Aviation of World War II

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AD Skyraider
Deck Attack Aircraft

AD Skyraider in flight

By 1945, American naval aviation had seized almost complete air supremacy and the need for heavily protected aircraft had disappeared - now the fleet needed universal single-seat combat vehicles capable of attacking enemy ships with both dive bombs and torpedoes from horizontal flight at low altitude. For them, a new category was introduced into the Navy - BT (Bomber-Torpedo) and a corresponding competition was announced among well-known firms producing deck aircraft.

A torpedo bomber developed by E. Heinemann, XBT2D-1 by Douglas, was among the winners of the competition. The US Navy initially ordered the company a series of 623 aircraft, designated BTD-1, but canceled their order at the end of 1944. Nevertheless, the interest of the fleet in E. Heinemann's car remained very high. First, in the documents of the Bureau of Aviation of the Fleet, the aircraft was returned to the previous designation XBT2D-1 and ordered 15 prototypes, and later increased to 25 copies.

In the shortest possible time, an almost new aircraft was developed with the working name Dauntless II, which, against the background of its competitors, was distinguished by a high weight efficiency of the airframe. The estimated flight range was provided by a capacious fuel tank with a capacity of 1330 liters (350 US Gallons), located in the center of gravity of the aircraft. In addition, a standard 570 liter fuel tank (150 US Gallons) could be suspended under the fuselage.

The suspended weapons were supposed to be placed on three pylons: one of them was located under the fuselage, and the other two were located at the root of the wing. The latter also performed a protective role during a forced landing with the main landing gear retracted. Defensive weapons were not installed on the Dauntless II. The pilot was in a spacious cockpit under a teardrop-shaped canopy.

High flight characteristics of the aircraft were ensured by the installation of a new Cyclone 18 R3350-24W engine with a takeoff power of 2500 hp, which was temporarily replaced due to the incompleteness of the engine on the R3350-8.

On May 5, 1945, representatives of the Navy command signed a protocol of intent with Douglas to purchase 548 BT2D vehicles, but with the end of World War II, the production of combat aircraft was stopped just a day after the end of hostilities. The number of BT2D bombers ordered by Douglas was also significantly reduced - first to 377, and then to 277 aircraft.

The second prototype XBT2D-1 (serial number 09086) took off on May 8, 1945. During his tests, some hidden defects in the power plant were revealed. Only by the beginning of August, the second prototype of the XBT2D-1 was returned to the company for revisions.

Until the end of 1945, all 25 experimental aircraft were built. The first four were equipped with "temporary" R3350-8 engines, and the rest were equipped with the first production R3350-24W engines, which were foreseen by the project. In addition to the three main pylons for suspended weapons, 12 more small suspension assemblies, designed for 50 kg each, were fixed under the wing consoles. The cannon armament consisted of two 20 mm cannons. The designers of the Douglas company presented the BT2D as a versatile aircraft capable of solving almost all tasks facing deck attack and auxiliary aircraft.

In February 1946, BT2D Dauntless II is renamed Skyraider. In April, the BT (torpedo bomber) class of aircraft in the US Navy was abolished. It was replaced by class A - attack aircraft, and Skyraider received a new designation - AD.

AD-1 Specification
Crew 1
Wingspan, m 15.25
Wings area, m² 37.19
Length, m 11.63
Height, m 3.66
1 PE Wright R-3350-24W Duplex Cyclone, power takeoff/nominal 2500/2200
Weight, kg
Empty 4763
Loaded weight 6,305
Gross weight 8,665
Maximum speed, km/h 589
Cruising speed, km/h 298
Service ceiling, m 10060
Service range, km 3122
Two 20-mm cannons, on 12 bombs, up to, kg 2,720

Photo Description
Drawing Douglas AD-1 Skyraider

Drawing Douglas AD-1 Skyraider


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "American warplanes of World War II" /under cor. David Donald/