• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

Douglas A-4T for FN

hesham

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
May 26, 2006
Messages
26,125
Reaction score
3,027
Hi,

The Douglas A-4T was a project for French navy (FN) to
replace the Dassault Etendard,but dropped in favour of
Super Etendard,did you hear about it ?.
 

Jemiba

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2006
Messages
8,183
Reaction score
808
There was even a A-4 on the french carrier Foch in 1972, even with
(very small) french roundels !
After the failure of the Jaguar M the Aeronavale was looking for a
substitute, the Douglas A-4 or the Vought A-7 were considered,
in the end it was a "buy french" decision with the Super Etendard.

More infos here :
http://www.ffaa.net/projects/skyhawk/skyhawk.htm
 

hesham

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
May 26, 2006
Messages
26,125
Reaction score
3,027
Hi,


is there any drawing survivor for it ?.
 

VictorXL188

Former Aviation journalist/writer
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
282
Reaction score
447
When discovering this project a couple of years ago, I did do a quick mock up of what it might look like
 

Attachments

hesham

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
May 26, 2006
Messages
26,125
Reaction score
3,027
Great find,thank you Victor.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
1,267
It was one of the contenders for replacement of the antiquated Etendard IVs by 1982.

Competitors were

- Jaguar M (a miserable failure)

- Mirage F-1M (too much of an interceptor, overlapping with the Crusaders that did not needed replacement at the time)

- A-4T Skyhawk (considered obsolete)

- A-7 Corsair II
The best of the lot, what the French Navy really wanted, plus their links with Vought since 1939 and the V-156F, then the F-4U, and finally the Crusaders in 1964.
The A-7s would have been build under licence by Aerospatiale, a public wedge into Dassault private domination of French combat aircrafts since the 50's. The French government disagred, however, and Aerospatiale was told to concentrate on civilian jetliners.
The A-7 was all-weather hence expensive and a little too heavy for Foch and Clemenceau.

- An upgraded, low cost (supposedly) Etendard IV - the Super Etendard that ultimately won the day.

A very good website in both French and English
http://www.ffaa.net/projects/skyhawk/skyhawk.htm
 

circle-5

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
1,161
Reaction score
118
The A-4T would have been an excellent match for the diminutive size of the Foch and Clémenceau carriers. Thankfully, a more nuanced policy has since been gaining traction, with renewed NATO cooperation. Who could have ever imagined Hawkeye platforms on a French carrier back in those days? Sacrebleu!
 

hesham

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Joined
May 26, 2006
Messages
26,125
Reaction score
3,027
Many thanks to you my dear Archibald.
 

dan_inbox

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
725
Reaction score
238
circle-5 said:
the Gaullist "independent" attitude that began with leaving NATO and unceremoniously booting U.S. forces out of the country in 1966 (after obtaining all their nuclear secrets).
Can you substantiate this assertion?
The usual story here is that CDG booted out NATO when the US denied him the computers needed to acquire the A-bomb. Which led to Plan Calcul and various more-or-less successful projects before France got "la Bombinette".
 

Jemiba

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2006
Messages
8,183
Reaction score
808
The story and details of the French withdrawal from NATO aren't part of this topic here.
Please stay on-topic and avoid political discussions.
 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,005
Reaction score
329
circle-5 said:
It would have been surprising if the French had purchased anything but a French-made airplane, regardless of development costs. The logic of standardizing weapons across European forces was not high on France's agenda at the time. This policy was in place since the Gaullist "independent" attitude that began with leaving NATO and unceremoniously booting U.S. forces out of the country in 1966 (after obtaining all their nuclear secrets).

The A-4T would have been an excellent match for the diminutive size of the Foch and Clémenceau carriers. Thankfully, a more nuanced policy has since been gaining traction, with renewed NATO cooperation. Who could have ever imagined Hawkeye platforms on a French carrier back in those days? Sacrebleu!
It is worth noting that the Crusader was bought in the early sixties (just before the period you mentioned).
Specifically re: the A-4T would it have carried a radar (1) at all, and (2) compatible with the Exocet missile (key capability of the Super Etendard)?
If not then (and given that it lacked the Corsair II's then sophisticated all weather capabilities) then the lack of enthusiasm for the A-4T becomes more understandable.
 

