Douglas F5D Skylancer

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Donald McKelvy
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Model of Douglas F5D Skylancer manufactured by Allyn found on eBay.

Seller's description:
This is a Vintage Douglas F5D Skylancer Desk Model. This model was made by Allyn in the 1950's for Douglas. This large model measures 13 1/2" long and 9" wide. The model feels like it is solid plastic and the condition is good with some scratches on the bottom of the model. The model is 100% original and displays great!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Douglas-F5D-Skylancer-Factory-Desk-Model-Allyn_W0QQitemZ110470620168QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item19b88fe408
 

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OK, a tangent but, I have heard for a long time that the Skyray was an unloved beast. Yet folks here tend to anopposite view or neutrality. What IS the truth please?
 
OK, a tangent but, I have heard for a long time that the Skyray was an unloved beast. Yet folks here tend to anopposite view or neutrality. What IS the truth please?
I think the main reason why the Navy rejected it was that Douglas was already producing many aircraft for them (A3D, A4D, F4D, AD Skyraider) . And the Navy didn't want Douglas to have a monopolistic position.
What's more, the "Crouze" was already there.
 
Most beautiful aircraft ever made. Great potential as well. The Crusader is a great plane, but a part of me hates it for keeping the F5D from entering service.
 
OK, a tangent but, I have heard for a long time that the Skyray was an unloved beast. Yet folks here tend to anopposite view or neutrality. What IS the truth please?
My Father flew F4Ds with VF-23 (included a cruise on the USS Hancock to the Straits of Quemoy) and VF(AW)-3. VF-23 was his first fleet squadron assignment out of advanced flight training (flew F9F Panther/Cougar there) and VF-23 was transitioning from the F2H-3 Banshee to the F4D-1 when he joined the squadron. The aircraft was considered a mature, solid aircraft by then and yes, it had its quirks as did every jet aircraft of its day. Reading his cruise diary, availability rate and other factors were pretty good. Sister squadron on the Hancock was VF-154 taking the F8U-1 on its first cruise and they had to be offloaded in Hawaii due to various issues. VF(AW)-3 was the only Navy fighter squadron assigned to NORAD so that says something about the capabilities of the aircraft in comparison to USAF fighters at the time.

There is an excellent book on the Skyray by Mark Frankel - well worth adding to your library. Even has a chapter where Mark interviewed my Father about his time with the Skyray. Mark was a very good friend and kindly gave me about 6 hours of interviews with my Father - I could never get him to sit down and talk about his Navy time wth me for posterity.

Another book that tells the tale of various naval fighters in the jet era is Tommy Thomason's "U.S. Naval Air Superiority - Development of Shipborne Jet Fighters 1943-1962. Tommy lays out the efficacy of the aircraft of the era and other influences that affected those aircraft such as the straight deck's impact on the F7U-3 Cutlass safety record. The angled deck really made a huge difference in the safety of aircraft carrier operations.

Enjoy the Day! Mark
 
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There is an excellent book on the Skyray by Mark Frankel - well worth adding to your library.
This one I presume:

71i295pjVqL._SL1200_.jpg
 
You want F4D truths? I have some:

https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-first-supersonic-us-navy-fighter.html

https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2022/03/naval-fighters-number-113-douglas-f4d.html

https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2009/01/not-as-easy-as-it-looks.html

https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2023/03/comparing-us-navy-swept-wing-fighter.html

https://thanlont.blogspot.com/2008/11/real-men-dont-need-catapults.html

https://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2010/10/bat-out-of-hell.html

And an excerpt from my forthcoming F7U-3 book (coauthored with Al Casby):

Some Reputations Are Based on Ill-informed Gossip; Others, Unexamined Statements, and Misconstrued Statistics


Ironically, the widely held reputations of the Navy’s first three jet fighters equipped with afterburners are not justified. Many aviation enthusiasts hold the Douglas F4D Skyray in high regard, in large part because of its world records for climb and speed performance while the McDonnell F3H Demon is considered a disappointment and thought to have been quickly retired. The Vought F7U-3 Cutlass? It was described in one error-filled online video as “The Strangest and Most Dangerous Navy Jet Ever Flown”.

