Tag Archives: Heinemann’s Hot Rod

2,960 Scooters Can’t Be Wrong

Affectionately later known as the “Heinemann’s Hot Rod,” the “Scooter,” and the “Tinkertoy,” the first hand-built prototype XA4D-1 Skyhawk attack aircraft, BuNo 137812, flown by Douglas test pilot Robert Rahn, took to the air at Edwards Air Force Base on 22 June 1954. It had been mocked up in just 18 months.

The Douglas XA4D-1 Skyhawk prototype (U.S. Navy Bureau Number 137812). It first flew on 22 June 1954. (Photo: Douglas Aircraft Co.).

Just short of 25 years later, the last (McDonnell) Douglas Skyhawk, the 158th A-4M model constructed, BuNo 160264 (c/n 14607) was the 2,960th Skyhawk completed, being delivered to the Tomcats” of VMA-331 on 27 February 1979, 44 years ago today. In all, 2,405 single-seaters were completed along with 555 double-seater “T” variants, averaging an aircraft delivered to the military every three days across the production run.

2960th. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation (Photo No. 2011.003.237.035)

Today, the 2,960th is on display at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at Miramar, wearing the shown paint scheme. She is one of at least 250 surviving Skyhawks on public display around the world in assorted configurations besides a few active birds with the Argentines and Brazilians or being flown by private aggressor outfits like Draken International. 

Throwback: Jester & Viper

Jester: “That was some of the best flying I’ve seen to date – right up to the part where you got killed.”

With the latest Top Gun sequel, I felt these striking images would be well-timed.

Official caption: “Showing off their camouflage versatility, a flight of TA-4J Skyhawks from the ‘Cylons’ of Attack Squadron One Twenty-Seven (VA 127) fly in formation with a Squadron A-4F Skyhawk. VA-127 has the mission of training aircrews in a realistic air combat maneuvering (ACM) adversary training environment.”

Although undated, they are from the early 1980s, before the unit was rebooted as VFA-127 flying F-5s and T-38s, and was a regular at NAS Miramar (“Fightertown USA”), about the time the original Top Gun was filmed.

Photographed by Bruce R. Trombecky. NHHC Photographic Section, Navy Subject Files, Aviation.

Photographed by Bruce R. Trombecky. NHHC Photographic Section, Navy Subject Files, Aviation.

You just have to love Heinemann’s Hot-Rod…