Tag Archives: VMA-331

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. 

Doodlebug A4

a4 doodlebug

An amazing painting by Kaike Shigeo showing a depiction of an USMC A-4M Skyhawk of VMA-331 “The Doodlebugs” sometime between 1973-83 when flying that model from MCAS Cherry Point. The squadron made five deployments to Republic of Vietnam in support of combat operations during the Vietnam War. They flew A-4’s in various models from 1959-1985 when they transitioned to the AV-8 Harrier. The unit was decommisoned in 1992, with one pilot, Capt Reginald C. Underwood, was killed in action during Operation Desert Storm.