Douglas F4D "Skyray"
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Bruce H Handy, e-mail, 14.06.2024 20:51

Keef, I served with you in VMF (AW)314 at El Toro when 314 was being re-formed then on to Atsugi in 1960. I still have my copy of The Knights Tale.
I also was a Plane Caption. It's been many year ago, some of the best years with great guys to serve with.
If possible please email,
L/Cpl. Handy

James S Hughes, e-mail, 18.03.2016 21:27

My e mail address from the post below is

James S Hughes, e-mail, 18.03.2016 20:59

The post from Michael A Gianetti Jr 24.02.2013 was very interesting to me. I was a plane captain in VMF(AW)114 at Cherry Point flying F4D's from Sept 1958 to Oct 1960 including a Med cruise in 1959. I hade a very good friend David R Grayce which you mentioned in your post also a plane captain who I very much would like to hear from or receive any information from anyone- buy the way the F4D's was a great plane -Thanks

Patrick W. Keef, e-mail, 31.12.2015 21:58

Remembering LTCOL Dewey F. Durnford. He was our 1st executive officer of the newly formed squadron VMF(AW)314 Sept 1959 at MCAS EL Toro. He was a great pilot and a good officer. The troops all liked him.
He served in World War II shooting down several of the enemy's aircraft. On one occasion while shooting down a betty bomber it dropped a "Baka Bomb" which he also shot down saying in the process "Look it just had a baby". Told to the flight line crew by Col Durnford beforn he went out for a hop. He was later transfered to VMF(AW)513 as the new skipper of that squadron. Semper FI.

Patrick W. keef, e-mail, 31.12.2015 20:28

Was a plane captain on the F4D skyray from 1959 at El Toro air station to 1961 at Atsugi Japan. Served with a great bunch of guys in VMF(AW)314 The Black Knights.

Bob Crowley, e-mail, 13.12.2015 00:07

In answer to Mike West. There was no missile tray.Our Skyrays had an external centerline midship pylon

Bob Crowley, e-mail, 12.12.2015 23:27

1962 stationed at NAS North Island Utility Squadron 3 as an AMS 3.In our mix we had 8 F4D Skyrays The Pilots loved the power as soon as they where over the water past Point Loma hit after burner and go vertical.San Clementie Island was a Fleet gun& bomb range, we had landing strip there and also serviced the island .We would watch the F4DS do 20mm gun runs. It was a unique Squadron we had many roles to fill and a mix of aircraft to accomplish the work required.In addition the Skyrays we had as follows........
.4 F9fS......1 R3D.......1 R5D.....We worked on the DASH Helo.....I. We also had 4 P2V Neptunes ( 2 burnin 2 turnin ). On the P2 wing pylons we would hang recip or jet powered target drones for Fleet target practice.We would fly the drone in from the P2. With diversity of the Squadron we would be rotated in for aircrew flight hours. From Utility Squadron 3, orders to VF-33 NAS Oceana Va. F8E Crusaders to F4B Phantoms....CVW-6.....CVA-66 USS AMERICA............I was in Utility Squadron 3 from 11/62 to 10/64....Can not get any info on the Squadron.......Any one who was in the Squadron or has some info please e-mail me, be great to hear from you!!

Mike West, e-mail, 20.11.2015 21:34

In 1957 my family lived in "Quarters N," NAS North Island. The house 40 yards (tops!) from the runway. Even as a 3rd grader, used to love watching the Fords (and every other Navy plane) taxi by getting ready for takeoff. QUESTION: Did F4Ds have a drop-down missile tray in the fuselage? Seems to me they did, but I can find no mention of it in the literature. Thanks!

Edward Lee, e-mail, 19.01.2015 12:37

I was in VF23 stationed at Moffett Field, California, one of the first fighter squadrons to receive these aircraft into service in 1956. The "Ford Drivers" (pilots) in our squadron love the birds, but we had them a little more than a year and the whole fleet was transferred to a Marine Squadron.

