All of the earlier Skyhawk variants were basically day-only attack aircraft, and did not have the capability to operate at night or in bad weather. The next Skyhawk variant, the A4D-2N, was intended to give the aircraft an all-weather capability.
The A4D-2N was equipped with an AN/APG-53A terrain-clearance radar in a 9-inch longer nose. In addition, it was provided with an angle of attack indicator system, a Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS), an autopilot, an all-attitude indicating gyro, and an improved Escapac 1A-1 low-level ejector seat. The windshield was provided with a wiper, and the cockpit layout was revised.
The A4D-2N was initially powered by the 7000 lb.s.t J65-W-16A turbojet, but many later received the J65-W-20 with a takeoff rating of 8400 lb.s.t.
The A4D-2N flew for the first time on August 21, 1958. It first became operational in February of 1960, with the Marine Corps squadron VMA-225. 638 A4D-2Ns were built.
The A4D-2N was redesignated A-4C in September of 1962. At that time, the A4D-2N was still in production. During the production run of the A-4C, the production line was moved from the El Segundo plant to the Long Beach plant, with final assembly being done at a government-owned plant in Palmdale, California. This move was carried out in several stages during 1963.
100 A4D-2Ns that were being phased out of fleet squadron service were modified as A-4Ls to fulfill a requirement for the Navy and Marine Corps Reserves.
As the A-4C and A-4L became surplus to Navy and Marine Corps requirements, several of them were delivered to foreign air forces--Argentina, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Two A4D-2Ns (BuNos 148490 and 148483) were modified in 1961 for evaluation by the US Army as a ground support aircraft. Each of these
planes was fitted with a drag chute stored in a canister underneath the rear fuselage and was fitted
with low-pressure twin-wheel main undercarriage members that retracted into enlarged fairings underneath
the wings. The two A4D-2Ns were evaluated by the Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama in competition with the Northrop N-156 and the Fiat
G.91R. However, it was decided that the Army would not be permitted to operate fixed-wing attack aircraft, leaving
responsibility for close air support of ground troops to the Air Force, the Navy, or the Marine Corps. As a result, none of
the competitors was ordered by the Army, and the two A4D-2Ns were
then converted back
to standard configuration and delivered to the Navy.
Engine: One Wright J65-W-16 turbojet, rated at 7700 lb.s.t. Performance: Maximum speed 657 mph at 4000 feet Cruising speed 496 mph. Stalling speed 140 mph. Combat ceiling 44,000 feet (clean), 40,000 feet with a single Mk.28 nuclear weapon. Initial climb rate 7100 feet per minute. An altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 4.5 minutes with a single Mk 28. Combat range 1140 miles (clean). Dimensions: Wingspan 27 feet 6 inches. Length 40 feet 1 inches, height 15 feet, Wing Area 260 square feet. Weights: 9146 pounds empty, 15,359 pounds combat weight 17,535 pounds gross, 22,500 pounds maximum. Armament: Two 20-mm cannon with 100 rpg. 3 underwing pylons.
145062/145146 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk c/n 12308/12392. Redesignated A-4C in 1962. 146460/146693 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk cancelled contract 147669/147849 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk Redesignated A-4C in 1962. 148304/148317 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk Redesignated A-4C in 1962. 148435/148612 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk c/n 12628/12805. Redesignated A-4C in 1962. 149487/149646 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk Redesignated A-4C in 1962. 150581/150600 Douglas A4D-2N Skyhawk Redesignated A-4C in 1962