A-4 Skyhawk Maintenance

For every flight-hour the pilot logs, many maintenance hours have been logged on the ground repairing the Driver's "Squawks", performing the scheduled routine maintenance, and cleaning the wind screen for the next flight. For a military aircraft, it also means loading ordnance, and fine tuning those special black boxes.

Published on Jun 15, 2017: Lt. Colonel John Beard, WWII Pilot and Crispy Warrior, recites the poem "The Forgotten Man" a tribute to the faithful support crews who keep the pilots in the air. Recited at Crispy Warrior's breakfast at Another Broken Egg, Destin FL on 6-15-2017


Paul Galanti.

Status: POW
Date: 17 Jun 1966
Rank: LTJG
Aviator: Paul Edward Galanti
Unit: VA-216
BuNo: 149528
Description: struck by ground fire
Variant: A-4C

A couple of youtube videos on the Skyhawks at Skyhawk Resources of Denison Texas.

A-4 Skyhawk Mechanics Corner for several a/c and J-65 engine.

Pilot in-dept walk-around on A-L and TA-4J

Maintenance Photo Page.


1969: A-4F CVA-67 Naval Aviation News. MAR69 NAN photo of a crewman probably shining up the wind screen.


A quick meal and then back to the Flight Deck to load those bombs. Note from David A. Weber during a WestPac: "reminds me of an incident when I was down from the flight deck to grab a quick meal. There were bombs in their transport carts all around, I had to crawl over some to find a seat to eat. The bomb elevator to the flight deck was open, and suddenly a 750 lb. bomb strapped to it's cart came crashing down the elevator. It was nose down, but obviously didn't explode. Those of use eating hardly hesitated, and no one left that I recall. I'm sure there was some serious concern up on the flight deck about how that happened." 

Skyhawk Era Aviation Maintenance Specialists

Navy Enlisted Aviation Ratings:
"AB" Aviation Boatswain's Mate: Aircraft handling, fueling, launch and recover and utility activities. Normally assigned to an aircraft carrier or air base.

"ACT" Air Control: Air space control, taxi and runway aircraft direction control. Normally assigned to an aircraft carrier or air base.

"ADJ" Aviation Machinist's Mate: Jet Engine Mechanic. Assigned to squadrons, base facilities, and carriers.

"AE" Aviation Electrician's Mate: Aircraft electrical maintenance. Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AG" Aerographer's Mate: Aviation related photography. Assigned to base facilities and carriers.

"AK" Aviation Storekeeper: Aviation related parts supply. Assigned to base facilities and carriers.

"AMH" Aviation Structural Mechanic - Hydraulic: Aircraft hydraulic systems maintenance. Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AME" Aviation Structural Mechanic - Safety Equipment: Ejection seat maintenance, pilot equipment. Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AMS" Aviation Structural Mechanic - Aircraft structure maintenance. Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AO" Aviation Ordnance: Aviation ordnance preparation, loading and fusing. Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AQ" Aviation Fire Control Technician: Aircraft ordnance electronics such as radar, missile guidance. In some units this function is performed by the "AT". Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AT" Aviation Electronics Technician: Aircraft radio, radar, navigation and other electronics. Normally assigned to squadrons and base facilities.

"AZ" Aviation Maintenance Administration: Aircraft related record keeping. Normally assigned to squadrons, base facilities and aircraft carriers.

The Marines break their enlisted jobs down into MOS's, or "Military Occupation Specialties". They group MOS's with similar functions together into groups called "Occupational Fields".

