McDonnell Douglas TA-4K Skyhawk – NZ6254
RNZAF serial no. NZ6254
Manufacturer’s no. 14097
On display in the Aircraft Hall
The RNZAF purchased 10 A-4K and four TA-4K Skyhawks in 1970 from the United States. A further 10 surplus Skyhawks were procured from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1984. The Skyhawks served with No. 75 Squadron at Ohakea, and later, with No. 2 Squadron at RAN Nowra in Australia, as a multi-role aircraft capable of conducting fighter ground attack, battlefield interdiction, air-to-air and maritime strike operations. The fleet underwent an extensive upgrade in the late 1980s under ‘Project Kahu’ to improve its operational capabilities.
The Skyhawks were withdrawn from service following the disbandment of the RNZAF’s Air Combat Force in 2001. After a lengthy period in storage at Woodbourne, the majority of the surviving Skyhawk fleet was sold to Draken International in 2012, with several being reserved for museum collections in New Zealand and Australia.
NZ6254 was manufactured at the Douglas aircraft factory in California in 1969 and arrived in Auckland on board the USS Okinawa on 17 May 1970. It was one of six two-seater Skyhawks operated by the RNZAF as an advanced trainer, and spent most of its service life with No. 75 Squadron at Ohakea. NZ6254 was the first Skyhawk to fly in New Zealand skies after delivery, and was the first TA-4 to be upgraded under ‘Project Kahu’. It was also the first of two aircraft used to successfully test the new Maverick air-to-ground missile in 1989, the other being NZ6205 which is also in the Museum’s collection. NZ6254 was transferred to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in June 2011 and is displayed exactly as it was in December 2001, when the fleet was withdrawn from service.
The Museum has eight other A-4K Skyhawks, two of which are on site at Wigram (‘NZ6205’ and ‘NZ607’), and the remaining six are on loan to other institutions around New Zealand: