by Tommy H. Thomason

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Widebody Skyraider

From the beginning, the AD Skyraider was adapted for other missions requiring a heavy burden of avionics and additional crewmembers, such as antisubmarine warfare (ASW), airborne early warning (AEW), night attack, and electronic reconnaissance/countermeasures. The added crew were seated in the fuselage behind and below the pilot.

Douglas proposed a significant fuselage modification to the AD in December 1949 for an antisubmarine warfare airplane that combined the hunter and killer requirements into one platform. It used the same basic wing, landing gear, and other systems of the AD-4 but the upper half of the front half of the fuselage was widened for side-by-side seating and a compartment provided aft of the cockpit. The area of the vertical fin and rudder were increased by about 50% to eliminate the need for tail fins on the AEW version. The speed brakes on the sides of the fuselage were deleted but the large belly-mounted speed brake was retained. The main weapons pylon on each wing was also changed to shift the lug attach points forward, possibly to shift the cg forward when 2,000-lb bombs or full external tanks were loaded on this pylons. (I've also read that it was for clearance of a long store that I have yet to identify.) To minimize the weight increase, the AD-5 reverted to having no landing gear wheel doors (see The basic AD-5 was still about 600 pounds heavier than the AD-4. The prototype, a conversion of an AD-4, first flew in August 1951. For a side-view comparison, see

Although at least one AD-5S prototype was built and flown, the Navy chose to continue with production of the Grumman AF Guardian for the ASW mission and utilize the AD-5 for the missions which required additional crew and as a utility aircraft. The production variants were the AD-5N (A-1G) for night attack, AD-5W (EA-1E) for AEW, and AD-5 (A-1E) utility version which retained day-attack capability but could be readily converted for carrier onboard delivery (COD), target towing, emergency medical evacuation, etc. Fifty-four of the AD-5Ns were subsequently converted to an AD-5Q (EA-1F) dedicated to electronic warfare.



The Q had seating for two mission specialists in the cabin with a third to the right of the pilot.

AD-5Q aft compartment control/instrument panels

A Vietnam-era EA-1F

The AD-5N and AD-5W had only one crew member in the aft cabin, seated on the left side, in addition to one in the cockpit in the right seat. These are illustrations for the AD-5N.

The aft cabin of the AD-5W:
There were also a couple of boxes behind the crew seat.

For the detail of the AD-W belly aft of the radome, see

The utility AD-5 was delivered with various kits that provided for four passengers in the cabin, four stretchers, a tow target capability, etc. (the tow target and reel are in a pod on the belly of the colorfully marked AD-5).

The 1/72 Monogram kit is readily available but unfortunately, its fuselage is slightly undersized while its wing is not. These are basically out-of-the-box (except for markings) builds of the Tsukuda and Monogram kits:

There are ways to section the fuselage and somewhat correct for this. For an example, see here.

However, the good news (as of September 2016) is that there is a new 1/72 AD-5W kit from Skale Wings. See

A conversion of the somewhat rarer 1/48 Matchbox AD-5 to correct its problems has also been done, see here and here. A better and perhaps not more expensive 1/48 alternative given the availability of the Matchbox kit might be the C & H Aero Miniatures conversion kit. Darren Roberts used it to create this EA-1F.
1/72 and 1/48 resin A-1E cockpit detail kits are available from Cobra Company. One is included in the Aero Miniatures conversion.

RVHP produced relatively expensive and not widely available resin 1/72 conversion kits of all the variants, including the AD-5S, to be used with the Hasegawa AD/A-1 kit.


  1. Great article. What are the chances that I may use some of these graphics on my website? For example, I often get questions about what was in the "back end" of the A-1E. These are the first diagrams I have seen of the equipment configuration in the back. When I flew the widebody, it was just an empty space.

    Best to you, SpadGuy

  2. No problem. I'll send you higher resolution of these and some more by Dropbox.

  3. The COD version definitely reminds me of the competing Martin "Mercury" derivative of the AM-1 "Mauler". 'Twould be fascinating to see a comparison.

