North American A-5 Vigilante
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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

 ENGINE2 x turbo-jet GE J-79-8(N), 75.6kN
    Take-off weight27300 kg60187 lb
    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
    Max. speedM2+ M2+
    Ceiling18300 m60050 ft
    Range3700 km2299 miles
 ARMAMENTnuclear bombs and missiles

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

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Stephen Evans, 28.03.2016

Surprisingly large aircraft to be operating from a carrier. A beautiful airplane non the less. Too bad it never got to "nuke" anyone.

Delbert hayes AEC ret, 04.05.2015

I worked 14 of my 22 year tour on that aircraft. The flight controls were the latest and lots of fun to work on. Did no like the bace carts. All systems were a lot to learn. I still can remember PIN numbers on amps. Was a real challenge for an old mo boy. Made a reunion in Sanford in 2004.

John Mouw, 08.04.2015

After I left electronics school in Millington I was sent to NAS Albany. I remember pressing my face to the window glass of the car I was riding in watching the Viggie take off at night in after-burner. I thought I was in heaven. After spending time in RVAH-3 and then RVAH-11, I realized I was in heaven.

EDWARD J. FERRETT, 14.12.2014

I maintained, repaired, and tested the Auto Pilot system on the A3-J aircraft, in flight test. You could always tell when the A-3J was taxi-ing or flying in the area, as it had a sound all of it's own. It was a very good program to work on. A lot of good people.

Ernie Stoops, 10.11.2014

I was a Dynamicist from june 57 to May 63 on the A3J/RA5C. It was a beautiful airplane, esp the A3J. We had a great Group doing the analyses, lab tests, wind tunnel tests and flight tests. George Hoskins was the Test Pilot on the A3J doing Flutter Tests, a GREAT test pilot.

chuck armstrong, 03.08.2014

Worked in airframes in Key West. Yes a neat airplane but hard to keep in the air the older it got. The flight control system and hydraulic system was not mechanic friendly. Still the coolest looking plane in the air by far!

Paul Scott, 28.04.2014

Great aircraft - for some reason, don't know why, it's overshadowed by other supersonic bombers, when it was I a class of its own, like the F-111 or the B-58 'Hustler'.

Ray Williams, 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,

Joe, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

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