|The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in the midst of acquiring a new airplane for display: a prototype of the famous A-1 Skyraider series of attack bombers. This particular airplane is called the XBT2D-1 Dauntless II and is being transported from the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia to the Museum, where it will be re-assembled and moved to the flight deck.
Skyraiders are rare with approximately 57 known to exist and, of those, about 20 are flyable. The aircraft coming to the Intrepid Museum is number 17 and the oldest surviving example in existence. The airplane was disassembled at Oceana starting on May 7 and was trucked to New York City in pieces. The reassembly will take place this week, and then the restoration and preservation process will begin.
Age and the elements are starting to take their toll on the airframe, which technically belongs to the National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMoMC). The NMoMC had recently determined that the airplane should be moved to a museum that can repair and perform the proper preservation work.
|The Intrepid Museum was thrilled and proud to accept the offer, especially because the Skyraider series has such an important connection with the service career of Intrepid. On October 9, 1966, while flying a Skyraider off of Intrepid, LTJG William T. (Tom) Patton shot down a MiG-17 over Vietnam. The Skyraider was not designed to be a dog-fighter, so air-to-air combat was very rare. This victory was an unusual instance where a propeller-driven airplane prevailed over the jet-powered MiG-17.
To learn more about the history of the Skyraider, it is important to look at its manufacturer, the Douglas Aircraft Company, before, during and after World War II. Douglas had been the primary supplier of attack aircraft for the U.S. Navy before and during the early stages of the war, but its products were being displaced by other manufacturers. After the war, Douglas wanted back in the game and introduced two new types of aircraft: the Destroyer scout bomber and the Skypirate torpedo bomber.
Additionally, the U.S. Navy determined that defensive armament on its bombers was no longer essential. This change in tactics meant that the Navy was looking for single-seat attack aircraft that could be both a dive and torpedo bomber.
To meet this new approach, Douglas altered its Destroyer type into a single-seat attack airplane. Starting fresh with a new design and led by the legendary Chief Engineer Ed Heinemann, Douglas created an airplane that owed little to the earlier designs. It had a large wing, which folded directly upward for stowage on carriers, and all the offensive weapons were carried on racks underneath. There was no defensive armament at all.
This first XBT2D-1 made its maiden flight on March 18, 1945. The flight tests proved it to be an excellent aircraft. In all, 25 XBT2D-1 prototypes were built. In 1946, the U.S. Navy eliminated the BT designation category, replacing it with A for attack. The BT2D-1 was redesignated AD-1 and was renamed Skyraider.
Eventually 3,180 Skyraiders in several configurations were built. They served not only the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in both the Korean War and Vietnam War, but also with the U.S. Air Force and with ten other nations.
The Museum looks forward to restoring this Skyraider and eventually having it on display on the flight deck for all visitors to see.