F4D Skyray

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(Redirected from F-6 Skyray)
Douglas F4D Skyray
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F4D Skyray

Douglas F4D Skyray
RoleCarrier-based naval interceptor
First flight1951
Entered service1956
ManufacturerDouglas Aircraft Company
Length45 ft 3 in13.8 m
Wingspan33 ft 6 inm
Height13 ft 0 in10.2 m
Wing area557 ft²52 m²
Empty16,024 lb7,300 kg
Loaded22,648 lb10,300 kg
Maximum takeoff27,116 lb12,300 kg
EnginesPratt & Whitney J57-P-8,-8A or -8B turbojet
Thrust10,200 lbf dry
16,000 lbf afterburner
45 kN dry
71 kN afterburner
Maximum speed722 mph1,200 km/h
Combat range700 miles1,100 km
Ferry range1,200 miles1,900 km
Service ceiling55,000 ft17,000 m
Rate of climb18,300 ft/min5,600 m/min
RadarAPQ-50A radar
Fire controlAero 13F
Guns4 &times 20 mm cannon (wing roots)
Bombs2 &times 2000 lb (900 kg) bombs
Missiles2 &times AIM-9 Sidewinder
Rockets6 &times 7 2.75 in (70 mm) unguided rockets, or
4 × 19 2.75 (70 mm) rockets

The Douglas F4D Skyray was a carrier-based fighter built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Although it was in service for a very short time and never fired a shot in anger, it was notable for being the first carrier-launched plane to hold the world's absolute speed record and was the first Navy fighter capable of exceeding Mach 1 in level flight. It was also distinguished in being used by the only Navy Squadron (VFAW-3) assigned to the North American Air Defense Command. VFAW-3 was permanently based at NAS North Island, San Diego. Its unique and notable looks also played a part in making the Skyray one of the best-remembered early jet fighters. Affectionately known as the "Ford", this aircraft had a spectacular rate and angle of climb and set new time to altitude records.

Later designated F-6 in the unified designation scheme, the Skyray's almost delta-winged planform was inspired by Alexander Lippisch's work in Germany during World War II. The Skyray was a tailless design with long, sharply swept, rounded wings. The thick wing roots contained the air intakes feeding a single turbojet. Fuel was contained both in the wings and the deep fuselage. Leading-edge slats were fitted for increased lift during takeoff and landing, while the trailing edges were mostly elevon control surfaces. Additional pitch trimmers were fitted inboard near the jet exhaust, and were locked upward on takeoff and landing.

Originally built for the Westinghouse J40 turbojet, the Douglas designers fortunately took a conservative view and gave space for other powerplants. The J40 proved troublesome and was eventually cancelled, and the Skyray was fitted instead with the Pratt & Whitney J57, a more powerful but larger engine.

Production aircraft were not delivered until early 1956, while the U.S. Marine Corps received their first in 1957. In total, 419 F4D-1 aircraft were produced.

The Skyray was designed exclusively for the high-altitude interception role and was unsuited to the multi-mission capabilities soon in demand, so it had a short life in Navy and Marine Corps service, the last planes being withdrawn from service in 1964. A single aircraft was used by NACA (soon to be NASA) until 1969.

A derived successor, the F5D Skylancer, was designed and prototypes were built, but it was cancelled as too similar in mission parameters to the Vought F8U Crusader and also to reduce dependence upon Douglas Aircraft, which was also producing several other aircraft for the U. S. Navy.

Possible confusion: The F4D (old designation) should not be confused with the F-4D (new designation) - the latter being the "D" variant of the McDonnell F4 Phantom II.

Related content
Related development F5D Skylancer
Similar aircraft
Designation series (Pre-1962)

XFD - F2D - F3D - F4D - F5D - F6D

Designation series (Post-1962)

F-3 - F-4 - F-5 - F-6 - F-7 - F-8 - F-9

Related lists List of military aircraft of the United States - List of fighter aircraft

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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