• Review: Douglas A-4 Skyhawk By Virtavia

    Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
    Publisher: Virtavia
    Review Author:
    Raymond Andersen
    Suggested Price:
    Buy Here

    The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a single seat, one engine ground attack fighter and adversary aircraft built by Douglas Aircraft Company (later McDonnell Douglas). It was designed for the US Navy with capability to land and take-off from carriers, and with the possibility to deliver nuclear weapons on enemy targets. It was the replacement of the Douglas AD (A-1) Skyraider.

    The original A-4 flew its first flight back in 1954 and started service in 1956. The Skyhawks played key roles in wars such as the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War and the Falklands War, and now after more than 50 years, the aircraft is still in active service for non-US users but has been retired from the US Navy since 2003.


    • Produced by Douglas Aircraft Company
    • First flight 1954 (org. A-4)
    • Introduction 1956 (org. A-4)
    • Role: ground-attack, fighter and aggressor
    • Status: US Navy retired
    • Primary User: US Navy
    • Built: 2900+
    • Unit Cost: US$ 860,000 (first 500)

    I received this add-on aircraft directly from Virtavia and after the download had completed I started the installation process which is very user friendly. All that needs to be done is to activate the installation wizard and that will take care of the rest.

    The installation did not take more than half a minute or so, and when completed I opened up my FSX folders to verify that the installation process had completed successfully. Of course it had and I found the A-4 files perfectly placed in my FSX SimObjects Aircraft library.


    Hereafter I opened up my FSX and went into my virtual hangar. I found the Skyhawk perfectly placed together with other add-on aircraft that I have from Virtavia. I quickly discovered that this add-on actually consists of several versions such as the E and F model and also included are various liveries to make it perfect. One thing was a superb surprise and that was the liveries of the Skyhawk used in the movie Top Gun as the adversary aircraft flown by Tom Skerritt - nick name Jester. This was a very nice surprise because I often link this aircraft to that specific movie and now I suddenly had the opportunity to actually fly the aggressor aircraft - Cool!

    The base models used are the A-4E and A-4F together with sub-variants and in regards to liveries you have both USN, USMC, two versions of the adversary, a Blue Angels and the RAN. The package also includes several different loadouts as bomb, missile and tank versions and to spice this all up to the next level, Virtavia have actually created tailored flight dynamics for 22 specific loadouts. The various loadouts can be toggled off using the "Jettison" switch in the cockpit to simulate weapons used when returning back to base. E.g. the rocket pods will still appear but with the nose cone gone and the rocket absent. This is really impressive and now the simmer has the opportunity to actually feel the difference of flying a clean aircraft compared to e.g. a fully loaded aircraft with heavy bombs and fuel tanks.


    Together with this add-on aircraft is also included a 44-page manual which is very well written and to get the most out flying and understanding the Skyhawk, I would of course suggest to read or skim the manual. There are quite a few tips and descriptions that I found useful as e.g. how to get the APG-53A Radar to work. Virtavia have created a fully working APG-53A Radar with multiple modes and functions which is a really good feature.

    1. normac's Avatar
      normac -
      A very useful review of a sim-aircraft I was unaware of. Time to visit Virtavia!
    1. ftldave's Avatar
      ftldave -
      "A 2D panel is not included but I don't think that simmers would need it anyway since this virtual cockpit is so very well made."

      An informative review, but an incorrect assumption towards those of us who prefer flying with 2D panels. I appreciate Raymond letting us know that one isn't included. I don't particularly enjoy "flying a camera" in a VC.
    1. EVVTSA's Avatar
      EVVTSA -
      Tom Skerritt's character in the movie was actually Viper. Michael Ironside played Jester.
    1. hangar32's Avatar
      hangar32 -
      Good review! Liked all the screen shots Really well done and gave me a good sense of he strengths of this product. That said, not sure I like the big Pilot Shop "BUY" at the top of the review. Whatever happened to the Armchair Aviator rankings? Guess the Pilot Shop supports the web page . . . still.
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      The large "buy" button was added after we got a number of comments in these comments sections from people who, after reading a review, could not figure out where to buy the products. We're just trying to make information easier to find and responding to reader's needs.

      The "Armchair Aviator" awards where done solely by Andrew Herd, who has not done any reviews for some years now.
    1. hangar32's Avatar
      hangar32 -
      Nels - Thanks - I misunderstood the "BUY" as its "rating" or "award"- makes all the sense in the world now that you explain it - certainly no mystery on where to go to buy it - And also explains why I haven't seen an Armchair Aviator award in a while . . . and here I thought we just hadn't seen something that warranted it. Again - good review - really liked all the screen shots, especially the cockpit shots, after all, that's where one spends the most of ones time with a sim.

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