Wayne Kitzerow, e-mail, 02.11.2014 03:47

I was a plane captain and mechanic on the F4D with VMF 513 from Nov. 1958 until Nov. 1960. It was a fine a/c with not that many problems. We were the first ones the pilots would talk to after a hop, so we knew if there were problems.

Dudley Gillaspy, e-mail, 10.07.2014 17:17

I flew the "Fords" w/ NavReserve @ NAS Olathe Ks,'63-'64; Not a good A/C for the Reserves., many maint and supply problems,poor 'availability', but really an impressive to fly..Great performance,tough getting much good flight time. Transitioned to A4's in '65 and problem solved.

Warren Jackson, e-mail, 13.03.2014 18:55

I was an AQF2 in VF101, both at Cecil Field when it was a stand-alone squadron, and later when we moved to NAS Key West, merged with VF 38 and became FAWTULANT. As I remember, when we first got F4Ds, they killed about a pilot every two months or so (uaually the young dumb ones) for the first year.

I do not remember them being too maintenance heavy for anyone. After a while, the pilots finally figured them out and were pretty happy with them.

Their real claim to fame was that they were really a pocket rocket, climbing from a standing start at a (for the time) record breaking rate. They had more thrust than they weighed.

Ralph Koslin, e-mail, 24.02.2014 07:23

I am trying to find an 'old' original VF-21, VF-23, VF-141, VF-162, VMF-AW-115, and or VMF-AW-314 patch.

I am also looking for any old USNR and USMCR Squadron patches from NAS Olathe KS VF-881, VF-882 / VMF-113, VMF-215.

If you have only one patch, I would be happy to reproduce the patch + send a new hard-cover book on the Skyray. An embroidery shop with a loom, can spin an EXACT reproduction of the patch - same size, design, and colors. I would like to keep the original patch for my collection.

I would be happy to send the hard-cover Ford book up front for an old patch.
Please kindly look at your leisure. Thanks for your interest.

Jeff, e-mail, 21.01.2014 06:46

Does anyone know where I can get a squadron patch vfaw-3 north Island F4 D skyray? Thanks

Ernie Eaglin, e-mail, 13.08.2013 03:55

I was an AE 3 for VFAW-3 in 1958-59 . I loved this a/c and found it to be very easy to service.

Michael A. Gianetti Jr, e-mail, 24.02.2013 02:53

I was a Plane Captain VMF, VMF(AW). VMFA-115 on the beloved Ford.
Then we picked up the Phantoms, F4B if memory serves.
I remember SSGT Miiliron (sp) and am still in conrtact with MGYSGT Art Larsen and MGYSGT David Grayce.
Made a Med, came back, went to Cuba.
Today, 2/23/13 is the 68th anniversary of the raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima. God Bless America and the United States Marine Corps.
Semper Fi,

Michael A. Gianetti Jr, e-mail, 24.02.2013 02:51

I was a Plane Captain VMF, VMF(AW). VMFA-115 on the beloved Ford.
Then we picked up the Phantoms, F4B if memory serves.
I remember SSGT Miiliron (sp) and am still in conrtact with MGYSGT Art Larsen and MGYSGT David Grayce.
Made a Med, came back, went to Cuba.
Today, 2/23/13 is the 68th anniversary of the raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima. God Bless America and the United States Marine Corps.
Semper Fi,

Frank Grant, e-mail, 16.02.2013 20:54

I flew the F4D-1 in 1958 and 1959 while attached to VMF(AW)314 at MCAS El Toro, California, Atsugi, Japan and Ping Tung, Formosa. I have only great things to say about the "Ford". It was a "fun aircraft" to fly.

Jim, e-mail, 11.11.2012 20:59

If you watch close there is at least one instance of a Ford launching off of a carrier during the Cuban Missile Crisis Blockade, in a documentary I have see a couple of times on Public Television.