Kadija_Man

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
2,016
Reaction score
99
Was the Exocet even on the horizon in the mid 1960s?
 

dan_inbox

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2006
Messages
725
Reaction score
238
The Nord MM-38 development started in 1967. That's Mer-Mer, ie surface-surface, but there was also right away an air launched version, initially tested on helicopters.
Today's ASM version the AM-39 started in '74.
 

Tailspin Turtle

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2007
Messages
694
Reaction score
58
Website
www.tommythomason.com
The A-4T was a variant of the A-4M, which did not have a radar in favor of a nose-mounted angle rate bombing system. However, the A-4 from the C onward had a radar for terrain clearance and navigation in all-weather conditions. Douglas would have been happy to put in whatever radar system that the French desired and would fit.
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
1,790
Reaction score
171
Tailspin Turtle said:
The A-4T was a variant of the A-4M, which did not have a radar in favor of a nose-mounted angle rate bombing system. However, the A-4 from the C onward had a radar for terrain clearance and navigation in all-weather conditions. Douglas would have been happy to put in whatever radar system that the French desired and would fit.
Did anyone have Skyhawk's equipped with actual anti-ship missiles like the Exocet/Penguin/Harpoon???

Pioneer
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
1,390
Reaction score
412
Off topic but, how CAN the politics of a weapon/system be removed from the weapon/system? Politics is just about the biggest influence on these projects.
 

Jemiba

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Staff member
Top Contributor
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2006
Messages
8,183
Reaction score
808
Foo Fighter said:
CAN the politics of a weapon/system be removed from the weapon/system? ...
Of course not ! Every military procurement is a political decision, including cancellations of the development
of contenders, ordering local built or foreign systems and so on....
But here, we have to limit the scope of our discussions to the technical side only, because
- discussing the political side isn't the ground of being for this forum
- political discussions too often end in ranting, quarrels and personal insults and attacks.

There are lots of political fora on the internet, which can deal with such political aspects, but probably discussions
like "which type of radar would have given the A-4 a sufficient all-weather capability ?" aren't really encouraged there !

;)
 

Kadija_Man

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
2,016
Reaction score
99
Pioneer said:
Tailspin Turtle said:
The A-4T was a variant of the A-4M, which did not have a radar in favor of a nose-mounted angle rate bombing system. However, the A-4 from the C onward had a radar for terrain clearance and navigation in all-weather conditions. Douglas would have been happy to put in whatever radar system that the French desired and would fit.
Did anyone have Skyhawk's equipped with actual anti-ship missiles like the Exocet/Penguin/Harpoon???

M.A.D




Three pictures of a Harpoon "training round" under a US Navy A-4 Skyhawk, found here

So, it is obvious that the A-4 could carry a Harpoon. However, acquiring a target and firing it is another matter. I don't doubt the story behind that A-4 carrying a Harpoon practice round is interesting but is it relevant?
 

GTX

All hail the God of Frustration!!!
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 15, 2006
Messages
2,898
Reaction score
344
Website
beyondthesprues.com
There is this image of an Israeli A-4 with (I believe) Gabriel ASMs:

 

kaiserd

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
1,005
Reaction score
329
Facinating pictures lads.
Did the French navy requirements that lead to the selection of the Super Etendard include the carriage of the Exocet (and the need for a radar for its use) or was the idea of mounting the Exocet more evolutionary in nature?
Did the French Navy specifically consider an amended A-4 configured with a radar and Exocet capability as a direct alternative to the Super Etendard?
The preceding comments suggest that the A-4T was radar-less.
 

