Skyhawk Ordnance


Skyhawk Punch

Integral Armament:
The original A-4 Gun-sight, only one generation removed from WWII type gun-sights, had no radar to calculate "lead" (how far ahead of a turning target to aim). It does display aiming circles to assist in judging "lead", a poor substitute; but better than nothing. Photo from Phil Thompson, former RAN Aviator.

A-4M = 2 US MK12 20mm cannon (400 rounds)
All others = 2 US MK12 (200 rounds
A-4N, some A-4H = 2 French DEFA 553 30mm cannon (300 rounds)

MK-11 20mm Gun Pod

Mark 11, 20mm Aircraft Gun, in the Mark 1 POD, attached to the bomb rack of a Douglas A4D-2 aircraft, April 14, 1958. The U.S. Navy today unveiled a new pod-mounted weapon, a 20mm aircraft gun capable of firing 4,000 rounds per minute. This gun, called the Mark 11, was shown to Naval Aviators and representatives of the press at the Third Annual Naval Air Weapons Meet, held at NAAS El Centro, California.
This new weapon, which will offer a significant contribution to Naval Air Attack Capability, is carried and fired in an external pod which is fitted to the bomb rack of carrier-based aircraft. Its primary application is in air-to-ground attack, where its controlled variable rate of fire makes it extremely effective. Ease of rearming, replacement of the gun, and maintenance are notable features which add to the practicability of the gun.
RAdm. Paul D. Stroop, Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, indicated that with the Mark 11 gun and POD meeting the firepower requirements of future attack aircraft, there will be a gain in aircraft structural simplicity, since there would be no need for internal fixed guns.
Mr. Frank Markquaret, a Naval Ordnance Engineer in the Bureau of Ordnance, conceived the Mark 11 gun and POD. It was developed for the U.S. Navy by Flier Industrialist, Howard Hughes.
The Mark 11 is presently undergoing evaluation at the Naval Aviation Ordnance Test Station, Chincoteague, Virginia, and is expected to be operational in 1959. From Gary Verver

Mk-82 bombs without fuzes ready for loading aboard VA-144 Roadrunner Skyhawks 07AUG69. The elevator behind the bombs is used to bring them up to the flight deck. LCDR Stan Thompson.

Weapons Systems (Mfg.-Installed Provisions):
Special Weapons = A-4A/B/C/E/F/L/M, TA-4F
Sidewinder = A-4C/F/G/H/K/L/N/P/Q, TA-4G/H
Bullpup = A-4B/C/E/F/G/K/L/M/N, TA-4F/G/K
GCBS = A-4B/C/E/F/L, TA-4F
Shrike = A-4C/E/F/K/L/M/N, TA-4F/J/K
Walleye = A-4E/F/L/M/N, TA-4F

Ordnance Racks:
MCB (Multiple Carriage Bomb Rack)
MBR (Douglas Multiple Bomb Rack)
MER (Mutltiple Ejector Rack)
TER (Triple Ejector Rack)

Skyhawk External Stores Stations:
Centerline Aero 7A (two sets of suspension lugs with a spacing of 14 inches and 30 inches.) This rack receives a safety pin to "safe" the rack by opening the firing circuit, grounding the ejector pyrotechnics, and mechanically blocking the ejector hooks from opening. Small inspection windows facilitate verification of a positive hook lock.

Centerline w LB-18A Camera POD for in-flight still and movie film recording.

Wings Aero 20A (suspension lug spacing of 14 inches). This rack has the same safety feature as the Aero 7A rack.

[Ejector Pyrotechnics are small explosive cartridges that push the weapon away from the rack ensuring that the weapon safely clears the aircraft.]

Lt.Gen. William H. Fitch
FEB 1958 - Patuxent River U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduate.
1958 and 1959 - NAS China Lake's VX-5 Test Pilot.
MAY 1959 - Fitch conceived the idea of bomb racks that could carry multiple bombs on the limited number of weapons stations of the A-4C Skyhawk.
19 NOV 1959 - Fitch flew the first flight of an A-4 Skyhawk carrying a load of 16 Mark 81 inert bombs on what became known as a Multiple Carriage Bomb Rack.
For his efforts he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal.

