VA-153 Blue Tail Flies A-4E/F Skyhawk

VA-153 A-4E Skyhawk
VA-153 A-4F Skyhawk

A-4 Aircraft Evoloution

VA-153 Blue Tail FliesIn February 1959, Douglas submitted a proposal for an A4D-5 (A-4E) Skyhawk as a follow-on to the A4D-2N (A-4C). Proposed improvements included installation of the lighter weight, 8,500 lb thrust Pratt & Whitney J52-P6A engine; re-design of the fuselage center section and inlet ducting; addition of two wing station "hard points" for increased weapons-carrying; increased air-frame strength; and navigation and bombing systems upgrades. Price is $750,000.

Initially, conversion of two A4D-2N (A-4C) Skyhawks was authorized. The first A4D-5 (A-4E) flight took place on July 12, 1961 and a production contract for an additional 498 was approved shortly thereafter.

Delivery of A-4E Skyhawks began in January 1963.

Some A-4Es were subsequently retro-fitted with the 9,300 lb thrust Pratt & Whitney J52-P8A engines and the upper fuselage "hump back" avionics pod characteristic of the later A-4F model. (AFC-325)

Eight new A-4Es (and two TA-4Es) were sold for use in the Royal Australian Navy, delivered in 1967.

A-4E BuAer 152101 was converted to the prototype A-4F.

Carrier Combat Operations Vietnam 1967 and 1968

VA-153 Blue Tail Flies A-4E SkyhawksLTJG Tom NewellNaval aviator LTJG Tom Newell took his video camera to work and made this incredible film of Carrier Combat Operations Vietnam 1967 and 1968. This is a unique and important film that gives you a glimpse of what it is like inside the cockpit of a Skyhawk attack jet aircraft flying actual sorties in combat.

VA-153 fly A-4E aircraft on a 3rd Vietnam combat tour

August 29, 1967: Memorial FlagLT Michael J. Allard USN was shot down in A-4E Skyhawk BuAer 151025 NL 313 by North Vietnamese AAA fire. LT Allard was Killed in Action.

Blue Tail Flies are "Fast Movers" support for Khe Sanh & I Corps

January 20, 1968, North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops, who had been massing near the 17th parallel in South Laos, infiltrated the I Corps area south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) under cover of the monsoon rains.

NVA forces overran the Lang Vei Special Forces camp and laid siege to Khe Sanh, both bases which lay astride, and controlled, the main infiltration route, Highway Nine, into the I Corps area. The prop-driven Spads of VA-25 flew close air support in both sectors, some-times attacking enemy forces entrenched within the Khe Sanh perimeter. Meanwhile, VA-153 A-4Es concentrated on artillery positions, supply routes, and troop concentrations in Laos and the western I Corps area.

Costal Area Combat

On January 25, 1968, SAMs downed CDR Thomas Woolcock, CO of VA-153, as he flew a strike against a North Vietnamese coastal defense site that had taken the Australian guided missile destroyer HMAS Perth under fire. Woolcock ejected safely, and was recovered off the enemy shore by helicopter, ironically then taken to Perthby the Perth.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Ribbon Armed Forces Expeditionary Operations

During late February 1968 there was snow and ice on deck while conducting Operation Formation Star cold weather training in the Sea of Japan. This operation prepared men and machines for duty in March 1968 while USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), with VA-153 Blue Tail Flies embarked, operated on station off the coast of Korea following the capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2) in January by North Korea.

VA-153 fly A-4F aircraft on a 4th Vietnam combat tour

September 7, 1968 to April 18, 1969: VA-153 flying the Douglas A-4F Skyhawk deployed under CVW-15 on USS Coral Sea (CVA 43) for the Blue Tail Flies fourth combat tour to Vietnam. The squadron had no aircraft or aviator losses this cruise.