A-4E Early

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This page is about the American strike aircraft A-4E Early. For other versions, see A-4 (Family).
A-4E Early
a_4e_early.png
GarageImage A-4E Early.jpg
ArtImage A-4E Early.jpg
A-4E Early
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Purchase:450 000 Specs-Card-Lion.png
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Description

The A-4E, also known as the A4D-5, was a significantly improved version within the Skyhawk family. It had the J52-P-6A engine which produced almost 3,500 kgf of thrust. Most importantly, the P-6A had far better fuel efficiency which increased the range but did require parts of the airframe to be changed. The A-4E received improvements in computers such as the AJB-3A and Mk 9 bombing systems. A-4Es were later fitted with the improved J-52-P-8 and had the iconic hump behind the cockpit which housed more avionics.

Introduced in Update "New Power" as a squadron aircraft, the A-4E Skyhawk Early is an excellent aircraft for pilots who wish to use it as a ground attack or fighter. In the ground attack role, the A-4E Early has an impressive amount of armament options such as regular dumb bombs and rockets, to guided weaponry like the AGM-62A Walleyes. Unfortunately, the Skyhawk lacks any sort of CCIP however it does have CCRP capability thanks to the Mk 9 toss bombing computer. Fighter pilots will not be disappointed in the Skyhawk's ability against other enemy aircraft. Nimble and spry, the A-4E can put up a good fight against many of its contemporaries. It also has access to two AIM-9B sidewinders and flares which greatly help in uptiers against powerful missiles like the AIM-9G or R-60. Whether ground attacking or fighting against planes, players will not be disappointed with the A-4E Early's performance.

General info

Flight performance

Arrestor gear
Accelerates braking by grabbing the brake cable on the deck of the aircraft carrier
Air brakes
Allows you to dramatically reduce the flight speed by releasing special flaps
Max speed
at 0 m1 081 km/h
Turn time37 s
Max altitude12 500 m
EnginePratt & Whitney J52-P-6A
TypeJet
Cooling systemAir
Take-off weight11 t

The A-4E behaves like the A-4B, with excellent manoeuvrability at speed, aided by the automatic wing slats. However, the aircraft's poor energy retention during turns is profound, and airspeed will drop down to about 320 km/h (200 mph) after more than a 90 degree turn. Overall, it can turn with G.91s and MiG-15s without issue, however extended dogfights should be avoided. If uptiered, flight performance leaves much to be desired, it can be outmanoeuvred even by the Yak-38, F-104 or MiG-21 in a dogfight.

Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 0 m - sea level)
Max altitude
(metres)
Turn time
(seconds)
Rate of climb
(metres/second)
Take-off run
(metres)
AB RB AB RB AB RB
Stock 1,066 1,057 12500 37.9 39.0 29.5 26.7 900
Upgraded 1,096 1,081 36.5 37.0 51.4 40.0

Details

Features
Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear Drogue chute
X
Limits
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
1167 437 592 562 410 ~8 ~3

These wings are well-known to be fragile and to easily snap at relatively normal speeds. To prevent this, always pitch positive relative to the wing. Pitching negative, or yawing too violently, are easy ways to tear one or both of your wingtips. Use the plane's high roll rate to your advantage, and make it a habit to preemptively bank into your turns. Also avoid speeding up too fast in a dive, which can also tear off wings at high speeds, instead open up airbrakes or lower throttle to 50% before diving.

Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 450 < 700 < 490 N/A

Engine performance

Engine Aircraft mass
Engine name Number Basic Mass Wing loading (full fuel)
Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A 1 4,679 kg 296 kg/m2
Engine characteristics Mass with fuel (no weapons load) Max Takeoff
Weight
Weight (each) Type 12m fuel 20m fuel 30m fuel 40m fuel
900 kg Axial-flow turbojet 5,419 kg 5,913 kg 6,530 kg 7,147 kg 11,113 kg
Maximum engine thrust @ 0 m (RB / SB) Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (100%)
Condition 100% WEP 12m fuel 20m fuel 30m fuel 40m fuel MTOW
Stationary 3,470 kgf N/A 0.64 0.59 0.53 0.49 0.31
Optimal 3,470 kgf
(0 km/h)
N/A 0.64 0.59 0.53 0.49 0.31

Survivability and armour

Flares/Chaff
Aircraft countermeasures to distract IR and radar-guided missiles and also AA radar
Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural1 167 km/h
Gear437 km/h
  • 2.54 mm steel surrounding bottom half of the pilot
  • 50 mm bulletproof glass in front of the cockpit

The front half of the plane holds the pilot and a self-sealing fuel tank. The wings hold non self-sealing fuel tanks, and the back half of the plane holds the engine.