Tailspin Turtle

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2007
Messages
694
Reaction score
58
Website
www.tommythomason.com
kaiserd said:
Facinating pictures lads.
Did the French navy requirements that lead to the selection of the Super Etendard include the carriage of the Exocet (and the need for a radar for its use) or was the idea of mounting the Exocet more evolutionary in nature?
Did the French Navy specifically consider an amended A-4 configured with a radar and Exocet capability as a direct alternative to the Super Etendard?
The preceding comments suggest that the A-4T was radar-less.
I haven't seen any documentation of the proposed/recommended/desired A-4T avionics but since the forthcoming air-launched Exocet was almost certainly a requirement and the A-4M was only radar-less because it was optimized for close-air support by the Marines, I'm sure that Douglas would have proposed qualifying a suitable (and French) radar for the A-4T. The A-4M was flown by the French pilots in the US to evaluate the type and flown by Navy pilots during carrier-suitability demonstrations on Foch, neither of which required a radar. In any event, the selection process appears to have been protracted and it may be that consideration of a license-built A-7 superseded that of the A-4T proposition and turned out to be the stalking horse for the Super Etendard.
 

Pioneer

Seek out and close with the enemy
Senior Member
Joined
May 22, 2006
Messages
1,790
Reaction score
171
Kadija_Man said:
Pioneer said:
Tailspin Turtle said:
The A-4T was a variant of the A-4M, which did not have a radar in favor of a nose-mounted angle rate bombing system. However, the A-4 from the C onward had a radar for terrain clearance and navigation in all-weather conditions. Douglas would have been happy to put in whatever radar system that the French desired and would fit.
Did anyone have Skyhawk's equipped with actual anti-ship missiles like the Exocet/Penguin/Harpoon???

Pioneer

Three pictures of a Harpoon "training round" under a US Navy A-4 Skyhawk, found here

So, it is obvious that the A-4 could carry a Harpoon. However, acquiring a target and firing it is another matter. I don't doubt the story behind that A-4 carrying a Harpoon practice round is interesting but is it relevant?
Target illumination/painting by 3rd party/source Kadija_Man ?
Just a thought :p


Pioneer
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
1,267
circle-5 said:
The A-4T would have been an excellent match for the diminutive size of the Foch and Clémenceau carriers. Thankfully, a more nuanced policy has since been gaining traction, with renewed NATO cooperation. Who could have ever imagined Hawkeye platforms on a French carrier back in those days? Sacrebleu!
France got his nuclear bomb by itself, and not by stealing any secret. Also, thanks to Dan Inbox for his balanced answer (which mine is not, obviously)
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
1,267
By the way, be confident the Aeronavale wouldn't have bought the Skyhawk if he had not been able to carry the Exocet. Even the SEM could carry one, under its wing, balanced by a fuel tank under the other wing. I'm quite sure the amazing A-4 could have handled an exocet on the centerline.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
1,267
Guiding the Exocet was the job of the Anémone radar. Whatever aircraft carrying Exocet (all the way from Super Frelon to Super Etendard, including Iraq Mirage F1s) needed Anémone or, alternatively, Cyrano radar hybrid with Anémone.

The Anémone wasn't a big or heavy set, a Skyhawk might have carried it in the nose...

I have asked webmaster of this site > http://www.ffaa.net/ some details over the "post Jaguar M, Super Etendard alternatives" because the story is rather murky.

Liébert did a good job detailing the pros and cons of the naval Mirage F1 with M53. The two issues that doomed it were
- M53-2 not powerful enough
- wing was too small, needed 25 to 30 m2.

The alternatives were
- A-7 to be build under licence by Aérospatiale in Toulouse (still nothing about this one)
- A-4T

Super Etendard was the winner on January, 19 1973. Flew in October 1974.

What happened next is pretty weird... in the fall of 1973 a two seater Harrier made trials on the Jeanne d'Arc and then on Foch.
http://www.ffaa.net/ made clear the trials were related to PH75 possibly getting Harriers in the future

Except that the Super Etendard decision had already been made, meaning there would have been Harriers and S.E on french decks by 1980 ?

That's the question I asked them, waiting for their answer...
 
Last edited:

kaiserbill

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Jun 7, 2006
Messages
1,286
Reaction score
96
Liébert did a good job detailing the pros and cons of the naval Mirage F1 with M53. The two issues that doomed it were
- M53-2 not powerful enough
- wing was too small, needed 25 to 30 m2.
Can you give a link to that actual piece please?
I was under the impression, from the thread on this forum here about the F1, that the eventual definitive naval Mirage F1 was to have a larger wing area, together with the M53, retractable refuelling probe...etc.
So I would like to confirm this. :)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: zen

H_K

CLEARANCE: Restricted
Joined
Feb 21, 2010
Messages
32
Reaction score
27
I wonder if the deciding factor that helped the Super Etendard edge the US options was its French avionics. The French were really behind in air-to-ground avionics - this became obvious when the Mirage Milan lost the 1972 Swiss competitive evaluation against the A-7.

