North American AJ Savage
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North American AJ Savage

The first naval combat aircraft designed to carry an atomic bomb and for a time the world's largest carrier based aircraft, the Savage was developed (as the North American NA-146) to meet a US Navy requirement for a high performance attack bomber capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.

In order to meet the specification's demands a large aircraft was required, this in turn dictating the need far an unusual composite powerplants configuration - a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radials as the primary engines augmented by an auxiliary Allison J33 turbojet in the lower rear fuselage.

This third engine was intended to provide a high speed 'dash' capability during the attack phase of the aircraft's operation and for extra boost on takeoff when required. Other features included shoulder mounted folding wings, tricycle undercarriage, wing tip fuel tanks and (on the first models) dihedral tail planes.

The Savage was ordered In June 1946, the first of three XAJ-1 prototypes flying on 3 July 1948. These were followed by 55 initial production AJ-1s, the first one flying in May 1949.

Deliveries to US Navy squadron VC-5 began in September 1949 and the first carrier landings were performed aboard USS Constellation in August 1950.

The AJ-2 first flew on 19 February 1953, this upgraded model featuring revised versions of the same powerplants, increased fuel capacity, systems modifications, a taller fin and no tailplane dihedral.

Preceding the AJ-2 bomber was the photo-reconnaissance AJ-2P (first flight 6 March 1952) equipped with 18 cameras for day and night photography at high and low altitudes, photo-flash bombs in the weapons bay, automatic control of most of the cameras, the associated electronics equipment in a modified nose and additional fuel capacity. Four US Navy combat squadrons were still operating the AJ-2 in 1958 and these received AJ-2Ps.

A number of AJ-1s and AJ-2s were converted to flight refuelling tankers with a hose-and-reel unit installed in the weapons bay. The few Savages still in service in September 1962 when all USAF and USN aircraft designations were combined into the existing Air Force system were redesignated A-2A (AJ-1) and A-2B (AJ-2).

North American AJ Savage

 ENGINE2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-44W, 1790kW + Allison J33-A-19 auxiliary turboprop, 2087kg
    Take-off weight23973 kg52852 lb
    Wingspan22.91 m75 ft 2 in
    Length19.20 m63 ft 0 in
    Max. speed758 km/h471 mph

North American AJ Savage

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100
Stan Brauen, AMH3, 19.04.2011

I joined VC-7 at Moffet Field in December, 1950. VC-7 was then relocated to NAS Norfolk in April/May, 1951. I did the first tour in Lyautey and was schooled on the AJ at North American in Columbus, OH in December, 1952 while based at Patuxent River. I served as an AM till discharge in October, 1953 prior to VC-7 going to Pt Lyautey for a second tour. Ed Clark and I spent a lot of hours doing mods at NAS Norfolk and correcting hydraulic leaks. Went on CV18 and CV43 quals. I have been to several VC-7 reunions. Great memories.

John Goheen, USN, Ret., 12.04.2011

My first exposure to the Navy was at NAS North Island, San Diego, CA in early 1956. I was assigned to Heavy Attack Squadron Two, with the A3 Skywarrior. But we didn't have any yet. Douglas was still building them. So I was sent TAD to VC-6 to learn the bombing system in the AJ-2 Savage which was the same system used in the A3. When VAH-2 received the Skywarrior aircraft, I returned to VAH-2 and spent eleven years with the Skywarrior. However, I cut my teeth on the AJ-2.

Ed Legg, 20.03.2011

I was attachted to VC-7 for 36 months.
Flew as 3rdcrewmanon the AJ-1,AJ-2 & radioman on the P2V3c.
I was on the Coral Sea in Sept 53 when we lost our skipper's crew who crashed near Italy a sad day.

BRIAN WALLACE, 22.02.2011

My dad flew the AJ off the USS Lake Champlain. He has so many great stories and what the aircraft would do. I to this day, have a t-shirt of his squadron, the Son of Savage with the native and the bone twisted in hair. I think he was a LT at the time but retired as a CDR. 90 years old today and doing well. Pensacola, FL. His email is Call name was Poncho.

Diane Caralivanos, 05.02.2011

I am writing trying to find anyone who may have known, or known-of, my father Lt. Charles B. Dickson, He flew the AJ-1 out of Sandia Base, Albuquerque, NM in 1951. I would so greatly appreciate any information anyone may have about the crash or of knowing my dad. Thank you in advance. Diane Dickson Caralivanos

PJ Imhof Ret. VAP-62 / VAH-15, 11.01.2011

Was an AM in VAP-62 and also in VAH-15, as well as a 3rd crewman.
VAP-62 was at NAS NORVA untilapprox. Sept. 1957, when they moved to NAS JAX. I was xferred to VAH-15 in Feb 1958 until decomissioned in early 1959.
Haven't found too many people from those squadrons online.
Yell this way, if you're one of them.

Glenn Hudson, 10.01.2011

Had flown of the Coral Sea the previus day in the same AJ that crashed at Naples. While on liberty, went up to see the crash site which was a horrible pile of molten aluminum

Glenn Hudson, 10.01.2011

Started VC 8 in Pax river,deployed to Port Lyautey, Operated on USS Coral Sea, had one to Crash in Naples,Operated 2 weeks outside of London,moved to Sanford, Transferred to NAS Jax. to start VAH one with the first A3D Warriors. Dischaged as AM1 Sept 1956.