One single well-placed round from an ADEN cannon can completely cripple the plane by taking out the pilot or the engine. It is completely open to attack from the side and front although it can be armed with flares and chaff. Overall, survivability is quite poor, and players should minimize their chance of being hit by constantly looking around and by staying high or fast.

Modifications and economy

Repair costBasic → Reference
AB2 962 → 4 001 Sl icon.png
RB8 640 → 11 672 Sl icon.png
SB9 864 → 13 326 Sl icon.png
Total cost of modifications141 400 Rp icon.png
225 600 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost2 400 Ge icon.png
Crew training130 000 Sl icon.png
Experts450 000 Sl icon.png
Aces2 200 Ge icon.png
Research Aces890 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
110 / 330 / 600 % Sl icon.png
214 / 214 / 214 % Rp icon.png
Modifications
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods jet compressor.png
Compressor
Research:
4 700 Rp icon.png
Cost:
7 400 Sl icon.png
300 Ge icon.png
Mods booster.png
New boosters
Research:
5 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
8 400 Sl icon.png
330 Ge icon.png
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
Research:
5 900 Rp icon.png
Cost:
9 300 Sl icon.png
370 Ge icon.png
Mods jet engine.png
Engine
Research:
9 200 Rp icon.png
Cost:
15 000 Sl icon.png
580 Ge icon.png
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
Research:
4 700 Rp icon.png
Cost:
7 400 Sl icon.png
300 Ge icon.png
Mods armor frame.png
Airframe
Research:
5 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
8 400 Sl icon.png
330 Ge icon.png
Mods g suit.png
G-suit
Research:
5 900 Rp icon.png
Cost:
9 300 Sl icon.png
370 Ge icon.png
Mods armor cover.png
Cover
Research:
9 200 Rp icon.png
Cost:
15 000 Sl icon.png
580 Ge icon.png
Mods napalm fire bomb.png
MK 77
Research:
4 700 Rp icon.png
Cost:
7 400 Sl icon.png
300 Ge icon.png
Mods ammo.png
mk_12_mod3_belt_pack
Research:
4 700 Rp icon.png
Cost:
7 400 Sl icon.png
300 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mk81
Research:
4 700 Rp icon.png
Cost:
7 400 Sl icon.png
300 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods agm missile.png
AGM-12B Bullpup
Research:
4 700 Rp icon.png
Cost:
7 400 Sl icon.png
300 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods heli false thermal targets.png
Flares/Chaff
Research:
5 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
8 400 Sl icon.png
330 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
mk_12_mod3_new_gun
Research:
5 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
8 400 Sl icon.png
330 Ge icon.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mk82
Research:
5 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
8 400 Sl icon.png
330 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon block rocket.png
LAU-3/A
Research:
5 300 Rp icon.png
Cost:
8 400 Sl icon.png
330 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods air to air missile.png
AIM-9B
Research:
5 900 Rp icon.png
Cost:
9 300 Sl icon.png
370 Ge icon.png
Mods gunpods.png
Gun pod Mk 4 Mod 0
Research:
5 900 Rp icon.png
Cost:
9 300 Sl icon.png
370 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mk83
Research:
5 900 Rp icon.png
Cost:
9 300 Sl icon.png
370 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon block rocket large.png
LAU-10/A
Research:
5 900 Rp icon.png
Cost:
9 300 Sl icon.png
370 Ge icon.png
Mods ammo.png
Mk11_belt_pack
Research:
9 200 Rp icon.png
Cost:
15 000 Sl icon.png
580 Ge icon.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mk84
Research:
9 200 Rp icon.png
Cost:
15 000 Sl icon.png
580 Ge icon.png
Mods optical guided bomb.png
AGM-62A
Research:
9 200 Rp icon.png
Cost:
15 000 Sl icon.png
580 Ge icon.png

Armaments

Ballistic Computer
CCIP (Guns) CCIP (Rockets) CCIP (Bombs) CCRP (Bombs)
Icon RedXCross.png Icon RedXCross.png Icon RedXCross.png Icon GreenCheckmark.png

Offensive armament

The A-4E Early is armed with:

