Douglas A2D Skyshark

The Douglas A2D Skyshark was a turboprop-powered attack aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy.


Douglas A2D Skyshark
Class Aircraft
Type Attack
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1950
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Douglas Aircraft Company 12 View

On 25 June 1945, Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) asked Douglas Aircraft for a turbine-powered, propeller-driven aircraft. Three proposals were put forth in the next year and a half: the D-557A, to use two General Electric TG-100s in wing nacelles; the D-557B, the same engine, with counter-rotating propellers; and the D-557C, to use the Westinghouse 25D. These were cancelled, due to engine development difficulties, but BuAer continued to seek an answer to thirsty jets.

On 11 June 1947, Douglas got the Navy's letter of intent for a carrier-based turboprop. The need to operate from Casablanca-class escort carriers dictated the use of a turboprop instead of jet power. The advantages of turboprop engines over pistons was in power-to-weight ratio and the maximum power that could be generated practically. The advantage over jets was that a turboprop ran at near full RPM all the time, and thrust could be quickly generated by simply changing the propeller pitch.

While resembling the AD Skyraider, the A2D was an entirely different airplane, as it had to be, the Allison XT-40-A2 at 5,100 hp (3,800 kW) having more than double the horsepower of the Skyraider's R3350, with the XT40 installation on the Skyshark using contra-rotating propellers to harness all the available power. Wing root thickness decreased, from 17% to 12%, while both the height of the tail and its area grew. Engine development problems delayed the first flight until 26 May 1950, made at Muroc Air Force Base (renamed Edwards Air Force Base in 1949) by George Jansen.

Test pilot Hugh Wood was killed attempting to land a Skyshark in December 1950. He was unable to check the rate of descent, resulting in a high-impact crash on the runway. (Heinemann, p. 180.)

Allison failed to deliver a "production" engine until 1953, and while testing an XA2D with that engine, test pilot C. G. "Doc" Livingston pulled out of a dive and was surprised by a loud noise and pitch up. His windscreen was covered with oil and the chase pilot told Livingston that the propellers were gone. The gearbox had failed. Livingston successfully landed the airplane. By the summer of 1954, the A4D was ready to fly. The escort carriers were being mothballed, and time had run out for the troubled A2D program.

Due largely to the failure of the T40 program to produce a reliable engine, the Skyshark never entered operational service. Twelve Skysharks were built, two prototypes and 10 pre-production aircraft. Most were scrapped or destroyed in accidents, and only one has survived.

Role Attack aircraft
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight March 26, 1950
Status Cancelled
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 12 (4 never flew)
Developed from A-1 Skyraider


General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 41 ft 3 in (12.58 m)
  • Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 1 in (3.68 m)
  • Wing area: 400 ft² (37 m²)
  • Empty weight: 12,900 lb (5,864 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 18,700 lb (8,500 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 22,960 lb (10,436 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Allison XT40-A-2 turboprop, 5,100 shp (3,800 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 435 kn (501 mph, 813 km/h)
  • Range: 1,900 nmi (2,200 mi, 3,520 km)
  • Service ceiling: 48,100 ft (14,664 m)
  • Rate of climb: 7,290 ft/min (37 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 47 lb/ft² (230 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.27 hp/lb (440 W/kg)

Armament

  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) T31 cannon
  • Other: 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) on 11 external hardpoints

End notes