So then comes the French Navy, with perfect timing, asking for a strike aircraft with A-7 level bombing accuracy and (specifically) requesting an inertial navigation system. A key challenge was to align the inertial nav system to the one aboard the French carriers. The US was unwilling to provide this technology, so a French solution was needed.

So this was a perfect opportunity to develop a modern French Nav/Attack system, that could in turn keep Dassault’s Mirage line competitive in export markets. I bet Dassault, Sagem etc lobbied hard for this. A US design like the A-4T probably wouldn’t have accommodated a complete French system (Agave attack radar, Sagem inertial navigation, HUD, bombing computer etc). Certainly wouldn’t have been cheep.

My 2c based on reading the extensive Comaero histories, such as this one:
 
Last edited:

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
1,267
Liébert did a good job detailing the pros and cons of the naval Mirage F1 with M53. The two issues that doomed it were
- M53-2 not powerful enough
- wing was too small, needed 25 to 30 m2.
Can you give a link to that actual piece please?
I was under the impression, from the thread on this forum here about the F1, that the eventual definitive naval Mirage F1 was to have a larger wing area, together with the M53, retractable refuelling probe...etc.
So I would like to confirm this. :)
It had all these features, indeed. M53-2 was merely 8000 kg thrust, when larger naval Mirages (G, F3) with the TF306E had 10000 kg of thrust.
The French Navy had his own "loitering " requirements, nothing like the USN with the Tomcat of course. Still, they wanted an interceptor able to climb, loiter, for a certain amount of time, probably with a pair of Super 530. Try as they might, a naval Mirage F1 with a M53-2 and the standard small wing fell short. They made studies of J79 and Spey powerplants, but even - zilch, still not enough. The naval F1 would need a larger wing.
And there, we have the Jaguar M 1971 issues that show a new wing was not affordable: it was one of the many reasons why it was scrapped.
Still, every single entry in that competition has huge alternate-history potential and a great coolness factor. A-7, Skyhawks, Harriers, Mirage F1M, Jaguar M... even the Super Etendard entry was not boring: it very nearly got an A-4 J52 engine. No kidding: the French Navy started discussions with Pratt for 140 engines. It went nowhere and the S.E got plain old Atar 8.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
3,713
Reaction score
1,267
Further research show the Aéronavale wanted the J52 because it was less thirsty than the Atar 8K50. Seems to have been unrelated to their interest for the A-4.

Vought really missed a great opportunity there. It just dawned on me... at the same period (1968-73) Vought and Dassault were locked into a knife fight - Mirage Milan vs A-7 for the Swiss air force. Which ultimately screwed both and picked refurbished Hawker Hunters from Great Britain (sic !).
The way Dassault played its political cards back then, you can be sure the Swiss competition was used to put the French Navy under pressure by the French Governement.
Basically
Dassault: "You can't pick Vought A-7 for the Navy ! That very same aircraft is pissing me in Switzerland..."

What is troubling is that the A-7s were to be build by Aérospatiale in Toulouse. Same thing: SNIAS-Aérospatiale had an acrimonious relationship with both French government and Dassault, because they had been brutally kicked out of combat aircraft by De Gaulle and Messmer circa 1965. Up to a point where Aérospatiale supporters inside the Armée de l'Air were sacked or told to shut up.
Circa 1965 Aérospatiale had made a last-ditch atempt proposing a Super Vautour to Israel (it lost) licence-build T-38 / F-5s for ECAT (they were rejected).
By the early 70's they tried again with this A-7 proposal. Also early Alphajet studies (they lost this one, too).

I feel something very ugly went on between
- Dassault and French Governement on one side
- Vought, Aérospatiale and the French Navy on the other.

An example of "Dassault vs US combat aircraft" debate going very ugly is the case of Paul Stehlin & Northrop.

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Stehlin
 
Last edited:
Top