Developed at the dawn of the jet age, the propeller-driven Douglas Aircraft Company Skyraider filled a vital niche for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Slated to replace the dive and torpedo bombers then in naval service during World War II, the single-seat prototype Skyraider first flew on March 18, 1945.
The first production AD-1 was delivered in December 1946 and the design played an important role in the Korean War. Flown by Navy and Marine squadrons, it was the backbone of close air support and ground attack operations. Though the plane was never designed for air-to-air combat, Navy Skyraider pilots shot down enemy fighters during Korea and Vietnam, a further testament to its abilities.
With its 18-cylinder, 2,700-hp Wright R-3350 radial engine and ample fuel, it had a combat radius (that included 10-hour missions) that far surpassed the fuel-hungry jets. Its straight wing gave it excellent maneuverability and the seven hard points under each of them, with another under the fuselage, enabled it to carry an impressive 8,000 pounds of ordinance, more than a four-engine B-17 Flying Fortress, loaded for combat with its crew of 10.
During the Vietnam War, the Skyraider added search and rescue to its ground support mission. Affectionately known as “Sandys,” Skyraiders would fly to the location of a downed pilot and stay on site, laying down smoke, napalm, rockets and 20 mm fire to cover their rescue by helicopter.
Douglas manufactured 3,810 Skyraiders in seven variations. The Skyraider that flew at Kaboom Town 2014 is an AD-5, which has a longer, wider fuselage that held two pilots and two crewmen. Equipped with the necessary systems, like a bulbous radome below the fuselage, these variants carried out other missions, including electronic countermeasures, night attack, and antisubmarine patrols.
Now in the care of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Douglas Aircraft delivered this AD-5, Bureau No. 135152, to the Navy in 1955. It served with the East Coast-based Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron Twelve (VAW 12) from 1956 to 1960, with VAW-11 in 1961 and 1962, and retired from active service in 1963. In 2008, the Cavanaugh Flight Museum added 135152 to its collection. The paint scheme is representative of AD-5s serving in the United States Navy.