  • 2 x 20 mm Browning-Colt Mk12 Mod 0 cannons, wing-mounted (100 rpg = 200 total)
  • 60 x countermeasures

Suspended armament

The A-4E Early can be outfitted with the following ordnance:

1 2 3 4 5
Hardpoints A-4E Early.png
20 mm Mk 11 mod 5 cannons (750 rpg) 1 1 1
250 lb LDGP Mk 81 bombs 1 6 6 6 1
250 lb Mk 81 Snakeye bombs 1 6 6 6 1
500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs 1 3 6 3 1
500 lb Mk 82 Snakeye bombs 1 3 6 3 1
505 kg AGM-62A Walleye I bombs 1 1
750 lb M117 cone 45 bombs 1 1 1
1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs 1 3 1
2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 bombs 1
2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 Air bombs 1
Mk 77 mod 4 incendiary bombs 1 2 3 2 1
FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets 19 38 57 38 19
Zuni Mk32 Mod 0 ATAP rockets 4 8 12 8 4
AGM-12B Bullpup missiles 1 1 1 1 1
AGM-12C Bullpup missiles 1 1
AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles 1 1
Default weapon presets
  • Without load
  • 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles
  • 171 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
  • 36 x Zuni Mk32 Mod 0 ATAP rockets
  • 5 x AGM-12B Bullpup missiles
  • 2 x AGM-12C Bullpup missiles
  • 20 x 250 lb LDGP Mk 81 bombs (5,000 lb total)
  • 14 x 500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs (7,000 lb total)
  • 20 x 250 lb Mk 81 Snakeye bombs (5,000 lb total)
  • 14 x 500 lb Mk 82 Snakeye bombs (7,000 lb total)
  • 3 x 750 lb M117 cone 45 bombs (2,250 lb total)
  • 5 x 1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs (5,000 lb total)
  • 1 x 2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 bomb (2,000 lb total)
  • 1 x 2,000 lb LDGP Mk 84 Air bomb (2,000 lb total)
  • 9 x Mk 77 mod 4 incendiary bombs
  • 2 x 505 kg AGM-62A Walleye I bombs (1,010 kg total)
  • 3 x 20 mm Mk 11 mod 5 cannons (750 rpg = 2,250 total)

Usage in battles

In Air Realistic battles, one can use this plane in a wide array of roles due to the wide array of armament.

One role the A-4E can serve is as an air-to-air fighter. The A-4E can equip either the 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinders, the 2 x AIM-9Bs and the 20 mm gunpod, or triple gunpods for this role. The A-4E's standard 20 mm cannons can easily shred any plane in the sky with a handful of well-placed rounds, however it only comes with 200 bullets, so short controlled bursts must be used, and only should be fired sparingly. The missiles can easily supplement the cannon, however these early missiles have a narrow tracking cone, and can easily miss targets that fly erratically, so they too must be used sparingly. If one prefers to be a gun fighter, a single gunpod (or three) can be attached to spray down targets, however they drag down the plane's climb and turn performance (especially the triple gunpods, which eliminate this plane's climbing ability in a fight).

General tactics with the A-4E is to keep altitude until one finds a target to pounce on, preferably fighters trying to climb, low flying aircraft, or distracted aircraft. Always attempt to fight aircraft flying alone; attacking an aircraft within a group is risky, as your low energy retention will make it hard to escape if the attack goes unfavourably. It is also best to turn off if your target starts to evade; If you try to chase, you can quickly bleed energy. However, when uptiered, especially versus planes like the British Harrier GR.1, fighting offensively may not work at all, as these planes can easily outclimb and outrun you, and they will bounce you. In cases like these, it is best to stay back and play as a supporting fighter to your team, or simply switch to ground attack roles.

Your best defense is to not engage in fights where you are clearly outnumbered. However, if you are chased, there are little options for evasive manoeuvring. The plane's high roll rate will make it incredibly easy to dodge bullets, and the flares will help the plane dodge missiles. However, the low energy retention will make it extremely hard to escape the fight altogether, especially if perused by multiple aircraft. In such situations, your best bet is to have a friendly plane to pounce the chasing enemy fighters, which can give you a window to escape or fight back or to hide behind any hills or terrain that might cover you lower towards the ground.

If using this plane as a ground attacker, equip either FFAR or Zuni rocket pods, AGM-12 Bullpups, or the 20 mm gunpod, and attack ground targets.

