation improved considerably when the radars on Mt. Shezna, across the gulf to the north, went silent on the Erusians.


    A-4ER of the Erusean Federal Guards, circa 2001

    The ISAF then used their Skyhawks against the Comberth Petrochemical Complex, the only source of fuel for the Erusian Navy's Aegir Fleet stationed in Comberth Harbor. The strike consisted of A-4F and M Skyhawks, A-6 Intruders and Super Etendards, escorted by carrier-based F-4 Phantom IIs of the ISAF 118th Fighter Squadron Mobius and land-based F-16Cs and Mirage 2000Cs from bases in both the Fort Grays and Rocky Islands. The mission was a strategic success for the ISAF, as the Aegir Fleet lost its only supply of fuel in the area. But the success came at a great cost. Of the nine Skyhawks that took off with the rest of the strike force, only two returned. Two of the Skyhawks were lost to ground fire, while the rest, along with a number of the A-6s and Super Etendards and a number of the escort aircraft, were shot down when the strike force and its escort were bounced by the Erusian elite Yellow Squadron.

    The A-4's were then used in the attack on the Aegir Fleet itself. The Skyhawks were used to great effect bombing the shipyards and docked warships alongside A-6s and A-7s. After the attack on the Aegir Fleet, the Skyhawks, Super Etendards, Intruders and Corsair IIs were put into reserve. They remained in reserve until their final combat use in the Second Continental War, as close air support for the ISAF landing forces during Operation Bunkershot.

    Post-2020

    After the conclusion of the Aurelia-Leasath War of 2020, the A-4s throughout the world were being seen by military officials as subsonic turbojet-powered dinosaurs, a similar mindset to how the Osean Navy saw the prop-driven A-1 Skyraider, the aircraft that the Skyhawk was meant to replace in the late 1950's, as. However, like the Skyraider, the Skyhawk continued to be in active service until the its own replacements, the A-7 Corsair II, the Harrier and the Legacy Hornet were in need of replacement themselves.

    The Arcisians retired their A-4s in 1978 after losing half of their Skyhawks in operational accidents before abandoning their carrier altogether. The Skyhawks were retired from the Sapin Royal Navy in 1993, to which those aircraft were sold to the Ustian mercenary forces for use in the Belkan War.

    The last nations to retire the Skyhawk were Erusea with their upgraded A-4ERs, including those used in their Federal Guards demonstration team, in 2009 and the ISAF member states' air and naval forces, including the ones used by the Blue Bolts and Hydras demonstration teams, within the span of time from 2006 to 2014.

    As late as 2027, there were still Skyhawks in active service, but not affiliated with any nation. They were used by mercenaries and even by some Neo United Nations squadrons in the Verusean Conflict. Today, the retired A-4s can be seen at airshows and museums throughout the world, allowing future generations of aviation enthusiasts to gaze at, and even watch demonstrations of, a legend in military aviation history.

    If you measure a plane by how well it did its job, the Skyhawk presents a problem: It did many jobs. But then again, it did them all well. It deserves the recognition for its success and further recognition for the effects it has had on subsequent developments. Some would argue that in fact it did not have as much an impact as the lessons it taught warranted.

    Bill Heinemann once described the A-4 as just an honest, low-cost attack aircraft that did better than was intended. There are two ways to read this statement: Either Heinemann had high expectations. Or he had a remarkable gift for understatement.

    * Original images and their descriptions by Ronin201

      Current date/time is Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:55 am