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twong

A-4 Chaff/Flare question

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I plan on doing a few A-4 variants like the A-4E in USN/USMC markings from the Vietnam era, USN A-4E and TA-4F aggressors, USN TA-4J trainer, USMC A-4M and USMC OA-4M.

 

I found some info stating that the A-4E got the chaff/flare in 1965 under Project Shoehorn.

 

Is there any way to tell which A-4's had which chaff/flare setup for a specific Bureau Number? From what I can gather, some had none, some had one on the bottom port side near the exhaust. Some had two on the bottom on either side of the tail hook. Some had all three. Which ones had one chaff/flare dispenser, which ones had two chaff/flare dispensers and which ones had all three chaff/flare dispensers?

 

Here is the chaff/flare layout showing all three.

zQcHFg3.jpg

 

The Hasegawa 1/48 A-4E and A-4M have several chaff/flare layouts but I am not doing any of the kit provided markings and will be using aftermarket decals. None of the aftermarket decal instructions give a specific chaff/flare layout. They all show the three chaff/flare layout whether they are A-4E, A-4M, OA-4M, TA-4F and TA-4J.

 

For example, the photo below is of one of the A-4E aggressors I plan on doing and it doesn't have the chaff/flare near the exhaust but does it have the other two chaff/flare dispensers on either side of the tail hook?

dL8hDy5.jpg

 

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Edited by twong

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Here is the flight manual for the A-4E/F:

 

http://aviationarchives.blogspot.ca/2016/10/douglas-4ef-skyhawk-flight-manual.html

 

on pg 1-10 it shows the layout for the ALE-29A system with 2 pods, one by the tail and one by the hook. Pg 1-51 gives the operating info and there it indicates only 2 pods was the normal config. Of course the one by the hook is hard to see in most photos but if the one by the exhaust is there then most likely the other one is there well. Some photos do show the tail hook pod on one side while other photos show it on the other side of the hook so i guess either is correct.

 

edit: 

Here is a A-4C with blanking panels in place:

 

a-4c_148314_22_of_61.jpg

 

note the panel to the right of the hook while here is an A-4E with the pod to the left:

 

041_41.JPG

 

Jari

Edited by Finn

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The document you need is A4-AFC-418-I and A4-AFC-418-II, that was the technical directive for the installation of the ALE-29/39 System, it would give the location and all BUNO affected.

 

IAW the A-4E/F NATOPS, A-4M NATOPS, and the A-4 Weapons Loading Manual, the aircraft only had two chaff dispensers, not three.

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13 hours ago, Finn said:

041_41.JPG

Jari and GW8345 Thanks for the info.

 

GW8345, where would I find info on those NATOPS manuals you suggested?

 

In the photo you attached, would this be the typical chaff/flare layout for most A-4E/F's including the A-4M and OA-4M and even aggressors. I noticed some airframes don't have the chaff/flare on the port side near the exhaust but would they still have one on the port side behind the wing? I have quite a few A-4 kits planned so any info regarding the chaff/flare layout is greatly appreciated.

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If they were going into combat they would most likely have both pods loaded but in the Vietnam war when targets were in areas where there was no threats from radar guided SAMs/AAA or MiGs then there was no need for the pods and just the blanking panels in place, especially Marine A-4s doing close air support. Later on during peace time training flights if the mission called for C/F then maybe only one pod would be loaded or even two. As for the later A-4M, it looks like they moved the pod location from the back of the tail to beside the tail hook so it still has two pods:

 

File0006.jpg

 

as most A-4M photos don't show the rear pod any more:

 

8219.jpg

 

Jari

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42 minutes ago, Finn said:

 

File0006.jpg

Jari

Thanks again. So, only the A-4M had this layout side by side?

 

19 hours ago, Finn said:

041_41.JPG

All other A-4's including the OA-4M had this layout with no chaff/flare on the starboard side?

 

Here is an OA-4M showing the chaff/flare on the port side near the exhaust. So would the OA-4M have the layout as shown in the photo above with both chaff/flare on the port side only?

EmoxWR0.jpg

Edited by twong

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On ‎8‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 5:00 PM, twong said:

None of the aftermarket decal instructions give a specific chaff/flare layout. They all show the three chaff/flare layout

 

Granted the one by the tailhook base isn't shown/described, but the AOA A-4 sheets do show on the profiles whether the dispenser on the rear fuselage was there or not.

 

 

20 hours ago, Finn said:

in the Vietnam war when targets were in areas where there was no threats from radar guided SAMs/AAA or MiGs then there was no need for the pods and just the blanking panels in place, especially Marine A-4s doing close air support.

 

I'm not sure they'd deal with blanking plates? Majority of the Marine A-4s I've seen in Vietnam where the dispensers are visible it appears they are not blanked off, some are loaded, others may be just unloaded.

