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Douglas F4D-1 (later F-6) 'Skyray'
Courtesy of the National Museum of Naval Aviation
After World War II, it was believed that there was an emerging threat of high-flying incoming jet bombers. To counter this, the U.S. Navy commissioned Douglas for a design study and mock-up for a carrier based, short range interceptor capable of a high rate of climb. Famed aircraft designer, Ed Heinemann, proposed a tailless aircraft with a distinctive “bat wing” based on the concepts of the German aerodynamicist Dr. Alexander Lippisch who was an advocate of the delta wing configuration. The first prototype first flew in January, 1951, and production models of the ”Skyray” were delivered to the Navy in 1956.
In 1953, one of the prototypes captured the world speed record (753 mph) and rate-of-climb record (49,221’ in 2.6 minutes), the first carrier-based design to do so.
The Skyray never saw combat and was also flown by the U.S. Marines, the Naval Air Reserve and Marine Air Reserve until 1964. It was also the only Navy fighter assigned to NORAD (North American Defense Command).