Douglas A3D / A-3 Skywarrior
The Douglas A3D Skywarrior originated from a US Navy requirement of 1947. An attack bomber with strategic strike capability was envisaged for the new 'Forrestal' class aircraft-carriers.
The design was a high-wing monoplane, with retractable tricycle landing gear, two podded turbojets beneath the wing, and a large internal weapons bay to accommodate up to 5443kg of varied weapons. The wings were swept back 36° and had high-aspect ratio for long range, all tail surfaces were swept, and the outer wing panels and vertical tail folded.
The first of two prototypes made its maiden flight on 28 October 1952, powered by 3175kg Westinghouse XJ40-WET3 engines, but the failure of this engine programme meant that the 4400kg thrust Pratt & Whitney J57-P-6 powered the production A3D-1. The first of these A3D-1s flew on 16 September 1953, and deliveries to the US Navy's VAH-1 attack squadron began on 31 March 1956.
In 1962 the designation was changed to A-3, the initial three-seat production version becoming A-3A. Five of these were modified subsequently for ECM missions under the designation EA-3A. The A-3B (previously A3D-2) which entered service in 1957 had more powerful J57-P-10 engines and an inflight-refuelling probe. A reconnaissance variant with cameras in the weapons bay was designated RA-3B (A3D-2P), and EA-3B (A3D-2Q) identified ECM aircraft with a four-man crew in the weapons bay.
Other designations include 12 TA-3B (A3D-2T) trainers for radar operators, one VA-3B (A3D-2Z) executive transport, and the final variants in front-line US Navy service were KA-3B inflight-refuelling tankers and 30 EKA-3B tanker/counter-measures/strike aircraft. Skywarrior variants serving included TA-3B crew trainers, EKA-3B early-warning 'aggressor' trainers, and KA-3B tankers with Squadrons VAQ-33 at Key West and VAQ-34 at NAS Point Mugu, together with an NA-3B test aircraft operated by the Naval Weapons Test Center and NRA-3Bs with the Pacific Missile Test Center.
An A3D-2 Skywarrior set a record takeoff weight from an aircraft carrier when it took off three times at 38,102 kg on 25 August 1959 from the USN’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Independence, during suitability trials prior to the ship’s commissioning.
Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior
Engines: 2 x Westinghouse J-40 turbojets.
Naval attack bomber
Engines: 2x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-2 turbojets, 10,000 lb. (approx.) thrust
Wingspan: 72 ft. 6 in
Length: 75 ft. 2 in
Loaded weight: 67,000 lb
Max. speed: nearly 700 m.p.h.
Ceiling: 45,000 ft.
Range: 1,500-2,000 miles.
Armament: 2 x 20 mm. tail guns.
Engine: 2 x Pratt & Whitney J57-P-10 turbojets, 4763kg each
Max take-off weight: 37195 kg / 82001 lb
Empty weight: 17876 kg / 39410 lb
Wingspan: 22.10 m / 72 ft 6 in
Length: 23.27 m / 76 ft 4 in
Height: 6.95 m / 22 ft 10 in
Wing area: 75.43 sq.m / 811.92 sq ft
Max. speed: 982 km/h / 610 mph
Cruise speed: 837 km/h / 520 mph
Ceiling: 12495 m / 41000 ft
Range: 1690 km / 1050 miles
Armament: 2 x 20mm rear-firing cannon, 5500kg of bombs