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Douglas TA-4K Skyhawk Aircraft Data

Photo ID 121855 by José M. Ramos-Navarrete. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM
In 1968 the New Zealand government placed an order for ten single seat A-4K and four dual-seat TA-4K aircraft from the McDonnell Douglas company with delivery scheduled for 1970. The TA-4K Skyhawk was derived from the TA-4F, but with a slightly different avionics and radio suite compared to the US Navy version. It incorporated a drag chute and featured an enlarged fin with squared off tip.
The first two aircraft (A-4K NZ6201 and TA-4K NZ6251) were handed over to the New Zealand Ambassador to the US, H.E. Frank Corner, on 16 January 1970 at the McDonnell Douglas aircraft factory in Long Beach, California. The first three RNZAF Skyhawks were delivered to NAS Cecil Field, Florida by pilots from the US Navy's VA-44 on 6 February 1970. At this base , ten RNZAF pilots were undergoing their conversion. On completion of the conversion course, in April 1970, ten RNZAF Skyhawks were flown across USA by RNZAF and US Navy pilots to NAS North Island, San Diego, California. There, the aircraft were loaded aboard the helicopter carrier USS Okinawa. The other four remaining Skyhawks were delivered straight to NAS North Island from the Douglas works.

The USS Okinawa docked in Auckland on 17 May 1970. The aircraft were delivered by road to RNZAF Base Auckland, Whenuapai, and subsequently prepared for flight. On 21 May, S/L John Scrimshaw, CO of No.75 Squadron, flew the first Skyhawk, TA-4K NZ6254, south to her new base at RNZAF Ohakea.
In July 1984 another two Royal Australian Navy (RAN) TA-4G dual-seat Skyhawks were acquired by the RNZAF: N13-154911 and N13-154912 became NZ6255 and NZ6256. The aircraft were ferried by RNZAF pilots from NAS Nowra in New South Wales to Ohakea.
These aircraft, together with the remaining original A-4Ks were updated in from 1988 to 1991 under 'Project Kahu' (Kāhu is the Māori-language name for the harrier hawk or swamp harrier). NZ6253 crashed on 25 March 1981 and was not upgraded in the Kahu programme.
The Kahu update included the installation of a Westinghouse AN/APG-66 radar and weapons aiming systems, ring-laser gyro navigation, hands-on- stick-and-throttle (HOTAS), Ferranti 4510 wide-angle head-up display, and multi-function display glass cockpit. New defensive systems included the General Instruments ALR-66 radar warning receiver and the Tracor ALR-39 chaff and flare dispenser.

TA-4K serials and construction numbers

The first New Zealand order comprised four aircraft:
NZ6251 (c/n 14094) BuAerNo.157914
NZ6252 (c/n 14095) BuAerNo.157915
NZ6253 (c/n 14096) BuAerNo.157916
NZ6254 (c/n 14097) BuAerNo.157917

Two more aircraft were acquired from the Royal Australian Navy:
NZ6255 (c/n 13732) BuAerNo.154911, ex RAN TA-4G N13-154911.
NZ6256 (c/n 13733) BuAerNo.154912, ex RAN TA-4G N13-154912.

Preserved TA-4Ks

NZ6254 at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Wigram.
NZ6255 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Royal Australian Navy, NAS Nowra, NSW, Australia.
And then there is 'NZ6257': this is a composite aircraft, the basis being formed by the fuselage of a US Navy TA-4J, coded '715', that had crashed into the sea. The rear fuselage and fin are from a former Blue Angels A-4F, bought to repair A-4K NZ6218, damaged in June 1985. The rest is made up from unserviceable parts of other Skyhawk aircraft. Initially the new TA-4K was on display at the Ohakea Museum at the air base until the museum closed down in 2007. Although the aircraft was hangared at Ohakea, its condition deteriorated over the years. It had been planned by a concerned Ohakea Skyhawk community to tidy up the aircraft in time for the 80th Anniversary of the Air Force. In the end the shining NZ6257 was put on display on the roundabout outside the Ohakea Officer's Mess and unveiled on 15 March 2019.
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • First Flight: 5 December 1969
  • Initial Service Date: May 1970
  • No. Built: 6
  • No. In Service: 0
  • No. of Hardpoints: 5
  • Crew: 2

