The Douglas A2D Skyshark was an attack aircraft powered by a turboprop engine that was manufactured for the US Navy.
However, the program was delayed due to engine reliability problems and because smaller escort carriers that the A2D was intended for were being phased out, the program was eventually cancelled.
In 1945, Douglas Aircraft received a request from the Bureau of Aeronautics to develop a turboprop-driven aircraft.
Three proposals were submitted over the next year and a half, but they were all cancelled due to engine development issues.
The Navy continued to seek a solution to the high fuel consumption of jet aircraft.
Douglas received the Navy’s letter of intent for a carrier-based turboprop in 1947.
This was because the need to operate from Casablanca-class escort carriers required the use of a turboprop engine instead of jet power.
The A2D resembled the AD Skyraider, but had several unseen differences.
Its Allison XT40-A2 engine had double the horsepower of the Skyraider’s R-3350 engine, with contra-rotating propellers to harness all the available power.
The wing root thickness was also reduced, while the height of the tail and its area grew.
The first flight was delayed due to engine development problems, and it was not until May 1950 that the A2D made its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base.
Unfortunately, Navy test pilot Cdr. Hugh Wood was killed when attempting to land the first prototype XA2D-1 on its 15th flight on December 19, 1950.
Investigations found that the starboard power section of the coupled Allison XT40A turboprop engine had failed and did not declutch.
In addition, the propellers failed to feather, causing a fatal sink rate.
The A2D program was essentially dead by the time the second prototype was ready to fly on April 3, 1952, due to all-jet designs being developed and the sixteen-month delay.
Allison was unable to deliver a “production” engine until 1953, and while testing an XA2D with that engine, test pilot C. G. “Doc” Livingston experienced a failed gearbox, resulting in the loss of the propellers.
The A4D was ready to fly by the summer of 1954, but the escort carriers were being mothballed, resulting in the cancellation of the A2D program.
Only twelve Skysharks were built, with most being scrapped or destroyed in accidents.
Only one has survived.
Specifications Crew 1 Length 41 ft 2 in (12.55 m) Wingspan 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m) Height 17 ft 1 in (5.21 m) Wing area 400 sq ft (37 m2) Airfoil NACA 0012 Empty weight 12,944 lb (5,871 kg) Gross weight 18,720 lb (8,491 kg) Max take-off weight 22,966 lb (10,417 kg) Fuel capacity 500 US gal (420 imp gal; 1,900 L), plus 3 × 100 US gal (83 imp gal; 380 L) drop tanks. Powerplant 1 × Allison XT40-A-2 turboprop, 5,500 shp (4,100 kW) equivalent – (5,100 shp (3,800 kW) + 830 lbf (3.7 kN) residual thrust). Propellers 6-bladed Aeroproducts, 14 ft (4.3 m) diameter contra-rotating constant-speed fully feathering reversible-pitch propeller Performance Maximum speed 492 mph (792 km/h, 428 kn) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) at 40,000 ft (12,000 m) Maximum speed at sea level 477.5 mph (414.9 kn; 768.5 km/h) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Cruise speed 276 mph (444 km/h, 240 kn) Stall speed 100.5 mph (161.7 km/h, 87.3 kn) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Combat range 512 mi (824 km, 445 nmi) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) at 338 mph (294 kn; 544 km/h) Ferry range 2,200 mi (3,500 km, 1,900 nmi) Service ceiling 48,300 ft (14,700 m) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Rate of climb 7,960 ft/min (40.4 m/s) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Wing loading 46.8 lb/sq ft (228 kg/m2) Power/mass 0.333 shp/lb (0.547 kW/kg) Take-off field distance sea level hot 465 ft (142 m) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Take-off distance to 50 ft (15 m) 940 ft (290 m) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Take-off distance to 50 ft (15 m) hot 1,350 ft (410 m) at 17,592 lb (7,980 kg) Armament Guns 4 × 20 mm (0.8 in) T31 cannon Hardpoints 13 with a capacity of 5,500 lb (2,500 kg).
Sources American Attack Aircraft Since 1926-E.R. Johnson. McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920: Volume 1-René J Francillon. Naval Fighters No.43, Douglas Skyshark, A2D Turbo-Prop Attack-Gerry Markgraf. Official Monogram US Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide 3, 1950-1959-John M Elliott, Maj USMC, Retired. San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.