North American A-5 Vigilante
1958
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  FIGHTER-BOMBER, RECONNAISSANCEVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / North American  

North American A-5 Vigilante

The Vigilante was designed as a Mach 2 carrier-based attack aircraft capable of carrying nuclear or conventional bombs. The first prototype flew on 31 August 1958 and 57 production A-5A attack aircraft were delivered to the US Navy, becoming operational on board USS Enterprise in February 1962. The other major version of the Vigilante was the RA-5G, a reconnaissance type of which more than 90 were built as new; most of the A-5A were subsequently converted to this standard.

North American A-5 Vigilante


Specification 
 CREW2
 ENGINE2 x turbo-jet GE J-79-8(N), 75.6kN
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight27300 kg60187 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan16.2 m53 ft 2 in
    Length22.3 m73 ft 2 in
    Height5.9 m19 ft 4 in
    Wing area65.0 m2699.65 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speedM2+ M2+
    Ceiling18300 m60050 ft
    Range3700 km2299 miles
 ARMAMENTnuclear bombs and missiles

3-View 
North American A-5 VigilanteA three-view drawing (1000 x 493)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Ray Williams, rwms=ij.net, 27.11.2013

I was at NAAS (Naval Aux. Air Sation) Sanford in VAH-3 When The A3js arrived. Worked flight line ASB (fire control Bombing) out of building 126 (it was still there last time I got up there in 2009) WE had an indecent where a Vigi went to afterburner chained down to the ramp. I ended up partially deaf from that experience. Would enjoy hearing from anyone that remembers that time. AQ1 Raymond Williams Retired, rwms@ij.net

Joe, jkaposi=hotmail.com, 21.08.2013

USS Constellation trapped an RA-5C during a daytime barricade event August 18 1968. I've been looking for either PLAT footage or home video of that even for many years if anyone can help.

Paul Scott, psmiddx=yahoo.com, 08.04.2013

What an excellent aircraft, before the Tomcat. Although America had the Phantom in USN service, this really was the cutting edge, for a carrier-based aircaft

Ron Bugess, bamparon=comcast.net, 21.12.2012

Served with RVAH-1, NAS Sanford, 1964-66, Heavy 1 flew off the USS Indepence CVA-62 in 1965 in South China Sea. Biggest beast on the Carrier & fastest. But now protection over mission site. The Vigi's took the heaviest losses per mission of the war. Like to go back to Sanford and see the place. Guess we won't hear "Launch the Heavies" anymore.

Jerry Steinle, kage55=bellsouth.net, 04.12.2012

After leaving the Navy in Aug. of 1959 as a 2nd class aircraft electronic tech. I went to work at North American Aviation in Columbus Ohio. Got to work on the A3J from the early stages and then on to the RA5C recon version. A beautiful airplane and fast. I was on the team that set the altitude record for it's type and also help deliver the first A3J's to the Navy in Sanford Fl. The recon version had tons of electronic equip. and I got to work on the camera systems made by Chicago Aireal Industries. Seems to me I remember a mad scramble to get one ready to take pictures over Cuba before it actually became operational.

DAVID LAWHORN, dlawhorn216=juno.com, 11.06.2012

When I arrived at NAS Albany Georgia in August 1969 assigned to RVAH-3. We had the C-47,TA-3B,TA4J,and the best looking aircraft the Navy has ever purchased RA-5C. I got to work with some really good sailors while being assigned to RVAH-3. I had orders to RVAH-9 but tranfered to Naval hospital Jax and never got to go on cruise with her. After 31 years active duty and now working at Pax River MD the Vigilante in the air museum was one I had worked on.

Larry Sibley, diazodok=yahoo.com, 12.03.2012

what wonderful memories @ the naa columbus plant. i was lead man in the non destructive testing dept (x-ray) spent a lot of time x-raying the titanium duct work for the boundry layer control (blc) system that was a whole new control system concept. at the time titanium was almost a exotic metal that was very difficult to form into the complex shapes for the system and consequently had to be welded from many small pieces and inspected for welding defects 100%. the vig had a very strange trade mark sound that could be heard all over the east side of columbus in the wee hours out on the ramp @ run up. this was in 1963 / 1965. best job i ever had.

Steve Denoo, sadenoo=gmail.com, 06.01.2012

This is one of the most under rated aircraft ever. I observed them coming on board the ship. Then if you have had the opportunity and when you saw them show off and do what they were designed for, it takes your breath away. There is nothing in the air that can compete with it today. Years ahead of its time. A few years ago the Navy wanted to bring them back, but Politics got in the way.

Rick Norton AE3, rnorton=progressrail.com, 22.06.2011

I was stationed Albany Ga,RVAH-3 1970 to 1972 MY self,second class AT, and Warrant Officer Burkett. Got approval to be checked out to ride in the RA5C and A4E sky hawks. Had a great time getting rides in the A4 was bumped every time i got chance for the viggie by officer burkett. A lot of good memories going on carrier quals from norfolk va. After the navy i went to college became a pilot,. Still chief pilot for a major corp. Flying jets for 35 years. I was inspired by the pilots that i got to fly with at RVAH-3. thanks guys.

Kenneth Boone, kboone2=socal.rr.com, 21.06.2011

I worked at North American-Autonetics Div. in Anaheim Ca where we assembled and tested the inertial navigation system for the Vigi. Started working on submarine guidance then transfered to the Vige system in 1962-63. In 1962 another technicion Parker Bence and I joined the Navy Reserve and served two years active duty 63-65 at NAS Jacksonville O&R, mainly working with civilians who were setting up to overhaul and repair the electronics for the Vigi. Working on the RA-5c inertial guidance was one of the most enjoyable jobs that I had in my 35 years with North American/Rockwell Inter.

