Combat experience in Korea showed the need for a jet-powered, carrier-based light attack aircraft. Led by renowned designer Ed Heineman, a design team at Douglas Aircraft took up the challenge and produced the legendary A4D (later redesignated A-4) Skyhawk. Despite its small size - the short wingspan made folding wings unnecessary - the Skyhawk could carry virtually every weapon in the inventory, including a tactical nuclear bomb.
The Skyhawk made its first flight on 22 June 1954. The first production aircraft were delivered in September 1956. The "Scooter" saw its first action during the Lebanon Crisis of 1958 but it was in the crucible of Vietnam that the Skyhawk proved to be one of the classic combat aircraft of its era. A-4s participated in the first strikes against North Vietnam in the summer of 1964. On countless missions in the years that followed, A-4 pilots pressed home their attacks against some of the most heavily defended targets in the history of warfare.
Despite continuous upgrades throughout its service life, the A-4 was replaced in Navy squadrons by the Vought A-7 Corsair II and in Marine units by the AV-8 Harrier. After leaving front-line service, the A-4 soldiered on as a trainer and in adversary squadrons at the Naval Fighter Weapons School - Top Gun - where it simulated the MiG 17. From 1974 to 1986 the A-4 was the mount of the Navy's Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels. Skyhawks were exported to Argentina, Australia, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.
The museum has three A-4s on static display, an A-4E, an A-4L and an A-4C.