TYPE; Carrier-borne dive/torpedo-bomber
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-3350 Cyclone 18, rated at 2,500 hp
PERFORMANCE: 322 mph at 18,00 ft
COMMENT:The Douglas BT2D-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat piston engines attack aircraft designed during World War II to meet United States Navy requirements for a carrier-based long-range, high performance dive/torpedo bomber, to follow-on from earlier types such as the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver and Grumman TBF Avenger. Designed by Ed Heinemann of the Douglas Aircraft Company, prototypes were ordered on July 1944 as the XBT2D-1. The XBT2D-1 made its first flight on March 1945 and in April 1945, the USN began evaluation of the aircraft at the Naval Air Test Center (NATC). In December 1946, after a designation change to AD-1, delivery of the first production aircraft to a fleet squadron was made to VA-19A.
The low-wing monoplane design started with a Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone radial engine which was later upgraded several times. Its distinctive feature was large straight wings with seven hard points apiece. The Skyraider possessed excellent low-speed maneuverability and carried a large amount of ordonance over a considerable combat radius. The aircraft was optimized for the ground-attack mission and was armored against ground fire in key locations, unlike faster fighters adapted to carry bombs, such as the Vought F4U Corsair or North-American P-5 Mustang.
Shortly after Heinemann began designing the XBT2D-1, a study was issued that showed for every 45 kg of weight reduction, the takeoff run was decreased by 2.4 m, the combat radius increased by 22 mi and the rate-of-climb increased by 18 ft/min. Heinemann immediately had his design engineers begin a program for finding weight-saving on the XBT2D-1 design, no matter how small. Simplifying the fuel system, eliminating an internal bomb bay and hanging external stores from the wings or fuselage, using a new fuselage dive brake; and an older tailwheel design resulted in a reduction ot weight by 820 kg. The first series was initially painted in ANA 623 Glossy Sea Blue, but during its career the color changed depending on its requirements.
The Skyraider went through numerous changes and was built in seven versions, before the Skyraider production ended in 1957 with a total of 3,180 having been built (Ref.: 24).