Douglas US Navy Aircraft

Douglas A4D-1 – Douglas F3D-2 – Douglas F4D-1

The plan is that every week I will pick three aircraft from the museum’s collection to mention. Sometimes there will be a theme that links them but on occasions it might be that I think they look good or there might be something about them that makes me think they belong together.. It also might be that they are aircraft I think are ordinarily neglected and need to be brought out into the spotlight. It will all be terribly arbitrary

For this first instalment there are three themes linking these three aircraft – they were all flown by the US Navy, they were built by the Douglas Aircraft Company and they were all jet powered.

First off the ramp is the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, also affectionately known as the ‘Scooter’. It was a small aircraft for its time and I recall hearing that while a pilot got strapped into most aircraft you felt as though you were strapping on a Scooter. The kit from which this model was made is the relatively recent 1/72 Airfix A-4B, but I added a degree of difficulty by converting it back to the earlier A4D-1 (the designation given to it by the US Navy before the designation system was changed in 1962). Extra points to those who can spot the modifications.

Next is the Douglas F3D-2 Skyknight (also designated the F-10 after the change in 1962) which was a large twin jet, big enough to carry a large radar set and operator at a time when radar was still in its infancy and still cumbersome and heavy. It’s role was as a night-fighter and this all-black one flew for the US Navy in the skies over Korea during the Korean War. This 1/72 model was made from the Sword kit and I remember it as a very pleasant and easy kit to put together.

Finally for this installment is the ancient Airfix 1/72 kit of the F4D-1 Skyray (which was redesignated as the F-6 after 1962 but was also commonly called the ‘Ford’, for obvious reasons). This is one of those aircraft from the period in aviation history when aircraft designers were trying out many shape variations while trying to find the best shapes for high performance aircraft and I think this is one of the most attractive aircraft from this period. This kit was first published in 1976 and looks like it. When I made this model a decade or so later I was at a stage in my modelling where I did a lot of work to improve it, including folding the wings and dropping the control surfaces, which somewhat spoils the shape of the aircraft I now think. I have since acquired a few of the much better Tamiya 1/72 F4D kits which I will get around to making one of these days to show off the aircraft’s shape and the colourful markings of US Navy aircraft during this period.

We’re planning to add some more aircraft to the collection this coming weekend and to return with another Curator’s Choice this time next week.  See you then.