Written by Sussex-based author Tony Hoskins, the Douglas A-1 Skyraider Manual takes an in-depth look at the military aircraft, which played a significant part in the Korean and Vietnamese wars of the 1950s and 60s.
Bringing Tony’s engineering expertise to bear on the Skyraider story and providing revealing first-hand accounts of flying and maintaining the aircraft, the manual is supported with more than 260 photographs and technical illustrations.
The centrepiece of the manual is the G-RADR, a UK-based airworthy Skyraider AD-4NA, which has been restored and maintained by Kennet Aviation in Bedfordshire. The aircraft not only saw sustained combat in Korea, Algeria and Chad, but also kept its crews safe through numerous accidents and civil unrest, finally evading scrappage in the 1980s.
Talking about the ‘Spad’, nicknamed after the First World War French fighter, Tony says: “The Skyraider’s ability to carry a huge weapons payload and loiter over the battlefield for extended periods made it a formidable ground-attack aircraft.
“The Skyraider fulfilled a variety of different roles, from its primary function of close air-support to anti-submarine patrols and interdiction sorties, and from air ambulance to supply aircraft. For US ground forces in Korea and Vietnam, a Skyraider overhead provided welcome protection from the enemy, and it was probably the most beautiful sight to a downed airman awaiting helicopter evacuation following a bail-out over enemy territory.”
Designed at the end of the Second World War for the US Navy, the Skyraider almost disappeared from the US military’s inventory before it had the opportunity to excel in South-east Asia. In the high-speed jet-age world of the late 1950s, the Skyraider was a relic from an earlier time. Even after proving itself in the Korean War it was almost lost again, but it found a new life over Vietnam and in several civil war conflicts in Africa, long after jet aircraft were considered the norm.
For an aircraft that was considered obsolete within months of its entry into service, the Skyraider enjoyed a long and successful career, continuing to serve for nearly 40 years, eventually retiring in the early 1980s.
About the author
Tony Hoskins is an aircraft engineer and hobby pilot who runs South East Aircraft Services specialising in the maintenance and restoration of classic and vintage aircraft. He is also an engineer at Kennet Aviation in Bedfordshire, which restores and maintains warbird aircraft including the AD-4NA Skyraider, G-RADR. As well as making television documentaries on aviation subjects, Tony is the author of Flight from Colditz (2016) about the infamous Second World War prisoner of war camp. He lives in Sussex.
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