Another option is to use the wide array of bombs, preferably the 14 x 500 lb loadout, and destroy enemy bases (typically you can only destroy one, sometimes two) with them. Do this by flying low and fast, to the base hitting one or two and then turn around away from the enemy fighters. When flying back to the base, if the jet has AIM-9's equipped, try to support the team by hitting or scaring off enemy fighters who may be attacking a helpless ally. Then, when you return to base, you could rearm with bombs, or rearm with AIM-9's and fly as a late-game fighter to finish off remaining players.

In Ground RB, the preferable secondary armaments are the FFAR or Zuni rocket pods, or the 5 x AGM-12B missiles. These missiles, with enough practice, function like a precision 250 lb bomb that is guided to the target, most of the time destroying it. The 2 x AGM-62A Walleye bombs can also be used very effectively with practice, however with only two bombs, it is better to use the five AGM-12B missiles instead. When using the Walleyes, climb high and dive down onto enemy tanks to get a lock onto them, which takes away most cover they might be using. As well as strike Roll, the A-4E can use its gun pods or its AIM-9s to take down other strike Aircraft or Helicopters. The A-4E can be well paired with the XM-803, MBT-70, or the XM-1 to form a good lineup.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Access to countermeasures
  • Excellent roll rate
  • Can utilize CCRP to assist in bomb dropping
  • Excellent ordnance options
    • Has strong air-to-air support capability with access to AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles, powerful quick-firing 20 mm Mk11 Mod 5 gun pods, or a combination of both
    • Can carry three gun pods at once for a devastating one-second burst mass
    • Has powerful ground-attack capability, sporting a variety of unguided bombs and rockets, as well as guided AGM-12B Bullpup guided missiles and AGM-62A Walleye guided bombs
    • Can Obliterate bases in Air RB with 250kg bombs and Napalm Mk77s
  • Decent acceleration
  • Radar Warning Receiver useful in uptiers
  • Has access to takeoff boosters that can be useful in dogfighting

Cons:

  • 2 x 20 mm cannons have low ammo (only 100 rounds each) and aren't particularly powerful
    • Inaccurate when stock; since they are your only weapon when stock, this makes for a painful stock grind
  • High speed manoeuvres can cause wings to rip
  • Fragile
  • Atrocious energy retention
  • Mediocre top speed
  • Mediocre climb rate
  • Carrying any kind of ordnance diminishes the plane's flight performance significantly

History

The A4D-5 Skyhawk was an improved model of the A4D-2N (designated A-4C in 1962). The main improvement came in the form of the more powerful Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A engine, producing 8,400 pounds of thrust. In addition to the new powerplant, the A4D-5 also received two more wing-mounted stores pylons, for a total of five. The avionics were also improved, including a new TACAN system and a toss-bombing computer. Later in their service life, many A-4E Skyhawks were upgraded with the fuselage avionics pod J52-P-8 engine (with 9,300 pounds of thrust) from the A-4F.

The A4D-5 first flew in July 1961, and was renamed to A-4E in 1962 after the Tri-Service Aircraft Designation System came into effect. The A-4E entered production in December of 1962; a total of 499 A-4E Skyhawks would be delivered to the US Navy and Marine Corps starting in January 1963.

The A-4E began to see combat in Vietnam after arriving in early 1965, but it did not fully replace the earlier Skyhawks such as the A-4C. After opening in June 1965, the Chu Lai Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS) housed Marine A-4E Skyhawks. The Skyhawks landed using arrestor wires and took off by rocket-assisted takeoff (RATO). Throughout the Vietnam War, A-4 Skyhawks were used to provide close air support (CAS) for Marine Corps ground forces, primarily using bombs and rockets. A total of 362 A-4s of all types were lost during the Vietnam War, including non combat losses. 271 were from the US Navy, and 91 were from the Marine Corps.

During the war, many A-4Es and A-4Fs were used in the United States for training purposes. They had their armament - including external stores - removed and their slats fixed, and were used as aggressors (where they would act as enemy aircraft for training). In the aggressor role, an A-4 was called 'Mongoose'.

1965 Philippine Sea Incident

It was December 5, 1965. This was the time of the Cold War and Vietnam War. Sailing 70 miles from the nearest island, 200 miles from Okinawa, was the USS Ticonderoga, carrying Attack Squadron 56 (VA-56) consisting of A-4E attack jets that were carrying nuclear bombs. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Douglas M. Webster, pilot of Douglas A-4E BuNo 151022 was performing a training exercise in his jet, rolling from hangar 2 to elevator 2. The jet was carrying a one megaton B43 thermonuclear bomb. An unspecified accident occurred, and the jet rolled off the deck. After a search, neither the pilot, the jet, nor the bomb was ever found, they likely sank the 16,000 ft (4,900 m) to the ocean floor. This was just one of the many "broken arrow" incidents during the Cold War.

