Douglas F4D-1 (later F-6) “Skyray”

Douglas F4D-1 (later F-6) “Skyray” at the New England Air Museum


Type:   Carrier-based fighter/interceptor
Crew:   1
Armament:   4 X 20mm cannon; up to 4,000 external ordinance
Length:   45' 3”
Height:   13'
Wingspan:   33' 6”
Rotor Diameter:   
Empty Weight:   16,000 lbs.
Gross Weight:   22,650 lbs.
Cruise Speed:   520 mph
Maximum Speed:   722 mph
Range:   1,200 mi.
Service Ceiling:   55,000'
Powerplant:   Pratt & Whitney J57 with afterburner
Year:   1956
Serial No.:   134836
Location:   Outdoor Display

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).

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