In fact, from a carrier-based fighter standpoint, the F4D was the least effective of the three. To be fair, it was point-designed to fulfil a late 1940s Navy requirement for a deck-launched interceptor. The resulting sacrifice of range and endurance for climb performance was subsequently determined to be ill-advised with respect to defence of the carrier from air attack. The F3H had a long career considering the rapid advancement in aerodynamics and engine performance at the time. The F7U? It was superior to the F4D in every respect except for rate of climb and primarily an also-ran to the F3H because of its shortfall relative to the Demon in range and endurance, which was still better than the Skyray’s!

The Douglas F4D Skyray did briefly hold the world record for absolute speed—but contrary to numerous statements in print, it was not supersonic in level flight—and had a spectacular rate of climb, again setting world records, particularly when unencumbered with external tanks or other stores. That, however, was pretty much its only positive attribute. Without drop tanks, the F4D was a one-trick pony with less than one hour of flight time even with limited use of its afterburner. To match the range and endurance of an F7U-3 using only its internal fuel, It needed to be launched with two 150-gallon drop tanks (standard was two 300-gallon tanks).

NATC’s final BIS report dated 6 January 1958 was frank about some of its other shortcomings: “The F4D-1 (AW) is marginally effective as an all-weather fighter. Major deficiencies are a modest maximum speed capability, poor transonic flying qualities, and armament control system limitations.” Supersonic speeds could be achieved and maintained in a dive; however, there was no effective supersonic manoeuvring capability: “The aircraft decelerates rapidly as soon as g forces are applied.” However, at that point, most of the F4Ds on contract had been delivered and deployments with it had already begun to fulfil the need for a high-performance, all-weather fighter in the carrier air group.

The F4D had other shortcomings as well. Its handling qualities on approach were barely adequate (it didn’t help that forward visibility in heavy rain was poor). It had only one hydraulic system for flight control. If it failed, there was a reversion to manual (unpowered) control, which was only acceptable for a “deferred emergency”, i.e. one not requiring an immediate landing but rendering it no longer capable of its mission. A Douglas test pilot was nearly killed by his discovery that when the F4D was abruptly decelerated from maximum speed, it would pitch up violently; the addition of an electronic trim compensator was required. Although it was equipped with a visual-assist radar, the control stick partially blocked the pilot’s view of the radarscope used to aim and fire its unguided rockets, further decreasing the likelihood of hitting even a large, non-manoeuvering target with them. It was never armed with an effective long-range, all-weather missile, i.e. one that was radar-guided.

Before an upcoming deployment in 1959, an Air Group Commander tried unsuccessfully to exchange the F4D squadron that had been assigned to him for one equipped with straight-wing F2H-3 or -4 Banshees that he felt would be more operationally suitable for his all-weather fighter requirement. Its three-year career in the Pacific fleet was only a year longer than the F7U’s; in those squadrons, the “Fords” were replaced by F3H-2 Demons as soon as enough became available; F4D squadrons did deploy with the Atlantic fleet through mid 1962, probably because the carriers weren’t as far from shore bases. (given the plan to withdraw it from carrier-based squadrons as soon as practicable, BuAer didn’t bother with a formal change to provide the F4D with inflight refueling). Only nine deployable Navy squadrons were equipped with the F4D, the same as the F7U-3, although they did make more deployments than the F7U squadrons. F4Ds were also assigned to several Marine fighter squadrons, at least one of which deployed on a carrier, the rest being land-based where its limited range and endurance were not an operational handicap. Not exactly a glowing resume and yet a mention of the F4D Skyray nowadays does not result in sneering, uninformed, knee-jerk remarks about its supposed inadequacies like the F7U Cutlass does.
 

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