Keene Little, keene=angels20.com, 07.06.2011

When I earned my wings in 1976 I was asked if I liked taking pictures and I said I did. That and my carrier qualification grades got me assigned to the Vigis. I had the honor and privilege of flying in the last squadron to decommission (RVAH-7 Peacemakers) on a Westpac cruise in 1979. I loved the mission and I loved flying low and fast through the mountains (I have some great 8mm film of some of the flights), something the Vigi was well suited for. Oddly enough I also loved bringing it aboard the carrier, day and night -- it was a real challenge. It's the fastest looking airplane standing still. What a gorgeous airplane (I have a nice wood model, made in the Philippines, sitting above my desk) and some great memories.

Stan Kapp, kapps=att.net, 27.04.2011

I loved watching the RA5c's coming out of overhaul at NAS Jax. The test flights in 1970-72 were amazing, Full burner takeoffs, Fuel dump flybuys..I saw one had landed on I-4 between Deland & Daytona beach, was on its way to Jax from Key West, ran into problems and Sanford had closed, made an uneventful landing and taxied to the rest area just past Sr-44.

Bart Osborne, SpdFrk=aol.com, 20.04.2011

I started my design career In Cols. in 1956 on the YA3J-1. Later went to Palmdale to support flight test of the first three a/cs. At PMD we sorted out the variable inlets and bleed air that finally got the a/c to M=2+.Later worked on design of the A3J-3 which got cancelled in favor of the SR-71.

marvin leininger, marvinleininger=bellsouth.net, 08.03.2011

I worked the control tower at NAS Sanford, 1962-1966. The RAG was VAH3 and as I recall they got the first A3J/A5A. Heavy 5,7,9,1, aand 13 were there I believe. What a replacement for the A3 and the AJ Savage that was there when I first arrived. I recall Lt. Jerry Coffee who was "paddles" for FCLP's,later to become a POW in Nam. He lost a RA5C, also LCDR Charley James who was "The Man" of the RA5C. Many control tower memories of the Viggie, some not so good. Bob Hoover came around often, due to his affiliation with North American.

charles mann`, entman=aol.com, 28.02.2011

Beautiful Aircraft. Was back seat on a launch and recovery on the JFK in 68-70 era. I was a flight surgeon with CRAW_1 at NAS ALBANY. Also have some good 8mm film on the carrier operations including 1 unfortunate accident.

Jim "Woody" Morris, csonka=peoplepc.com, 23.02.2011

I was attach to RVAH5 in 1966-1967. My father Ron "Barrell" Morris served in RVAH3,VAP62,and RVAH5. We both served together in RVAH5. We made a Med Cruise in 66-67. I was one of the plane Captains. Well long story short I had the Vigiante pulled across my left leg. It was take off on board the USS America. But that was the best time of my life. She was a fast and sleake plane. I remember when Charley James dump fuel and did a barrell roll and lit the fuel. What a fire ring that was. Like the man said the is a great restored A-5 at the Sanford Airport. With Heavy 3 on the side..come see it.

Terry Ruf AME, rufhaus2=aol.com, 10.01.2011

I had the privilege of working on the RA-5C Vigilanty in RVAH-9 from 72 to 75. I later went on to work on the Phantom & the Tomcat, but I will always love the time I spent in Heavy-9 & working on the Vigilanty.

Keith M Myers, keithmmyers=comcast.net, 28.12.2010

I was stationed at NAS Sanford, FL when the vigilante arrived, the first were designated A3J-1, I was the third Vigilante Plane Captain, of Aircraft BUNO 148925. I was later assigned to Heavy Seven aboard the USS Enterprise with the Vigilante. 12 per Squadron were to many for ship board duty.

Chris Thompson, lthompso=phonewave.net, 27.11.2010

Had the great pleasure of retrieving a RA-5 Vigilante from China Lake in 1998. My command at NAS Fallon got the go ahead to use this aircraft as a static display. Unknown years of environment had worked it over. We started the dissasembly, found the seats to still be armed. A well placed phone call later and the fellas came out to help us with that. We all got a turn at popping a cad. So then anyway, we dissambled that wonderful Viggie and transported it to NAS Fallon for clean-up, reassembly, and painting. It now sits between the Chapel and Navy Fed. So cool, I see it everytime I go on base. As a side note, when I was rebuilding it, I met a Tech rep with one of the visiting squadrons. he had been active with a Viggie unit. He told me that with the Viggie's massive fuel load, they could go full power, in after a bomb raid for recon. The escort Phantom Pilots would bitch because they could not sustain the speed with their much smaller fuel load and would request the RA-5 Driver to slow down. I feel very lucky to have had time with this bird and those who did when it was operational. Long Live the Viggie drivers and Crews.
Chris Thompson
USN Retired

joe drake, mustang4244=aol.com, 24.11.2010

I was in RVAH-3, RVAH-5 and RVAH-6 FROM sEPT 69-Aug 79 and I enjoyed my time in the Viggies. I remember having to fly in the back seat of a viggie from North Island to NAS FALLON to repair a down aircraft and flew back to NORTH ISLAND as I was an E-5 at the time i felt I was real lucky to be selected for this mission.

1-20 21-40 41-60

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