This collectible model AH-1 Skyraider shows one of the anachronisms of the Vietnam War – a slow, propeller-driven aircraft flying with high-speed jet fighters. But this was no relic - the heavily armed Skyraider played a vital role in ground attack and rescue missions. Painstakingly built from Philippine mahogany by skilled craftsmen using a wealth of detail, this 1/40-scale model Navy AH-1 Skyraider makes a great gift for any veteran, aviation enthusiast or history buff.
In the Vietnam War, pilots of mach-busting, high-tech jets had a nickname for the ungainly AH-1 Skyraider – the Spad, because it seemed as old-fashioned as the World War I fighter. But when the jet pilots were trying to avoid capture after being shot down, they welcomed the sight of the old attack plane, with its four 20mm cannon and ability to loiter for hours.
Developed during World War II as a carrier-based long-range dive bomber, the A1-H was designed by Ed Heinemann of Douglas Aircraft, who would later design the successful A-4 Skyhawk jet attack bomber. The AH-1 first flew on March 18, 1945, with service delivery beginning in 1946.
Powered by a Wright R-3350 radial engine of 2,700 horsepower, the Skyraider could carry up to 8,000 pounds of ordnance on 15 hard points – more than the bomb load of a B-17 Flying Fortress. In addition, it also carried four 20mm cannon in its wings.
The Skyraider was the Navy’s primary ground attack aircraft during the Korean War, first Skyraider mission flown in July 1950 from the carrier USS Valley Forge. A total of 101 Navy and Marine AD Skyraiders were lost in combat during the Korean War, and 27 were lost to operational causes, for a total loss of 128 Skyraiders in the Korean War.
In Vietnam, Skyraiders took part in the first Navy strike missions of the war on Aug. 5, 1964 in response to the Gulf of Tonkin incidents. During the war, U.S. Navy Skyraiders shot down two Soviet-built MiG-17 jet fighters: one on June 20, 1965, a victory shared by Lt. Clinton B. Johnson and Lt. j.g. Charles W. Hartman III of VA-25; and one on Oct. 9, 1966 by Lt. j.g. William T. Patton of VA-176.
By 1972, the remaining Navy Skyraiders were transferred to the South Vietnamese Air Force.