Jim, e-mail, 11.11.2012 20:55

I checked in to H&MS-11, MAG-11, Avionics in Aug. '61. The OIC there, a Field Commissioned 1st Lt (Korea) Asked where i came from. I said El Toro, Mag-15 Q-50 shop, Sir. He smiled and said something to the effect. Do we ever need you. Go see S/Sgt??? at the other end of the building... What I didn't tell him was at El Toro my NCOIC put me, the kid just out of A school in a little supply closet. Where I never got to work on the gear... It turned out there was a ton of black boxes/pallets off the Q-50 that were down. So many so all the reserves were used up and many aircraft on the flight line from those two squadrons who didn't have radar... I and a Sgt who just got there also who didn't know the Q-50 really. I knew basics but that was it, other than being class honorman a year and a half earlier. We divided up th separate sections of the radar, got out the Service Manual for the gear. Worked nights and weekends and started RFI'ing that gear. As soon as a piece was RFI-ed. The Front bench would call one of the squadrons and they would be right down with an exchange and we just kept going. Within a month we had every thing caught up and all the extra stock sections RFI and we just had the daily repairs. And field changes to do. I loved every minute of it!!! Got P2 Pay for it too :)

RC, Sheffield UK, e-mail, 03.08.2012 11:29

This looks very much like a Vulcan prototype I saw once.

Mac Bowers, e-mail, 30.07.2012 19:03

From July 59 untill July 62 I was an E5 AM in VF-13 at Nas Cecil Field Fla. While deployed on both the Essex (CVA-9 and the Shangri-La (CVA-38 we had the F4Ds and lost two Pilots. LT David Ayers and LTJG James Hannon. I was sent to Flight Control school at the old NARF in Jacksonville. I recall having to rig flight controls on a very regular basis due to the hard landings. The ELEVON system had tandem cylinders in the wing butts that incorporated a .3000IN. dead spot for the neutral position. I found it a very interesting Aircraft to maintain due to it's flight controls for example,1 no elevator or ailerons these were incorporated into the ELEVONS. 2. no flaps but did have a surface called Pitch Trimmer. My first Co was CDR Norm Berree(now deceased) All the Pilots were very good at flying the aircraft which had to be more difficult than others due to it's unusual design.

J. D. Bible, e-mail, 16.07.2012 23:04

I flew the F4D-1 in several USMC squadrons, VMF(AW)-314, 513 & 542 and did an overseas tour in WESTPAC in VMF(AW)-314. Loved it!! The "FORD" was not the fastest aircraft in the sky, the F-8 and the USAF F-101 were definitely faster, but they were not nearly as agile. We were transonic and they had speed advantage. However,we always ended up on their tails if they didn't runaway from us. But considering what was available at the time, it was a very enjoyable fighter to fly!

Looking back, the F4D was occasionally grounded for improvements\\maintenance issues, so we got flight time in the F3D, AD, F9F, or whatever was available. Interesting times.

Greg Hall, e-mail, 24.05.2012 03:39

My Father, Don Lawler Hall flew this aircraft and competed in the 1959 Naval Weapons Meet in Yuma and was the champion. I have an acrylic encased display commemorating it with a model of the F4D Skyray (that use to be his), patches of his squadron and the meet, a photo, and the plack that he received as champion.

Bud Frazier, e-mail, 01.05.2012 02:17

Had the pleasure of doing flight test during the mid 50's at LAX on the F4D and the F5D proto model.Great aircraft.

bombardier, e-mail, 02.09.2011 11:24

That plane was so unstable.Only the best pilots could fly the thing.However it had a tremendous climb rate.

Ernie Hiscox, e-mail, 16.03.2011 22:30

My other relationship to the F4D was teaching maintenance on the APQ-50 fire control radar at FAETUPAC. One of my students worked the F4D trainer at the other end of North Island and gave me a flight. I landed several feet below the runway damaging my ego and nothing else.