Here's an VMA-223 example in Vietnam:

VMA-223.jpg

 

 

 

19 hours ago, twong said:

All other A-4's including the OA-4M had this layout with no chaff/flare on the starboard side?

 

I don't recall seeing A-4s with the rear one mounted on the starboard side, but can't confirm. Seems to be "always" the left side.

 

For the one near the base of the tailhook, it seems it could be either side. See the -223 example above that has the antenna instead on the left side so it has the dispenser on the starboard side while the rear dispenser on the port side. While in the inflight refueling shot Finn posted the antenna/dispenser sides are swapped on opposite side.

Here's again setup of opposite sides same as the VMA-223 example above, this one VA-94 in Vietnam:

VA-94.jpg

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The pods were loaded in the shop, or whatever location they designated, as it was easier to load 30 tubes per pod times the number of pods required in one central location rather than going out to the a/c, pulling the pods out of all the a/c, go to the shop, fill them and go back to the flightline and load them back into the same the a/c they were taken out of. The blanking panels just covered the holes, if not needed the pods most likely were kept in the shop, with some no doubt already filled ready to go. Of course there were times when they kept the empty pods in the a/c during times of increased activity when there wasn't time to pull them out and put blanking panels in.

 

Here is one that looks to have the blanking panel in place:

 

A-4E Skyhawk, VMA-211, 2 July 1967

 

Jari

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Thanks again for the replies, greatly appreciated.

 

From all the info I can gather from my own research and from what has been posted here, the A-4E's and other variants that show the c/f on the port side by the exhaust, would only have one additional c/f on either side of the tail hook just behind the wings, not two depending on the antenna fit. So they would have the c/f on one side or the other of the base of the tail hook, not both sides. They would sometimes have only just one by the base of the tail hook and the one by the exhaust blanked off. Or one by the base of the tail hook blanked off and use only the one by the exhaust. The A-4's never carried three c/f at the same time.

 

Only the A-4M had the two c/f aft of the wing on either side of the base of the tail hook. They never had the c/f on the port side of the exhaust.

 

The A-4's were fitted with the c/f in 1965, were they originally configured with the one on the port side near the exhaust first or the one by the base of the tail hook just aft of the wing? Or did they get configured with both in 1965?

 

What about the other A-4's that show no c/f bulge on the port side by the exhaust? This photo just for example shows no c/f on the port side near the exhaust. Is the port side interchangeable where they could remove the c/f bulge and replace with a smooth panel? Or would it have only one c/f just behind the wing by the tail hook base?

On 8/13/2017 at 5:00 PM, twong said:

dL8hDy5.jpg

 

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Here is the early A-4E flight manual:

 

http://aviationarchives.blogspot.ca/2016/09/douglas-4e-skyhawk-flight-manual.html

 

latest change Nov 1966 and no mention is made of any chaff or flare being incorporated into the airframe, so the system wasn't added until after that date. As for the exhaust one, the pod fit into a housing and to remove the housing and associated wiring and replace it with a flush panel would require extra work, not to mention to put the housing back in when needed, so that is why they have the blanking panel instead as they were probably much easier to remove and install.

 

Jari

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From my experience;

 

We never put blank-off panels on when chaff buckets weren't installed (A-7's and F-14's), also, the only time we would fly empty buckets is when we were going somewhere (saved us from having to pack them up in a cruise box). The only time we would blank-off panels on when the housing wasn't installed, other than that most of the time we couldn't even find half of the blank-off panels. This was common practice through out NAVAIR until the Hornet's came around (they just had to be special).

 

The A-4E's and F's that were used for aggressor's were heavily modified from their war time configuration, most had their avionics hump removed along with the aft chaff bucket, guns, some avionics, etc so using them as an example for a war time aircraft is not advised.

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Thanks again for the replies.

 

I am just asking in general if the A-4's (excluding the A-4M) that never had the c/f on the port side by the exhaust if they would still have c/f just aft of the wings by the base of the tail hook. 

 

In the photo below, that particular A-4F doesn't have the c/f dispenser on the port side by the exhaust, would it then have the c/f dispensers just aft of the wings on either side of the base of the tail hook? Would it have one or two or none? I know they loaded the c/f depending on the mission but I am asking specifically about the A-4's that don't have the c/f dispenser on the port side by the exhaust, in general.

YxlO29f.jpg

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Probably if there wasn't anything by the exhaust then, unless you have photographic evidence to the contrary, there wasn't anything by the tail hook either. My guess.

 

Jari  

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I'd guess that if they didn't have the CDS on the tail then there would be 2 buckets by the hook.

 

But it would obviously depend on the variant and time frame you're looking at. To be 100% sure you'd need to know the mod number and/or have photos.

 

And If you can't find a definitive answer for the particular BuNo you're interested in, then it's also likely no one can (or will be bothered) prove you wrong. 

 

 

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