Power:

Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8A turbojet at 9,300 lbf

Weapons:

Two Colt Mk.12 20mm cannon with 100 rounds each.
Up to four AIM-9L Sidewinders on outboard and inboard wing pylons.
Alternatively the outboard station could carry one AGM-65B or G Maverick or a rocket pod with 19 CRV-7 2.8inch (70mm) unguided rockets or one Mk.82 500lb (226.8kg ) bomb.
The inboard station had the capacity to carry one Maverick or up to two CRV-7 rocket launchers. Instead of these up to three Mk.82 500lb bombs could be carried, or one Mk.83 1,000lb (454kg) unguided bomb or a GBU-16 Paveway II 1,000lb laser-guided bomb.

On the centreline station, the A-4K could carry up to 3 CRV-7 launchers or up to six Mk.82s or three Mk.83 bombs.

Instead of weaponry up to three drop tanks of 370 US Gallons (2,479lbs/ 1.400 litres) could be carried on stations 2, 3 and 4 (centreline and both inboard stations).

Dimensions:

Length: 43 ft. 7 in.
Wing Span: 27 ft. 6 in.
Wing Area: 259 sq.ft
Height: 15 ft. 7 in.
Empty Weight: 10,450 lbs
Max. Weight: 24,500 lbs
Max. Payload: 9,900 lbs
Internal Fuel: 4,583 lbs

Performance:

Max. Speed: 673 mph
Cruise Speed: 587 mph
Service Ceiling: 38,700 ft.
Normal Range: 1,173 nm
Max. Range: 1,912 nm

Operators:

New Zealand
The Royal New Zealand Air Force was the sole military operator of the TA-4K Skyhawk. The aircraft were based at RNZAF Ohakea with No.75 Squadron.

No.2 Squadron reformed in December 1984 also at Ohakea, to be equipped with the ex-RAN A-4G and TA-4G Skyhawks. The squadron provided pilot conversion and operational training, and was tasked for reconnaissance, systems evaluation, and procedures development. From the middle of 1988 the unit received the first updated Kahu Skyhawks for test flight trials. In February 1991 No. 2 Squadron was relocated to HMAS Albatross (NAS Nowra) in New South Wales, Australia with the updated A-4K Kahu Skyhawks to provide the Australian Navy with Air Defence Support, participating in exercises with RAN warships. The squadron was equipped with two A-4K and four TA-4K aircraft supported by 50 to 60 personnel. No. 2 Squadron continued to provide air defence training to the ADF until disbandment of the New Zealand Strike Force in November 2001.

In 1987 TA-4K NZ6256 was specially painted in an all-gold scheme to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the RNZAF. It was flown by display pilot F/L Glen Todd.

In 2012 two mothballed Skyhawks trainers at Woodbourne were sold to Draken International LLC at Lakeland Linder IAP in Florida. They were registered on 1 March 2013:

NZ6251 became N140EM.
NZ6252 became N142EM.

On 18 August 2016 N140EM crashed on approach to Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas USA. The pilot (sole occupant) ejected with minor injuries, but the aircraft was destroyed.

Random great photos of the Douglas TA-4K Skyhawk:

Photo ID 121855 by José M. Ramos-Navarrete. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM
Photo ID 193645 by Peter Boschert. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM
Photo ID 215350 by Peter Boschert. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM
Photo ID 142695 by Jonathan Derden - Jetwash Images. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM
Photo ID 204289 by Mark Munzel. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM
Photo ID 228117 by Jesus Cervantes. Company Owned Draken International Douglas TA 4K Skyhawk, N141EM