There is much confusion surrounding the various "modifications" made to many A-4E and A-4F Skyhawks for the purpose of use as "Aggressor" aircraft; and for use by the Blue Angel Flight Demonstration Team.
Technical Facts and Comments from Gary Verver:
Usually when I see the term "Super Fox" it's in quotes and used to refer to the stripped down and souped up F's used by the Blue Angels.
As far as I know the following changes were made at Long Beach to the Blue Angels A-4F's:
- removed the avionics hump
- removed the ECM etc. antennas
- added a brake chute
- slats were bolted shut
- removed the 20mm guns and the port gun fairing was extended to accommodate the fold-in boarding ladder
- smoke generating tank and tube was added
- the flare launchers were removed and or faired over (aft fuselage under the speed brakes)
- the wing ord. pylons #1, #2, #4 & #5 were removed (the centerline station was retained)
- inverted fuel system was added
I've seen claims that the Blue Angels F's used a Pratt & Whitney J52-P408 and others that claim a J52-480 was used. One thing that I've seen that is attributed to a Blue Angel is the quote from Vice-Adm. Anthony A. Less, CO of the Blue Angels 1974-1975 (Cdr. at the time) "... the Super F's were slicked by removing the two outboard racks on each wing. We kept the centerline for cross-country flights. With the P-408 , we had a lot of power available. The Foxtrot's empty weight was about 11,300lb and we were at a near 1:1 thrust to weight ratio without fuel..." This from Brad Elward's (author of McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk) interview with Vice Adm. Less 5 Oct 1999.
I've also seen claims that the intakes were enlarged. The initial Blue Angels A-4F compliment came from VX-5 at China Lake and the intakes don't look any different to me after the Skyhawks were modified for use by the Blue Angels.
[Note from LCDR Steve Easton, Blues Maintenance CPO 1979-81, states that "the engines were definitely J52-P408, and the intakes were definitely enlarged as part of the modification kit."]
As far as the TA-4J is concerned the only change that I know of is the paint scheme and addition of the ladder tube which can be seen in this head on photo taken by Blues Photo Mate Paul O'Mara. It was taken from the boomer compartment of an USAF KC-10, which had taken the team from PKA to Bermuda for an air-show. Time was 1983 on a flight near Bermuda. #7 pilot was Curt "Griz" Watson. Rear seater was a Douglas employee. Photo is from the Harry Gann collection, and gives a good look at the ladder tube.
The Blue Angels also flew an all white TA-4J, BuNo 153477, during their 1981 winter training. It looked pretty standard and did not have the ladder tube in the photo I've seen. Gary Verver 04 JUN 2003
Gary "Zoo" Rezeau helps set the record straight.