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F4D-1 Skyray

An F4D-1 Skyray in flight.

The Douglas F4D Skyray was an American carrier-based fighter aircraft. 


Inspired by US Navy interest in German delta wing research during World War II, the F4D was developed from design studies conducted by Douglas Aircraft under the designation D-571, which were conducted in response to a request from the US Navy for a new delta wing interceptor with outstanding climb qualities. This led to a Navy requirement for a high-altitude fighter/interceptor issued in 1947, which led to the issuing of a

3 5

development contract to Douglas.[1] Two XF4D-1 prototypes were ordered on 16th December 1948,[N 1] with the first of these flying on January 23rd, 1951. This was fitted with a 5,000 lb st (22.24 kN) Alison J35-A-17 turbojet, due to delays with the intended Westinghouse J40. Both prototypes were later fitted with the XJ40-WE-6, before problems with the entire J40 programme resulted in production aircraft being fitted with the Pratt & Whitney J57.[2] An initial batch of 12 was ordered in February 1951, followed by an order for 230 aircraft in April 1952, these aircraft being fitted with the J57 following the decision to switch engine type in March 1953.[1] The aircraft eventually entered service in 1956. 

The Skyray only served with the US Navy and Marine Corps, and saw no actual combat. However, it did set several records, including being the first carrier-launched aircraft to hold the world speed record (752.9  mph), and setting a time to altitude record (standing start to 49,221 ft (15,000 m) in 2 minutes and 36 seconds, all while flying at a 70° pitch angle). The aircraft was also developed into the F5D Skylancer. Unfortunately, the F4D had a short service life, being retired in 1964 due to its inability to fulfill the multi-purpose role beginning to be required by naval aircraft.


US Navy[]

US Marine Corps[]


Single F4D-1 (BuNo 134759) used for trials between 4th April 1956 and 16th October 1959.[1]

General Electric[]

Used the second XF4D-1 (BuNo 124587) to flight test two engine types;


  • Powerplant: one Pratt & Whitney J57-P-8 engine, 14,500 lb st (64.5 kN) with afterburning.[2]
  • Maximum speed: 722 mph
  • Range: 700 miles
  • Ceiling: 55,000 feet
  • Crew: 1
  • Empty weight: 16,024 lbs
  • Length: 45 feet 3 inches
  • Wingspan: 33 feet 6 inches
  • Height: 13 feet
  • Armament: four 20 mm cannons, up to 6 rockets, 4 AIM-9 Sidewinder missles, and/or two 2,000 lb bombs.



  1. A static test example was ordered on the same date.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 96 Sheet 1 (World Military Aircraft:Douglas F4D Skyray - The Fighting Ford)
  2. 2.0 2.1 World Aircraft Information Files. File 892 Sheet 44 (A-Z of Aircraft Douglas DWC (continued) to Douglas M Series)