Ralph DeLange, 22.12.2010

I was stationed with VR-24 Det, Fasron77, at Capodichino Airport in Naples from 53-55. We had a hangar which was off-limits which housed AJ's which were doing some photography of areas behind the Iron Curtain, coastal installations, etc., mostly at night. On a couple occasions they came back with damage which seemed to be anti-aircraft. One unfortunate incident witnessed was the crash of one which seemed to have an engine fire and had nearly made it to the final approach. It spun out of control into an oil refinery adjacent to the field. Very traumatic. I've since learned of the circumstances and the names of those who lost their lives.

HOWARD BROWNE, 31.10.2010


Jerry Kimball, 27.10.2010

I flew photo/radar/radio/window washer with VJ-61 from late 1954-thru end of 1956 based in Miramar and flew photo DAILY on detachments Able-PB4Ys (Panama) Detachments Q5 & Q6-AJ2Ps (Atsugi, Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guam, Taiwan, USS Hornet, Sapporo). I was the firt to reach the PB4Y we lost in the jungles of Panama and had just transfered to Anacostia NAS DC when #6 crashed on Guam (God bless Lt. Avery that had saved my life several times) and #7 that got lost going from Guam to PI and had to bail out. Would really like to find some of the freinds from that period to exchange emails. I did attend several reunions..but, not recently. I have many pics of those years to share. Jerry Kimball PH2.

Gary Larrabee, 05.10.2010

I served in Navy Sqd. VAH-15 located at NAS Norfork, VA. We had 11 AJ-2 aircraft that were used as inflight refuelers. I flew as a Plane Capt. and Third Crewman. The Spec on the aircraft is not correct, we carried a crew of 4. One item that is not revealed is the wings and tail had to be folded with externautal "jacks" to get the aircraft wher it would fit on the hangar deck. Most of the AJ-1 lost was due to the Hyd. Fluid leakage that caused fires. The AJ-2 had a water base Hyd. Fluid that did not have a flash point.

Art Kleinhesselink MCPO Ret, 15.09.2010

VJ-61 was my first Navy assignment. I was in the squadron at Miramar and Guam. Made a couple of deployments to Sangley Pt. PI, Atsughi and Thailand. Have many fond memories of that AJ2P. The walking struts were different and the Air Force tower didn't understand when asked permission to start the J33 jet. They couldn't see it.Tough getting to some of the electronic gear in the tunnel. Lost some good shipmates in crashes.

Jim, 10.09.2010

During my service aboard USS Ticonderobe CVA 14 in 1955-56 I watched flight operations on many occasions. A couple of things I remember were, an AJ being catapulted and the brakes were not released. The plane sank a bit as it left the deck but maintained it's flight status. The other incident was on landing, the arresting gear connected but the fuselage separated. The plane didn't break into pieces but it was quite a mess. Anyone out there aboard the "TI" in the Med. that remeber those incidents?

Halls Fred B. ADRC RET., 08.09.2010

I spent two tours with (VJ-61 and VAP-61) at Miramar 53 and 54 and at Agana Guam 57 and 58. I was on flying status both tours and spent more time on a check stand than in the air. I have many fond memories from that period, that was befor NATOPS was born and took the fun out of flying.

Halls Fred B. ADRC RET., 08.09.2010

I spent two tours with (VJ-61 and VAP-61) at Miramar 53 and 54 and at Agana Guam 57 and 58. I was on flying status both tours and spent more time on a check stand than in the air. I have many fond memories from that period, that was befor NATOPS was born and took the fun out of flying.

tom grant, 05.09.2010


Richard Greenwood LCDR, 02.09.2010

I flew the AJ-2P while with VAP61, Guam station. My first squadron as an aviator. We phptografted a lot of SE Asia in the two years I was with that unit. A proud time and many fond memories. Great aircraft, in my opinion.

William Powell, 18.08.2010

My cousin, Howard E. Gulledge was on the carrier U.S.S. Essex during the Korean War. He also flew with VJ-61 as a photographer on the AJ-2P. He told me alot of stories about it. But he has passed on and everytime I see the AJ at Pensacola, I always think of him.

Harry Seifert, Jr, 22.05.2010

My dad was attached to VAP 61 at NAS Miramar in 1954. He was an ATCS in charge of the three man camera repair section of the squadron.
The squadron had two very large, gray and belligerent geese as mascots and there was one holding an aviation camera depicted on the squadrons patch.
We went to Guam with the squadron from 1956 - 1958. I have memories of catching the "cattle-car" down to his squadron area and being allowed to play around the parked aircraft with a couple of buddies whose dad's were also in the squadron. The planes had a smell that was particular to the type. I later found out that the hydraulic system for the aircraft was using a new and somewhat hazardous hydraulic fluid. And "two turnin', one burnin' ", I remember being painted in a wall in Fiddler's Green, the base CPO club. That's where our Cub Scout den met.
I can also remember watching an AJ run off the end of the runway and catch fire. My dad was real quiet that night at home.
In '57, a detachment of two planes was sent to Thailand for a 3 month mission. Shortly before my dad passed, he told us that they were flying from Phuket in Thailand as well as Pnom Pehn (?) in Laos and somewhere in Cambodia. I guess we were involved in SE Asia way before Kennedy sent in the first wave of advisors.

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