Kiwi A-4 Skyhawks were the only aerobatic team in the world to perform plugged-in barrel rolls.
Filmed in the early 80’ the cool video in this post features Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) A-4K Skyhawk fighter bombers performing a plugged-in barrel roll during an air show.
As Jason Boyle and Cribble Gribble told to The Aviation Geek Club, the featured image in this post instead shows “75 Sqn A4-K and TA-4K taken in the early 80’s as our Skyhawks are still painted in their south east Asia camouflage. It’s taken over the South Island of New Zealand during an air show or air show practice where they performed a plugged barrel roll.
“Noteworthy if you observe the tanker is carrying 2 empty practised multiple bomb tracks (PMBR).IIRC, these were never carried empty from go i.e. the aeroplane had dropped some practise bombs earlier in the sortie.”
These aircraft were the only aerobatic team in the world to perform plugged-in barrel rolls.
In 1970, 10 A-4K single-seat aircraft and 4 TA-4K were delivered to the RNZAF, joining 75 Squadron. These were joined by 8 A-4G Skyhawk and 2 TA-4Gs from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1984, which allowed a second Skyhawk-equipped squadron, 2 Squadron, to form.
In 1986, Project Kahu was launched to upgrade New Zealand’s Skyhawks with new avionics, including an AN/APG-66NZ radar based on that used by the F-16, and weapons, as a lower-cost alternative to buying new replacements. All 10 ex-RAN and the 12 surviving original RNZAF aircraft were converted to the A-4K Kahu standard.
In 2001 the three Air Combat Force squadrons (Nos 2, 14, and 75) were disbanded and the Skyhawks put into storage awaiting sale. They were maintained, with occasional servicing flights, and then moved to RNZAF Base Woodbourne, where they were preserved in protective latex.
Draken International signed an agreement with the New Zealand government in 2012 to purchase eight A-4Ks and associated equipment for its adversary training services. Six were former RAN A-4G airframes which as carrier aircraft had logged significantly fewer flying hours. These were subsequently relocated to the U.S. at Draken’s Lakeland Linder International Airport facility in Lakeland, Florida. The other A-4K aircraft were given to museums in New Zealand and Australia.
Photo credit: Royal New Zealand Air Force