The incident was acknowledged in 1981, but was misleading and it was fully revealed in 1989 due to a diplomatic inquiry by Japan. Lt. Cmdr. James Culda said on May 8, 1989 that "the environmental impact is expected to be nil", as the bomb was not armed and poses no threat at 4,900 m under the sea.

Devblog

The beginning of the jet era and the escalation of the Cold War forced the US naval aviation command to look for a replacement for the very successful carrier-based piston-engine AD Skyraider, with the possibility of delivering a tactical nuclear weapon in the area of operation of an aircraft carrier group. With the beginning of the military campaign in Korea, the Douglas Aircraft Company began developing a carrier-based attack aircraft with an unconventional approach - instead of pursuing engine power, usually bringing weight and large size to the aircraft, Ed Heinemann's team concentrated on finding ways to lighten the construction, keeping it under 12,000 lbs.

The projected aircraft was a fairly compact, lightweight jet fighter-attacker with a delta-shaped wing and a competently lightweight design. This is how the A-4A "Skyhawk" was born, one of the first jet-based carrier-based aircraft capable of carrying a nuclear bomb. The aircraft was distinguished by its simplicity of design, practical controls with excellent flight characteristics for its time. Soon, in 1956, the A-4B version appeared, capable of carrying a huge variety of mounted weapons on three suspension points, including guided missiles.

Thus, the Skyhawk had become a truly universal carrier-based aircraft, capable of solving the entire spectrum of tasks for US Naval Aviation. A rather noticeable drawback of the attack aircraft was still the limited range of action, also army types always wanted to increase the weapon load. In 1961, Douglas presented an improved version of the aircraft with five pylons for armament and a new engine, which compensated for a heavier combat load, and also increased the range of the attack aircraft. It was the A-4E that became one of the most massive Skyhawk modifications and formed the image of a modern carrier-based attack aircraft. The "E" version was actively involved in the Vietnam War, and later, up till the end of the 80's, was used to simulate enemy aircraft in training dogfights.

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Related Development

External links

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Douglas Aircraft Company
Strike Aircraft  A-20G-25 · A-26B-10 · A-26B-50 · AD-2 · AD-4 · A-1H
Bombers  TBD-1 · B-18A · SBD-3 · BTD-1 · A-26C-45 · A-26C-45DT
Turboprops  A2D-1
Jet Aircraft  F3D-1 · F4D-1
A-4 Skyhawk  A-4B · A-4E Early
Export  ▄Havoc Mk I · ▄Boston Mk I · ▄DB-7 · ▂A-20G-30 · ▄AD-4 · ▄AD-4NA
A-4 Skyhawk  A-4H · A-4E Early (M) · Ayit · A-4E
  The Douglas Aircraft Company merged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation in 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas.

USA jet aircraft
  Fighters
F-4  F-4C Phantom II · F-4E Phantom II · F-4J Phantom II · F-4S Phantom II
F-5  F-5A · F-5C · F-5E
F-8  F8U-2 · F-8E
F-80  F-80A-5 · F-80C-10
F-84  F-84B-26 · F-84F · F-84G-21-RE
F-86  F-86A-5 · F-86F-25 · F-86F-2 · F-86F-35
F-89  F-89B · F-89D
F-104  F-104A · F-104C
F-14  F-14A Early · F-14B
F-15  F-15A
F-16  F-16A · F-16A ADF · F-16C
F9F  F9F-2 · F9F-5 · F9F-8
Other  P-59A · F2H-2 · F3D-1 · F3H-2 · F4D-1 · F11F-1 · F-100D
  Strike Aircraft
FJ-4  FJ-4B · FJ-4B VMF-232
A-4  A-4B · A-4E Early
A-6  A-6E TRAM
A-7  A-7D · A-7E · A-7K
AV-8  AV-8A · AV-8C
A-10  A-10A · A-10A Late
B-57  B-57A · B-57B
F-105  F-105D
F-111  F-111A

Squadron aircraft
USA  A-4E Early
Germany  Me 262 A-1a/U1 · ◌Hunter F.58
USSR  Su-22M3
Britain  Firecrest · Sea Harrier FRS.1