Ernie Hiscox, e-mail, 16.03.2011 22:11

I was TDY with VA 126 at El Centro, and I had the mid line watch. Only three A/C to monitor so I was glad when some F4Ds started doing touch and goes. landing on dual runways meant three rows of lights on one side and only one on the other. Not symmetrical at all. I was wondering what it would look like to have two sets of lights on both sides of the landing A/C. Apparently, one pilot was reading my thoughts or having a similar day dream. He was dead center between the lights. I realized he was landing in the sand, and I started the jeep to at least get some light on the scene. We were synchronized. He hit the afterburner as I hit my ignition. Could that A/C climb. A few months later there was an Anon Y Mouse report of the incident in the NAVAIR magazine. Wonder if the pilot is still around.

C.J.Weins, e-mail, 12.03.2011 02:02

Was with VMF(AW) 513 from 1961 to 1962 as the S-2 chief.We
had lost one pilot on a night sortie, flying the F4D's out of NAS Atsugi. Also we had one of our pilots 1stLt W.Olson assist a fellow pilot from MACS-6 flying a cougar jet who lost all radio/nav equip and had guided him to a safe landing. All in all the Sgn pilots felt the Skyray was the sports car they always wanted. Semper Fi

Jimmye L. Jones, e-mail, 08.03.2011 19:08

I was an ordnance man with 115 at cherry point. I love to work on this airplane. However I a was happy tp see the f4b phantoms.

Wilber Rea, e-mail, 14.02.2011 21:51

Guys I shore don't know what aircraft You are talking about.
I served with Mars 37 at El Toro 55 to 57. We always had one of the sob's in our hanger. One of them put me in the hospital for five days with a leg injury. I was also disappointed to see one of them go down and kill it's squadrons CO.
The gages said that the fuel had been transfered to the main tank, it had NOT. The gages and the pump did not work.
The fuselage stayed intact except it parted just behind the cockpit and killed the pilot. The title Ford was widely used as a swear word and meant FIX OR REPAIR DAILY and did not mean stability.grumps

Walt Bjorneby, e-mail, 05.02.2011 08:35

Used to dogfight the Reserve Fords out of NAS Olathe KS. We had F102s at Richards-Gebaur AFB MO. Deuce was faster and could outturn the Fords especially above 35,000, and fly higher, too; it had more wing area. Had a Deuce at 59,000 once on a test hop.

jim mcgechie, e-mail, 07.01.2011 02:41

served with jg brickner vf-102 How cn I contack him? I was his plane captian at one time on a F-4D,

Gary Gebo, e-mail, 09.12.2010 07:02

I flew the Ford In 1961 to1962. Had a cruise on the Independence the summer of 1962. A great performing aircraft! Nothing could out turn you, and nothing could out climb you! A truly great experience.

l, e-mail, 13.11.2010 02:12

Remember working at Douglas/Long Beach 1950's and riveting front leading edge of the wings. Very compact work.

Don McDonald, e-mail, 29.10.2010 23:06

I deployed with VMF-115 as a radar/guided missile technician to NAS Atsugi, Japan in Jan, 1958. We and our F4Ds relieved VMF-513 and their older F3Ds. About Sep,1958 the entire MAG was sent to Ping Tung, Formosa. While there, we flew CAP flights protecting the Nationalist Chinese transports re-supplying Quemoy and Matsu islands just off the Chinese mainland. We returned to Atsugi about Mar 1959 then on to the US in Apr or May, 1959.
Upon returning to the US, I was assigned to VMF-513, by then equipped with F4Ds, and participated in the Naval Weapons Meet in Yuma, AZ in Dec 1959.
Several other postings cover the same units and period of time but I don't recognize any of the names. It was still great to read the postings that stirred the memories.

Howard Nickerson, e-mail, 25.10.2010 00:52

Flew the F4D in VF(AW)-3 in 1958.

