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North American AJ Savage / A-2 Savage / NA-146 / NA-163


The first heavy attack type to see service from aircraft-carriers of the US Navy, the North American AJ Savage was developed (as the North American NA-146) using two Pratt & Whitney radial engines, augmented by a tail-mounted Allison J33 turbojet. In practice the type saw only limited use in the strategic bombing role for which it had been designed, being replaced from the mid-1950s onwards by the Douglas A3D Skywarrior, but several were subse-quently modified to serve as inflight-refuelling tankers with a hose-and-reel unit in place of the turbojet.

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.

An initial contract for three prototype XAJ-l aircraft was awarded to North American in late June 1946, and construction of these got under way almost immediately although more than two years were to elapse before the Savage took to the air for the first time on 3 July 1948. In its original guise the Savage was manned by a crew of three and was intended to carry a 4536-kg (10,000-lb) weapon load in an internal bomb bay in the aircraft’s belly.

These were followed by 55 initial production AJ-1s, the first one flying in May 1949. Production-configured aircraft began to enter service with Composite Squadron VC-5 in mid-September 1949, but it was not until the end of August 1950 that this unit was considered operationally ready, this marking the climax of several months of seaborne trials aboard the USS Coral Sea. The first carrier landings were performed aboard USS Constellation in August 1950. The first variant to see service with the US Navy was the AJ-l, of which 40 were built, and these were followed by 70 examples of the AJ-2 which featured slightly more powerful radial engines as well as increased fuel capacity, a slightly longer fuselage and a taller fin and rudder to improve handling qualities. The AJ-2 first flew on 19 February 1953.

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. The AJ-2P has distinctive radar "thimble" nose.


AJ-2P Savage

A total of 30 AJ-2Ps was built, this being the last model to see squadron service, not being retired from the active inventory until the beginning of 1960.

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).

In 1948 North American began work on the NA-163 turboprop-powered derivative of the AJ-1 Savage, two prototypes being ordered in September of that year. The US Navy specified major changes, including deletion of the Allison J33 booster engine, and the first prototype North American XA2J-1 did not fly until 4 January 1952. Development was hampered by problems with the Allison XT40-A-6 engines, each of which comprised two T38 engines driving contra-rotating propellers through a gearbox, allowing either T38 in each unit to be shut down for long-range cruise. The three-man crew was provided with a pressurised cabin and defensive armament comprised two 20mm guns in a remotely-controlled barbette. Maximum offensive load was 4911kg of bombs. The completed second prototype was never flown.

AJ-2 Savage

Engines: 2 x 2,500-hp (1864-kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-48 radial and 1 x 4,600-lb (2087-kg) thrust Allison J33-A-10 turbojet
Max speed: 628 km/h (390 mph)
Service ceiling: 12190 m(40,000 ft)
Range 3540 km (2,200 miles)
Empty wt: 12247 kg  (27,000 lb)
Maximum take-off wt: 23396 kg (51,580 lb)
Wing span 21.77 m (71 ft 5 in)
Length 19.23 m (63 ft 1 in)
Height 6.22 m (20 ft 5 in)
Wing area 77.62 sq.m (835.5 sq ft)
Armament: up to 4536 kg (10,000 lb) of bombs carried internally.
Crew: 3

Engines: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-44W, 1790kW + Allison J33-A-19 auxiliary turboprop, 2087kg
Max take-off weight: 23973 kg / 52852 lb
Wingspan: 22.91 m / 75 ft 2 in
Length: 19.20 m / 62 ft 12 in
Max. speed: 758 km/h / 471 mph
Crew: 3

AJ-2P Savage

Carrier-based photo-reconnaissance and attack bomber
Engines: 2x2,400 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R2800-48W and 1 x 4,600 lb. thrust Allison J33-A-10
Wingspan: 71 ft. 5 in
Length: 65 ft.
Loaded weight: 55,000 lb.
Max. speed: 425 m.p.h.
Ceiling: 40,000 ft.
Typical range: More than 3,000 miles at 290 mph
Payload: 12,000 lbs internal
Operational equipment: 18 cameras
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannon
Crew: 3

Engines: 2 x Allison XT40-A-6 turboprops
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannons, 4900kg of weapons
Crew: 3





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