  4. Evan,

    Unfortunately I don't have anything on the proposed JR2M Mercury other than small inboard profiles showing a cabin in the fuselage. It would appear to be similar in volume/payload to the AD-5 COD and more convenient to load.

  5. You may be correct that the inboard wing racks were move forward for CG reasons. The same racks were used on the AD-6 and AD-7 and their fuselage were, as far I remember the same as the AD-4. Having worked as an AO on both the -4 and -5 I know that the -4 had a Mark-51 bomb rack with 14" between bomb hook. The -5 had the same rack but the rack was modified by a Aero-1A adapter which gave it 4 hooks. With these hooks the rack could carry the same stores as the -4 but with the 30" spacing between hooks provided by the adapter the rack could carry the low drag bombs and drop tanks that had their lugs spaced 30' apart.

    The brand new -5 that we had between 1956-58 had a radar operator's position on the left side of the rear compartment and a seat for a relief operator on the right side.

    Thanks for all your work
    Dave Collier

  6. I worked on both the AD-4 and the AD-5 and AD5N. The -4 had a Mr-51 bomb racks on both inboard wing stations with 14' between hooks. The -5 had the same racks but they had an Aero 1A Adapter which gave it the capability to carry low drag tanks and bomb that required 30" between bomb hooks. By moving the rack forward room was provided ahead of the flaps for longer stores. I think the -6 and -7 also had the same rack as the-5.

  7. I'm just building the RVHP/Hasegawa AD-5N and was wondering about the rear cockpit as I'd read that there were two operators in the rear even though, as commented here, initially there was only the one seat provided; RVHP only provide for one seat. Not that it matters too much to me as the rear glazing will be blue tinted like my AD-5S build, can I assume that during the operational lifetime of the 5N, there would/could have been provision for 2 operators but this was a later modification?

    1. Simon, as far as I know, there was only ever room for one seat back there in a fully equipped AD-5N. The author of what you read may have assumed that the two equipment operators were both in the cabin like they were in the fuselage of the AD-4N. Or that since there were two guys in back in the AD-5Q that applied to the AD-5N as well.

  8. OK thanks for the info. I have a lot of "space" in the kit, so I guess RVHP had no concise interior info aside from two main rear consoles. attached to the central bulkhead. I'll need to take some liberties and add rectangular boxes to give a sense of equipment overload!

  9. Great Stuff. Can anyone tell me when the AD-5W (EA-1E) with belly radar was retired by the Navy ?

    1. As best I can tell after a quick look is that the last deployment might have been with VAW-33 Det 18 on Wasp in May 1966 but almost all were ashore by the end of 1965. The last two were reportedly retired by VAW-33 at the end of 1966 (Naval Aviation News April 1967).

  10. Bob Gallagher SSgt USAF 56 SOW NKP RTAFBJuly 16, 2016 at 8:58 PM

    I was an Air Force Aircraft Electrician stationed at NKP Thailand from mid 1969 thru mid 1970.
    We had the A-1E's, G's, H's, and J's...and possibly an EA-1F as well but I'm not sure if it was used for ECW missions. We did have the EC-47's for that.
    Most of the planes were of the E, H, and J variety.
    I do remember at least 1 plane having only single controls for the pilot and none in the what would be the co-pilots position.
    The rest of the E models had dual controls.
    My question here is which of these wide planes only had one set of flight controls for the left seat.

    1. Dual controls were an option on the A-1E. All the other U.S. Navy wide-bodies had a mission-equipment operator in the right front seat and no flight controls there. If there was an EA-1F assigned (new to me but I'm no expert on the Air Force A-1s), it would not have had dual controls. I doubt very much that the Air Force was operating a G with night-attack mission equipment installed, but you might have had a former G with the mission equipment stripped out (making it an E from a configuration standpoint) and it might not have been modified to have the dual control option.