Early 1960 - Douglas Aircraft Company utilizes the MCBR development for a production version of the MCBR that is designated the Multiple Bomb Rack (MBR).
JUN 1960 Fitch conducts the first test flights with the MBR where live bombs (eighteen Mark 81 High Explosive) were released.
25 FEB 1964 - Fitch receives U.S. Patent Number 3,122,056 for the development of the MCBR.

Today's Multiple Ejector Rack (MER) and Triple Ejector Rack (TER) evolved from the MCBR and MBR, and attach to an aircraft's main pylons (racks).

BRU-41 Multiple Ejector Rack is a weapon suspension unit capable of carrying up to six weapons of 1,000lbs each. Each of the six weapons ejector unit has four adjustable sway braces and two mechanically locking suspension hooks spaced 14 inches apart. Bombs are hung by two suspension lugs 14 inches apart, 30 inches for the Mark 84, and release is achieved by the firing of a pyrotechnic charge that actuates a piston pushing the weapon away from the rack. Each ejector unit is equipped with a safety stop lever that can be rotated to prevent accidental release.
BRU-41/A MER improved reliability and incorporated an electronic control unit.
Weapons release can be controlled on an individual basis

BRU-42 Triple Ejector Rack can carry up to three 1,000lb weapons that can be dropped individually or "rippled".

"Slick" Bombs for the MERs and TERs:
Circa 1950 - The U.S. Navy and Douglas Aircraft develop new bombs for A-4 Skyhawk.
Mark 80 series of "Low Drag General Purpose (LDGP)" bombs. Low drag as opposed to the old style fat bombs resulting in a more aerodynamic shape for carrying on external stores racks.
Mark 81 = 250lb (113 Kilogram)
Mark 82 = 500lb (225 Kilogram)
Mark 83 = 1,000lb (450 Kilogram)
Mark 84 = 2,000lb (900 Kilogram)
Ammo Xfer
U.S. Air Force bombs sometimes used by the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War:
M-117 - 750lb (340 Kilogram)
M-118: 3,000lb (1,360 Kilogram)

The standard smooth four fin tail configuration for these bombs are often replaced with a pop-out-fin tail to slow, or retard, the weapons speed when dropped allowing the aircraft to exit the area without being struck by it's own weapon's explosion during low altitude drops. These "retarded bombs" were called "Snakeyes", and were widely used in the Vietnam war.

Multiple bomb rack release settings:
Single, dual and train release. The Train release settings were .015, .030 and .060 seconds.
The sequence for weapons released off of a TER are 1. Aft Center, 2. Forward Center, 3. Aft Left, 4. Forward Left, 5. Aft Right, and 6. Forward Right.

NOTE: The total weapons load capability on the Skyhawk is determined by the total allowed maximum weight per stores station, not total weight capability of a MER or TER.
Also Note: a MER placed on the Skyhawk's inboard wing stations could not utilize the front inboard side of the rack for anything bigger than a Mark 81 because of the close proximity of the Main Landing Gear doors. Since each size bomb had it's own trajectory, the "mixing" of different size bombs on the same rack did not work; and since Mark 81's were not heavily used; that front-inboard station was usually empty.

A-4E U.S.M.C. Weapons Loads

Members can go to the Ready Room and access this pdf. In the military everything has a nickname or code name -right?: here are the codes used in the load-out orders for a Vietnam Era Marine Skyhawk. Provided by Charlie Robinson.

07AUG69: Mk-82 bombs, without fuzes, ready for loading aboard VA-144 Roadrunner Skyhawks. The elevator behind the bombs is used to bring them up to the flight deck of the U.S.S. Bon Homme Ricahrd.  LCDR Stan Thompson.

Special Weapons:
B61-2/5 Tactical

Smart Weapons:
AGM-12 Bullpup, AGM-65 Maverick
AIM9 Sidwinder, AGM-45 Shrike
AGM-62 Walleye (TV Guided-Glide)

Dumb Weapons:
2K, 1K, 750, 500, 250lb free fall and retarded bombs
BLU-Series Napalm
CBU-Series Cluster
LAU-Series Rocket Pods (2.75 and 5inch) (ZUNI Pods)
Gun Pods - Mark 11 Gun Pod
Aero 14B Spray Tank
Aero 5A Practice Bomb

Special Weapons on 142792 VX-5.

Weapons Rack Closeup at China Lake.

A-4C Weapons Load 148546 with VA-106.

A-4E Station Load-out Chart.