Occupational Fields #60/61/62: Aircraft Maintenance

Occupational Fields #63/64: Avionics

Occupational Field #65: Aviation Ordnance

Occupational Field #66: Aviation Logistics

Occupational Field #70: Airfield Services

Occupational Field #72: Air Control/Air Support/Air-Traffic Control/Anti-Air Warfare

Murphy's Law

04 APR 2007
I have been searching for information regarding Captain J.N. Murphy, USN. I keep bumping into him linked somehow to the Skyhawk Organization. That may be because he was C.O. of Pt. Mugu back in 1950, when the A4 was in early development. I believe he was also C.O. at China Lake back in those days.
He retired as a Rear Admiral and I believe his final tour was as Bureau of Aeronautics General Representative - Central District (BAGR-CD) at Wright-Patterson AFB. Admiral Murphy was a Naval Aviator and designated as an Aeronautical Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO). I served under him at BAGR-CD at WPAFB. in '56-57.
My interest in him stems from the fact that I strongly believe that he deserves recognition for being the originator of "Murphy's Law". A USNA graduate, probably somewhere in the late 1930, he soon won his wings and was sent to MIT for graduate studies in aeronautical engineering, which lead to his designation as an AEDO. Pearl Harbor found him assigned to a fighter squadron aboard one of our Pacific Fleet carriers where he soon became one of our first aviators to gain combat experience against Japanese aircraft. Before long he was ordered back to BuAer in Washington where his combat experience could be utilized in the specifications for new fleet aircraft. In that role, he traveled about visiting our aircraft factories, consulting with their engineers on the design of new aircraft to help make them superior to the Japanese aircraft.
Our fleet aircraft were being maintained by boys barely out of high school, and one of the lessons Murphy constantly hammered on was, "If a part can be installed incorrectly, it will be installed incorrectly" or words to this effect. It was vital, he maintained, that engineers actually design parts so they could not be installed incorrectly. This became known in the aircraft manufacturing plants of WW II as "Murphy's Law".
I suspect Murphy's Law was incorporated in the design of the Skyhawk, and possibly even earlier in the AD and later SBDs produced by DAC, and most other post '41 designs of all WW II aircraft. Admiral J. N. Murphy deserves credit as the author. My research into the origins of Murphy's Law discloses that credit is generally going to some USAF engineer involved in the sleds used in ejection seat tests at a later date. Wikipedia does contain a brief mention possibly attributing it to a Commander J. Murphy who was a naval aircraft procurement officer in the '30s. This, I believe, may be a partially accurate clue, but they still give the credit to the USAF's Murphy.

How can we make this right? Rear Admiral Murphy was one of the finest Naval Officers I ever knew.

Allyn E. "Al" Rowley, CDR, Supply Corps, USN (Retired)
San Juan Capistrano, CA

Twidget's Note: I support the above assessment of the origins of "Murphy's Law". It's entirely possible that later another Murphy coined the jest of the law, perhaps based upon what he was exposed to, or had heard, earlier in his career. Or someone who worked around him remembered a past reference to a Murphy's Law and revitalized the term.
Perhaps someone who worked in the aircraft plants of WWII, or has related historical documentation of that environment, can verify that "Murphy's Law" existed in their environment.



AME2 John T. Gabbard, also known as "Gabby", served time with VA-43. In civilian life his influence on the Skyhawk Association Web Site was considerable, and he also served as a director. Using his own initiative, he contacted the Navy and obtained micro-film documentation of all the Skyhawks built. With much effort he deciphered those records and put them into a format for use on the web site. The Skyhawk unit assignments and associated histories was a gigantic effort. This information is in the members-only Ready Room.

Airman Gary Verver served at China Lake on the Line Crew. Witnessing many different a/c and weapons, his knowledge has contributed greatly to this web site. He is by far the largest contributor to this site in both knowledge and images. An effort to document the loss of every Skyhawk by Gary is a huge, ongoing effort on his part.

ATN-2 David Weber served with VA-75 (A-6A Intruders) and with VA-55 (A-4C and A-4F). With VA-75 he served aboard the U.S.S. Independence on a MED Cruise; and with VA-55 on 1.5 WestPac Cruises aboard the U.S.S. Constellation and the U.S.S. Hancock. Joining the association as the SDO Coordinator, he moved up to the webmaster's job and managed the web site for around twenty years.

Tailpipe is all checked out and the braking chute is packed. RNZAF.

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