Don Safer, e-mail, 17.10.2010 22:51

I went to San Diego boot camp across the bay from North Island NAS September to December 1962. At night durring the first week or two we would hear this huge roar from across the bay and witness a tongue of flame leaping into the sky. We figured they were some sort of rockets. Then we heard it durring daylight and realized they were Skyrays going nearly verticle on afterburner after leaving the runway. I found out latter they were part of the air defense system. The Airforce had the duty around the rest of the country, probably with F-106s, but the Skyray, with it's very fast climb rate, had the duty for the SW corner of the country.
By the time I was stationed at North Island with VAW-11 in February of '64, they were gone.

John Melvin, e-mail, 22.09.2010 08:26

A question for all: When the main gear retracts which way does it lay in the wing. Is the strut on top or the wheel on top?

Jim Campbell, e-mail, 21.09.2010 04:26

For those interested there is a newly released book titled "Killer Rays" written by Mark Frankel that can be ordered from Specialty Press at 800-895-4585. The book briefly covers all delta winged aircraft but is primarily on the F4D Skyray.

Jim Campbell, e-mail, 21.09.2010 04:25

For those interested there is a newly released book titled "Killer Rays" written by Mark Frankel that can be ordered from Specialty Press at 800-895-4585. The book briefly covers all delta winged aircraft but is primarily on the F4D Skyray.

Bob KNOTTS, PHCM, e-mail, 29.08.2010 02:21

We had a Marine F4D squadron "visiting" us at NAS Atsugi in 57 or 58. (VMF-451?)A marine mech accidently put his ac into afterburner during a turn up. It jumped the chocks, and started another F4D on fire. We lost two for the price of one. But I don't think anyone was injured.

ROBERT F GAGNE, e-mail, 04.03.2010 19:08


Bruce Wadleigh, e-mail, 31.01.2010 20:42

I was in VMF(AW)513 in 1960 thru 1962 under the command of Lt Col Dewey Durnford. The Skyray was our bird and a fine bird it was. I worked on all of the avionics systems on land and at sea on aircraft carriers both CONUS and FMFPAC.
I miss those days a lot. Semper Fi !!!

John Brickner, e-mail, 31.01.2010 05:28

Loved the "FORD"! A little Hot Rod! Really impressed the ladies with those high performance after-burner sunset take-offs at Oceana. Can't do that anymore. It was a ZIP for a young Ensign to outturn the poor Crusader in ACM. I flew off the Forrestal, VF-102 Diamonbacks '59/'60. I shudder when I remember that dark hole for night traps---no moon glows then, but the Ford always came thru for me.
One night in Key West, I took her to 50k and pointed her straight down to see just how fast she would go. Got to 1.25 Mach, pulled out by 10K.
Then there was the "tranducer". It never worked. At transonic speeds you could wipe out the cockpit with the stick and nothin' happened. Or it might tuck at Mach 1, so you pushed and pulled riding the 'bronco' until you slowed down. Spent the next 15 years with the new F-4. John B

Lawrence Bailey, e-mail, 14.01.2010 00:46

I flew the Ford in '57-58 in VFAW-3, checking out new pilots in the last months of my tour. It was a handful, especially before the TTC (Transonic Trim Changer) arrived; but the most fun you could have outside of bed. Angle of attack and the gage that displayed it were new concepts in the Ford and several 'old timers' were sceptical, believing that airspeed was the only Holy Grail of flying. Aircraft design was going foreward at a great pace in the '50's. Connical camber, a knife edge windshield, the new G.E. J-79 eng and the area rule would make the F4D-1 obsolete by the '60's. But is was so pretty and perhaps one of the most manuverable aircraft ever made, (560 degrees rate of roll if I recall). For an instant in time she was a trail blazer.

Philip Witmer, e-mail, 05.01.2010 22:13

My father flew the F4D in 1955 as the CO of VF101 in Key West, Fl and later in Jacksonville, FL. The squadron was carrier qualified while there. It is my understanding that this was the first operational supersonic squadron in the Navy.

Doug Mount, e-mail, 30.12.2009 03:04

I was a plane captain on the F4D Skyray in CAG-21 VF-213 at NAS Moffet Field CA. 1957 & 1958 It was a good plane to work on,low maintence.