A-4E Weapons Load Douglas A/C

RAN A-4G Sidewinders: VF-805 A-4Gs were capable of carrying Sidewinder Missiles all four wing stations
Mark 82 500 lb Bomb Fuse
Note the arming wire running from the fuse's propeller back to the bomb rack. Drop the entire bomb rack, and the wire goes with the fused bomb and thus bomb does not arm. The fuse's propeller must make a certain number of revolutions to arm the weapon.

Rockeye Cluster Bombs.
22 JUN 1966. Rockeye II loaded on either a VA-163 or VA-164 A-4E aboard the USS Oriskany. Photo from Gary Verver.

FAE Ordnance.
01 MAR 1972: Fuel Air Explosive (FAE) in the magazine of CVA-41.

Fireye - CVA-34

Fisheye - VX-5 From Ray Powell

TDU-10 Towed Target Package

Under-wing Camera Pod

The eye series of weapons were free-fall weapons given that designation because they were aimed by eye. I (Gary Verver) was around for most of them and they include:

Bigeye BLU-80 Binary Chemical Bomb.

Briteye MLU-32/B99 balloon-borne flare. Cutaway of Briteye MLU-32/B99 balloon-borne flare.

Deney-2 Mine.

Deneye antitank mine-dispenser system (I dont have a photo of the dispenser) and the photo at right is the Deneye II anti-personnel mine.

Fireye: Fireye on VCA-34 22JUN66. Fireye, second pic.

Fireye MK-122. Fireye MK-122 second pic.

MK-122; Fireye MK-122 gelled-fuel weapon.

Gladeye MK-17 BW Sub-munition Dispenser System payloads. L-R bomblets, leaflets, napalm.

Misteye dissemination test at China Lake 04 October 1965. Official U.S. Navy photo.

Padeye; Padeye MK-12 dispenser. Usually filled with smoke balls and used to lay down a smoke screen.

Rockeye; Rockeye I MK-7 free-fall cluster bomb; Rockeye II MK-20 antitank/material cluster weapon (bomblet cutaway at right)


Sadeye CBU-75 cluster bomb unit.

Snakeye (Mk 81 and Mk 82 GP bombs)

Snakeye fin-retarded bomb

MK-83 retarded fin bomb

And lest we forget FISHEYE

Other projects from that era include ZUNI, Mighty Mouse, Shrike, Condor (rocket powered Walleye), ASROC, SUBROC, HIPEG, Tri-Sat-Riv and of course weapons to order such as "HAP".
HAP Sidewinder seeker and warhead mated to a Sparrow motor so they could shoot down some pesky Middle East hi-altitude MiGS that could not be downed by Phantoms with standard Sidewinders.

Also had a few duds such as the WW II bomb the diameter of a 55 gallon barrel that they dropped from a low and fast A-4. Asked the pilots how it went and they said it skipped like a flat rock on a pond and they made a hasty exit when it started climbing in their direction.

Also had LANABS on one of my Skyhawks (147781) which was a computer in a 400 gallon drop tank converted to house the boards. Never worked and it just disappeared.

Some of the dispenser weapons contents were too dangerous to be tested at China Lake and we would test them at Dugway in Utah. Plane captain was completely enclosed in a protective suit.

A4D-2 (A-4B) BuNo 142892 spent her career at China lake.
NAF China Lake with what looks to be a Mk-83 on the #3 wing station.

China Lake Skyhawk BuNo 142892 on the ramp with the Mk-256 bomb practice fuze project.

A "zoom in" of China Lake Skyhawk BuNo 142892 on the ramp with the Mk-256 bomb practice fuze project.

NAF China Lake with a Walleye shape on each wing station.

NAF China Lake with pair of Mk-44 Aerial torpedoes on an MBER on each wing station.

Closeup of the Weteye chemical bomb on the centerline.

In-flight releasing a Rockeye cluster bomb.

MBER and DENEYE anti-tank missiles on the centerline.

Project DIRTY Michigan pod on the centerline.

Closeup of the Dirty Michigan pod.

In-flight releasing a Walleye TV guided bomb.

China Lake Skyhawk BuNo 142892 on the ramp with project SNIPE on the stbd side.

a Lake Skyhawk BuNo 142892 on the ramp with a Rockeye II cluster bomb on the centerline.

China Lake A4D-2 BuNo 142892, with Padeye dispenser.

Padeye loaded on NO. 1 station of 142892.

