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U.S. Navy A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War by Richard R. Burgess and Rosario M. Rausa, Osprey Publishing, 2009

Designed in 1944, the Douglas AD Skyraider was too late for World War II, but distinguished itself over Korea, even as that conflict was sealing the piston-engine warplane’s fate against the rapidly improving jets. The last of some 3,180 ADs, later redesignated A-1s, left the production line in 1957, and U.S. Navy attack squadrons equipped with them rapidly diminished as jet-powered attack planes such as the all-weather Grumman A2F—later A-6—Intruder took the Skyraider’s place. In spite of the seeming obsolescence that earned it the nickname of “Spad,” however, the Sky raider’s ability to carry a vast amount and wide range of ordnance, which earned it the added sobriquet “flying dump truck,” made it a versatile asset in the escalating war in Vietnam.

Number 77 in Osprey’s “Combat Aircraft” series, U.S. Navy A-1 Skyraider Units of the Vietnam War combines the skills of two former editors of Naval Aviation News, Richard R. Burgess and Rosario M. Rausa, the latter of whom had the personal experience of flying A-1s in two combat tours over Vietnam. All Navy units that served between 1960 through final withdrawal from the theater in 1969 are covered, with photos and color profiles to illustrate some of the striking markings with which the Spads went into battle. Firsthand accounts add a vital extra dimension to the narrative, including the occasional hair-raising encounters these lumbering but tough old birds had with surface-to-air missiles and MiG-17s—two of which were shot down by Skyraiders in the course of the war.


Originally published in the August 2009 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here