McDonnell-Douglas T-45A 'Goshawk'

Notes: LOW-WING jet trainer for carrier landing training (2 CREW) .

  Base model:T-45
  Designation System:U.S. Air Force
  Designation Period:1948-Present
  Basic role:Trainer

Not Yet Available

Operators (Past and Present)
USN VT-21 Kingsville TX

Known serial numbers
162787 / 162788, 162789 / 162790, 163599 / 163658, 165057 / 165092


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06/23/2012 @ 15:44 [ref: 61451]
 Portland, OR
Back in the late 1980s they were having trouble getting this bird to work as a trainer. Plus a new T45 cost as much as a new F18!!!

Yet another example of the Navy's inability to run aircraft development/procurement projects. (A-6F, A-12 as most notable examples)

I had discussed with Adm. Dunleavy back in 1988 that the Navy ought to just pull A-4s from the boneyard, use some single-seaters in the Advanced Jet pipeline since there are plenty of lead and solo flights in the syllabus to justify single-seaters, convert OA-4s to TA-4s, and finally convert mothballed A-4D/Es or A-4Ms to two-seaters. The entire Training Command would have completed the full conversion 10 years earlier and at the cost of less than a full squadron of T45s.

The idea was also to use the engine upgrade (basically a F18 motor w/o AB) and avionics they used in Singapore to build some truly kick-ass A4 Skyhawks. Remember even the mild-engined TA-4J can whip the T-45 in any performance category.

So what was wrong with the Goshawk itself?

Did I say it cost the same as a Hornet?

Well, the original Hawk had a belly speed brake and this version had side-mounted speed brakes. Not only did they disrupt airflow on the elevators, but deploying them put an un-trimmed 45-pound force onto the control stick. Real fun in formation flying or on a missed approach in the goo.

Then the canopy...When the Navy decided they were going to have girl pilots, come Hell or high water, they ignored the strength, size, height and weight standards that had been in place for men since WWII to insure that pilots were not only fit to fly, but also that they could fit properly in the planes, deal with the forces required under "G" load, and ultimately to survive if shot down, the T45 wasn't ready for 0-5th percentile bodies. The smaller girls couldn't open the canopy when it was simply manually tilted and latched, so it was re-engineered at a cost of several million dollars.

Ejection seat? Same issue. The forces were deemed too high for a 90lb pilot (remember that a 220lb man was the max a T2 seat could safely eject at 75kts on the ground and the Navy flew 300-pounders like VT-19 Skipper Dave Tyson despite the limits) so they did even more expensive re-engineering to allow tiny pilots.

Engine? It's a pig. While the top speed is slightly higher than a T-2C Buckeye, the T-2C will beat the T45 in acceleration every time. The TA-4J really blows it away. They did tune up the engine a bit, but that was due to the spool-up time being so slow the thing was dangerous at the boat. Back-side of the curve in a split-second if you got slow. CQ studs would have gone from more bolters than traps to more ramp strikes than traps.

Airframe? Making a lightweight land-based aircraft into a carrier-capable one isn't easy. It added a lot of weight, which affected the already mild performance of this jet, and it brought in weight and balance issues which made carrier ops even worse.

Transition to the Fleet? The T-45 was supposed to make it easier for studs to transition to "modern" fleet jets. The first T45s didn't have glass cockpits, so that was a lame argument. Because of the weak engine, it's still a weak sister when it comes to ACM; the performance void between T45 and F18 being much wider than TA-4J to F-18. And plenty of "old dogs" who flew A4, A6, A7, and F14 all managed to transition effectively to the Hornets even if they didn't grow up playing Nintendo. Pretty pictures in the cockpit are cool, but you need to learn to AVIATE first, and that's still connected to the seat of your pants regardless of the plane you fly.

Yes, ignoring aircraft costs, it was more expensive to run the program with T-2Cs for Intermediate Jets and TA-4Js for advanced jets. Yes, a kid straight out of T-34Cs would have a tough time handling the current TA-4J Skyhawk, but with the T-6 JPATS at Primary instead, an updated TA-4 would have been a much better jet trainer because it was a real, solid, fast, capable combat aircraft in the first place, just used as a trainer. Frankly, it is so capable that other than the deployability on amphib ships, the A-4M was every bit the equal of a daytime bomber as the AV-8B. As a fighter, the Singapore A-4S beat Tomcats in 1v1 and 2v2 ACM several times. A pilot with 100 hours in the A4 could fly the T45 no problem, but a pilot with 100 hours in the T45 couldn't fly the A4. It's a manly jet that makes you a better pilot.

Finally, by phasing out the T2-C, students are now denied a true OCF syllabus. Yes, the Navy spun the T-2C. Intermediate students did spin and OCF flights before first solo and before Air-to-air gunnery solo, and advanced students came back for an INVERTED Spin hop before TA-4J ACM solos. Even NTPS at Pax River used them for this. Sure, they spun the T-35 but they only lost about 500ft per turn. The T-2C came down at 18,000-24,000FPM! You didn't want to spin the A-4s, but you were prepared and could at least recognize being out of control. The T45 is now used in intermediate jets and you can't spin it either.

Bottom line is that the Light Attack Mafia did it again. They owed the Brits for McD-D building the AV-8B in St Louis, so they paid BAE for the Hawk and sold it as a path to train Hornet pilots. Further, this gold-plated program helped them screw Grumman out of the aircraft business, as the LAM hated Tomcats as competitors to the Hornet, and both McD-D and the LAM were fighting the Grumman A6-F and thus stayed busy blowing sunshine up everybody's asses with the A-12 debacle, knowing damn well it would never fly.

The result? We have a cute but wimpy trainer that cost so much the US Navy had to completely abandon the Medium Attack/Deep Strike mission to pay for it.

But the Light Attack Mafia got more hornets...
06/02/2009 @ 04:21 [ref: 24214]
 Guy E. Franklin
 Deatsville, AL
Contractor Boeing [McDonnell Douglas] - prime
British Aerospace (airframe)
Rolls-Royce (engine)
Wing span 30 feet 8 inches
Length 38 feet 9 inches
Height 13 feet 1 inch
Max grossweight 13,000 pounds (5,897 kg) approx.
Internal fuel capacity 2,893 pounds (1,312 kg)
Powerplant Rolls-Royce F405.RR-401 Adour Mk. 871
5,845 pounds (26.0 kN) Thrust
Speed maximum: 560 knots
0.85 Mach Max level flight speed
Ceiling 50,000 feet
Range maximum: 1,400 nautical miles
Power plant one Rolls-Royce Adour Mk 851 turbofan engine
Crew one instructor, one student
Design life 14,400 flight hours (20 years at 720 hours per year in a "carrier environment")

09/26/2006 @ 10:01 [ref: 14293]
 Kingsville, TX
The T45A Goshawk is a Navy trainer. In Feburary 1992 VT-21 began transitioning instructors from th TA-4J to the T45A. In January 1993 the first student class began training in the T45A.
10/22/2002 @ 19:21 [ref: 5931]
 Jacksonville, FL
How are the wings being maintained for the T-45?
09/24/2001 @ 09:06 [ref: 3250]
 , CA
The T-45 Didn't enter service in 1948, it entered in like 1978. Great Website though!
07/25/2001 @ 12:47 [ref: 2757]
 Gene Sulprizio
 Birmingham, AL
Who is performing Heavy and Letter Check Maintenance on the T-45 Aircraft?
01/11/2001 @ 14:08 [ref: 1367]
 Normal, IL
The T-45 was used by the NAVY
04/23/2000 @ 13:01 [ref: 115]


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