BuNo 147680 and the Shrike.
05 MAR 1963: SHRIKE missile on the stbd wing.
A-4C BuNo 147680, Shrike missile and LCDR Jack Sickel. in August 1963.
A view of an AGM-45A Shrike surface attack anti-radar missile mounted on the wing pylon of China Lake A-4C BuNo 147680.
Lt. Tambini in flight over the China Lake test ranges with a Shrike under each wing. The small tube above the tail pipe sprays a fluid that turns to smoke when mixed with the exhaust making it easy for the range cameras to track the run. Plane captain was Joe Delorey.
China Lake A-4C BuNo 147680, Shrike missiles. Pilot is LT Tony Tambini. Official U.S. Navy photo from Ray Powell. Note: Tony aka Chrome Dome because of his chrome plated helmet left China Lake in 64/65 and deployed to Vietnam and became known as Ol Magnet Ass because of the flak he seemed to attract and they made him paint his helmet black.

China Lake A-4C BuNo 147781, AGM-62 Walleye TV guided bomb.
China Lake test ranges with a Walleye TV guided bomb on the center line ordnance rack.
Releasing a Walleye TV guided bomb jettisoning fuel over the China Lake test ranges. Photo taken by the camera chase plane that accompanied the test flight.

MK-122 Fireye loaded on center line station of BuNo. 142777. Pic1; Pic2; Pic3

Shrike testing with 147680 at China Lake.

AGM-62 Walleye testing at China Lake with 147781. Pic1; Pic2; Pic3

Fireye delivered by 149657. Pic1; Pic2

09 JUL 2001: RNZAF 75 Sqn. AC Tony Jackson fitting chaff and flares on A-4K Skyhawk BuNo 157904, NZ6201, Vanguard 01, Paya Leba, Singapore, 09 July 2001.

circa 1990: NZAF A-4K Skyhawk with post Kahu Weapons. RNZAF Official photo courtesy of Don Simms.

Unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk pre Kahu LGB Trial, date unknown. RNZAF Official photo courtesy of Don Simms.

Armourers attaching a LAU-5003 2.75" FFAR launcher to a TER on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date and location unknown. Photo courtesy of Don Simms.

Armourers attaching a Mk-83 to the wing pylon of an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date and location unknown. Photo courtesy of Don Simms.

Armourers attaching BDU-33 practice bombs to a PMBR on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date and location unknown. Photo courtesy of Don Simms.

Armourers attaching Snakeyes to a MER on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date and location unknown. Photo courtesy of Don Simms.

Armourers attaching a 5" FFAR launcher to a TER on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date and location unknown. Photo courtesy of Don Simms.

22 OCT 2002: RNZAF MER and Mk-82 500 lb. bombs with Snakeye retarder fins detail. Pic 1. Don Simms photos.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 2.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 3.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 4.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 5.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 6.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 7.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 8.
Mk-82 500 lb. bombs Pic 9.

09 JUL 2001: RNZAF 75 Sqn. Don Simms and ACMI Pod by squadron A-4K Skyhawk BuNo 154905, NZ6213, Vanguard 01, Paya Leba, Singapore, 14 September 2001.

09 JUL 2001: RNZAF 75 Sqn. AC Tony Jackson repairing a squadron A-4K Skyhawk, Vanguard 01, Paya Leba, Singapore, 09 July 2001.

09 JUL 2001: RNZAF 75 Sqn. A-4K Skyhawk BuNo 155069, NZ6218, as the ground crew fits an ACMI pod, Vanguard 01, Paya Leba, Singapore, 09 July 2001.


RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk post Kahu weapon configurations, circa 1988.

Three 500 lb. Mk82 bombs on TER on the center line of an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date unknown. Official RNZAF photo via Don Simms.

TGM-65B Maverick training missile on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date unknown. RNZAF Official photo via Don Simms.

TGM-65B Maverick training missile on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk, date unknown. RNZAF Official photo via Don Simms.

1998: Testing AGM-65 Maverick missile system on an unknown RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk in the AMS hanger, Ohakea, 1998 RNZAF Official photo via Don Simms.

Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM's) with Snurf's on and off RNZAF Official via Don Simms.

19-Tube 70 mm, 2.75" FFAR (Mighty Mouse) rocket launcher. Photo from John Bartels.

TGM-65G (Training version) Maverick missile. RNZAF Official photo via Don Simms.





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