Wayne Wallace, e-mail, 27.09.2009 20:29

Personnel man VF-23 Commander C. A. Knight ex Blue Angel, our squadron Commander. He taught our pilots the art of flying. Example when we were in Fallon Nevada. 15 aircraft all took to the air. One of my jobs was to get the Marine detachment there to be out on the field to watch a fly by of our aircraft. It was not a fly-by, it was 15 aircraft coming from every direction to the center of the field, and at a given time they all hit after burner and disappeared into the sky. Seconds later they came by in the fly-by that was promised. Will never forget it! Also, one of our pilots bailed out below 5,000 feet from the F-4 in the Bay Area of SF. The first one to do so.

Bob Hazlett, e-mail, 18.09.2008 23:22

I was an Air Force exchange pilot attached to VF141, the Iron Angles. I flew the F4D, "Ford" in 1957 and 1958. I deployed to the Pacific on the Bonne Homme Richard for six months in 1957.

Bruce Martin, e-mail, 14.07.2008 05:29

I flew the F4D in my first squadron after completing flight training in 1958. We operated out of Cherry point NC, and in the spring of 1959 moved the squadron to Atsugi Japan where we picked up an air defense commitment with the 41st Air Division out of Yokota AFB. We flew day and night intercepts usually against Russian Bears and Bison aircraft that would come down from Siberia. The F4D had a fine radar, the APQ-50, that could pick up targets well over 100 miles away. Climb capability was another strong point with the aircraft. We also operated out of Cubi Point in the Philippines, Ping Tung North in Taiwan and twice aboard ship. Shipboard ops were pretty straight forward although the aircraft had a slight yaw, (Dutch Roll), tendency on final approach that looked much worse from the LSO platform than it did from the cockpit. I thought it was a very good aircraft to fly, especially without drop tanks.

Art McMahon, e-mail, 11.07.2008 21:48

I was attached to the Provost Marshalls Office (MP) at Ping Tung, Formosa in 1958. It was always a thrill, as I was posting the guard on the flight line, to watch the pilots send these planes skyward. The real thrill was to listen to the Chinese National pilots who flew the F-86 Sabre Jet----now that's "another story".

george perry, e-mail, 31.05.2008 15:57

I flew the F4D SkyRay from late 1959 until 1962 with VMF(AW)114 and VMF(AW)531, the plane was great though it's mission was too defined and didn't leave room for many applications. I accumulated almost a 1000 hours in the plane and enjoyed them all.

Charles Delavan, e-mail, 14.05.2008 05:22

I was in Design Engineering on this air;lane most of the timefrom early preliminary design until production phase out. I understand that the XF$D took two Sorld speed records and the F$D-!dmonstrated its capbility of taking other world performance records. The Nav would not allow it to be made official until the end of it's active service.

Jaime Alexander, e-mail, 13.05.2008 05:39

Flew it with VFAW3 in '58-'59. Mission was Air Defense for NORAD. It replaced the F3D for us in that mission and was a huge increase in performance. The handwriting was on the wall though as many designs incorporating better transonic and supersonic performance were appearing in service. It will go higher than the "ceiling" of 55000.

bigredlancer, e-mail, 03.05.2008 00:32

USS Intrepid still had VF-74 "Be-Devilers' F4D-1s on the 60-61 Med Cruise...
VFP-62 Det 33-60 F8U-1Ps USS Intrepid CVA-11

Jim Campbell, e-mail, 28.04.2008 02:55

I flew Fords from March 1958 to December 1960 with VMF (aw)-314 and 513. I really enjoyed the aircraft and never had any problems in flying it. It was a fun bird and I was sad to see it go though it's mission had been largely overtaken by newer designs.

Jim Bassett, e-mail, 02.04.2008 00:24

The F4D was gone from 1st line Navy squadrons by the end of the 50's. replaced by F8U crusaders and F3H Demons.A few were around in test and other units.

oren yehuda, e-mail, 03.05.2007 20:17

what will be the main diferents between the skyray and the skylancer

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