Douglas A-3 Skywarrior

In 1947 the US Navy placed a requirement for a carrier based strategic attack bomber. To meet this requirement Douglas produced the A-3 Skywarrior, with the prototype the XA-3D-1 Skywarrior first flying on 28th October 1952. Originally it carried a pair of Westinghouse XJ40-WE-3 turbojet engines but these engines failed leading to a redesign of many of the US Navy’s aircraft and the Skywarrior had J57 jet engines fitted. The first production model flew in September 1953 and entered service with the heavy attack squadrons of the Navy in 1956. The A-3 was the heaviest and biggest aircraft ever designed for regular use from an aircraft carrier. It was unofficially nicknamed ‘The Whale’ or  even less flattering ‘All 3 Dead’ because it had 3 crew and no ejector seats. One interesting fact is that the nuclear device was armed while the aircraft was airborne.

This first version the A3D-1 was only produced in small numbers and was soon replaced by the A-3B which served well into the 1960s. The A3-B had several specialised variant produced such as the KA-3B in-flight refuelling tanker and the EKA-3B which combined ECM duties with that of a tanker. These variants served long after the navy had dispensed with the original bomber version and both served during the Vietnam War.  Photo recon and pure ECM versions were later produced with the EA-3B ECM being the longest serving version still being operational into the 1980s while the KA-3B tankers served with the US Navy Reserve. Other Skywarriors were also used as test beds for new ECM equipment.

Max speed; 982km/h (610 mph)
Max Range; 4667km (2,900 miles)
Weapons; x2 20mm radar controlled cannon in rear turret, plus 12,000lbs of ordnance in internal weapons bay

http://www.a3skywarrior.com: A-3 Skywarrior association, includes video clips, technical data, excerpts from manuals.

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (29 March 2007), Douglas A-3 Skywarrior, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_douglas_skywarrior.html

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