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USN NWEF Douglas A-1E Skyraider


Model ID#:












J. Fanning

Model Scale:


historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit: 1958

SKU: Model-0095 Category:

additional information

The Douglas A-1 “Skyraider” is an American single-seat attack aircraft in service from 1946 and served during both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  The Skyraider, formerly designated the AD-1 until 1962, had an unusually long career, remaining in front-line service well into the Jet Age.  It was operated by the United States Navy, Marines, and Airforce.  It remained in U.S. service until the early 1970s.

The Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility (NWEF), located at Kirtland Air Force Base, tested the A-1’s ability to deliver nuclear weapons in 1958. Test drops were conducted with aircraft 32503 at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). The drops tests were accompanied by other NWEF aircraft that were equipped with cameras to record the results. An aircraft, after dropping a weapon, had to be able to escape beyond the blast and radiation radius before the weapons impact with the ground. A timer was developed to delay the detonation after impact allowing this slow-moving aircraft time to escape. Sandia Corporation in Albuquerque developed this technology for these tests.

The AD-5 version of the A-1 was one of several aircraft used to test terrain following techniques. The aircraft flew near 50 feet off the ground in order to stay under enemy radar.  The flights were done in daylight over courses marked with oil barrels across the southern area of Kirtland Air Force Base. When night vision goggles were developed, the low-level flights continued at night. In 1970. during one test, the AD-5 pilot flew so low that his prop blade struck and cut one of the barrels.

Many versions of the Skyraider  were developed.  The A-1E had a larger cockpit for side-by-side seating with another crewmember located behind the pilot. The early AD series only a single pilot onboard. The photo shows one of these aircraft assigned to Kirtland AFB.

A rare AD-1 was recovered from the New Mexico Tech campus in Socorro, New Mexico on February 22, 1980.  The aircraft was moved to Kirtland AFB where the plane was restored and put on display.