15 October 1955

Lieutenant Gordon L. Gray, Jr., United States Navy, with record-setting Douglas YA4D-1 Skyhawk, Bu. No. 137820, at Edwards Air Force Base, 15 October 1955. (Navy Pilot Overseas)
Lieutenant Gordon L. Gray, Jr., United States Navy, with record-setting Douglas YA4D-1 Skyhawk, Bu. No. 137820, at Edwards Air Force Base, 15 October 1955. (Navy Pilot Overseas)

15 October 1955: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, Lieutenant Gordon L. (“Gordo”) Gray, Jr., United States Navy, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record For Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 500 Kilometers when he flew a pre-production Douglas Aircraft Company YA4D-1 Skyhawk light attack bomber, Bureau of Aeronautics serial number (Bu. No.) 137820, to an average speed of 1,118.7 kilometers per hour (695.128 miles per hour).¹

Douglas Aircraft Company YA4D-1 Skyhawk, Bu. No. 137820. (Navy Pilot Overseas)
Douglas Aircraft Company YA4D-1 Skyhawk, Bu. No. 137820. (Navy Pilot Overseas)

The Douglas A4D-1 Skyhawk is a single-place, single-engine, delta-winged light attack bomber designed for operation from aircraft carriers. It is 39 feet, 4 inches (11.989 meters) long with a wingspan of 27 feet, 6 inches (8.382 meters) and overall height of 15 feet (4.572 meters). Its empty weight is 8,400 pounds (3,810.2 kilograms). It was powered by a Curtiss-Wright J65-W-2, a licensed-production version of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire axial flow turbojet engine, which had a 13-stage compressor and 2-stage turbine. It produced 7,200 pounds of thrust (32.03 kilonewtons).

The A4D was in production from 1956 to 1979. 2,960 one- and two-place aircraft were built. The Skyhawk remained in service with the United States Navy until 2003.

Lieutenant Gordon L. Gray, Jr., U.S. Navy (thrid from left) with the Douglas Aircraft Company A4D team at Edwards AFB, California, 15 October 1955. (Navy Pilot Overseas)
Lieutenant Gordon L. Gray, Jr., U.S. Navy (third from left) with the Douglas Aircraft Company YA4D-1 Skyhawk team at Edwards AFB, California, 15 October 1955. (Navy Pilot Overseas)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8859

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

8 thoughts on “15 October 1955

    1. Hmmmm. Well, I could be wrong, I suppose, but these sources suggest otherwise: According to “Century of Flight,” “. . . a delta wing is a wing whose shape when viewed from above looks like a triangle, often with its tips cut off.” The U.S. Navy’s “NAVWEPS01-40-AVA-1 Flight Handbook Navy Model A4D-1 and A4D-2 Aircraft” describes the A4D as a “. . . single-place monoplane with a modified delta-planform wing. . .” According to a NACA report,”Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft,” the configuration of the A4D “. . . is characterized by a cropped delta wing of 33° sweepback. . .” Another NASA report, “NASA’s Contributions to Aeronautics describes “the Douglas Company’s superlative A4D-1 Skyhawk” as a “tailed delta.” The National Naval Aviation Museum calls it “The delta-wing A-4 (A4D) Skyhawk. . .” The Museum of Flight describes them as, “stubby modified delta wings. . .” The Oregon Air and Space Museum writes about the “simple yet extremely strong modified delta platform [sic] wing. . . ” The Western Museum of Flight states that the A-4A Skyhawk is “delta-winged.” Skytamer refers to Ed Heinemann’s “choice of a delta wing. . .” The A-4 Skyhawk Association website has a photograph with the caption, “A-4 Delta Wing Assembly Line.” There are another four photographs on that site identified as “Douglas photo of the A-4 Delta Wing.”

  1. It definitely is a delta wing aircraft, it just also has a conventional horizontal stabilizer, as opposed to having no horizontal tail, as in the Convair F-102/106 or Concorde. Delta refers to the shape of the wing, not on whether there’s a horizontal tail or not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *