North American A3J-1 (A-5A) 'Vigilante'

  Manufacturer:North American

  Base model:A3J
  Designation System:U.S. Navy / Marines
  Designation Period:1946-1962
  Basic role:Attack
  See Also:

Not Yet Available


Recent comments by our visitors
 Stu Carlin
 Boynton Beach, FL
Cecil Willis,

Its been a while since I've gone on this site. It appears we were stationed together in Heavy 7. I was the Plane Capt. on 149282 the night it hit the round down; sad, sad night.
My wife and I were just in N.C. last weekend to visit Family. Where are you located?

11/15/2008 @ 06:18 [ref: 23072]
 , NC
Does anyone have details of the crash of the second prototype? I have found a little:

I found this stuff about the A3J crash:

3June1959, Pilot Hopkins

Plane number: Air Force 145158

Electrical and hydralic failure.

The first flight of the YA3J-1 took place on August 31, 1958, North American chief test pilot Richard Wenzel being at the controls. Only a few relatively minor problems were encountered. The Vigilante went supersonic for the first time on September 5. The second prototype joined the flight test program in November.

The first production contract was issued in January of 1959. On June 3, 1959, the second prototype (BuNo 145158) crashed when a hydraulic and electrical system failure caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.

The initial A3J-1 production batches soon followed. 14 of them were employed in test flights. The 6th Vigilante made 14 launches and landings on the USS Saratoga (CVA-60) in July of 1960. Additional tests were made of the deck handling of the Vigilante.

Initial production A3J-1s were powered by a pair of J79-GE-2 turbojets, each rated at 15,150 lb.s.t. with afterburning. Very early on, the J79-GE-4 was introduced on the production line, followed very soon by the J79-GE-8, both of which were rated at 16,500 lb.st. with afterburning.


145157/145158 North American XA3J-1 Vigilante c/n NA247-1/2. Later redesignated YA-5A-1-NH 145157 converted to RA-5C and given new c/n NA296-44. To MASDC as 4A0018 Sep 1, 1971 154158 crashed Jun 3, 1959 when hydraulic and electrical system failure caused loss of control. 145159/145201


11/14/2008 @ 13:03 [ref: 23066]
 Ralph Collins
 Conifer, CO
Click here to join a debate about whether "Vigilante Launch" (click "up" and scroll down alphabetically) shows an A3J, A5A, or (LOL)A-3.


My Father, CDR Ralph Collins, was a test pilot for both aircraft, '61-'62, at Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility, Kirtland AFB (Next to Sandia Labs), in Albuquerque. He did both low-level releases and Goofy-Loops, as they attempted to marry the weapon to North American's albatross. I believe he may have made the first carrier landing with it. It was ~3 times the weight of the Hellcat he flew off Enterprise in '44.

One of NWEF's 2 A3J's sucked a bolt off the runway during T.O., lost an engine, rolled over, and then the crew of 2 ejected into the runway, as the aircraft augered in. The A5A ended up being a high performance recon aircraft. Dad was more thrilled with his next ride - the F4H.
04/25/2008 @ 13:01 [ref: 20718]
 Matt Green
 , WI
My dad flew the A-5A (along with other less-glamorous aircraft) during his Naval career. He always speaks fondly of his time in the Viggie and I know he\'s extremely proud to have flown it. I know he was affiliated with three of the Heavies during his time, but only Heavy 7 comes to mind. Back then he was W-2 Bill \"Gunner\" Green (one of the dying breed of warrant officer pilots at the time) and flew in Vietnam until he was shot down in 68. He never talks about it much so if anyone knew him or has anything they want to share please give me a hollar at IIO_69@yahoo.com
03/04/2008 @ 02:47 [ref: 19851]
 Mary Monroe
 , NY
To W. Duane Fessenden -
Mr. Fessenden, you'll see I have two previous postings on this page. Don Murry replied to my earlier posting and it's been wonderful to be in touch with him. I was excited to see your post particularly since you indicate you remember the A3J record flight well. If you have a moment, would you kindly contact me? I'd be very interested in your time with the Vigi. Please be assured I will respect your privacy. I can be reached at: mfmonroe@netzero.com Thank you very much. Mary Monroe
02/05/2008 @ 03:01 [ref: 19558]
 W Duane Fessenden
 Redlands, CA
I left the Navy in 1958, after serving in VAH-8 as a B/N and making the first cruise in the Forrestal CVA-59, then to Heavy Attack Training Unit (HATU) in Sanford. From there I joined NAA and became the Flight Test Engineer for what became the RA5C. I remember well the altitude record flight by Munroe and Heath. The picture showing the plane and crew was at the NAA flight ramp.
01/18/2008 @ 09:56 [ref: 19347]
 Nelson Goodreau
 Sanford, FL
To: Cecil Willis
My dad (same name)was in VAH-7 and served aboard CVAN-65 about the same time as you.
I heard that there is some sort of memorial dedication to a Vigilante exhibit at the former NAS Sanford this weekend that I hope to make.
Anyone who knew my dad, please feel free to email me @ nelson at goodreau dot com.
11/07/2007 @ 08:51 [ref: 18432]
 Mary Monroe
 , NY
To DON MURRY of Texas: would be very grateful if you would be in touch with me so I can ask you about the photo you uploaded of the A3J World Altitude Record flight, which shows my dad (Larry Monroe, B/N) and Leroy Heath (pilot). It's a photo I haven't seen before.
07/29/2007 @ 08:15 [ref: 17331]
 Stu Carlin
 , FL
Cecil Willis, I do remember you. Heavy 7 was a great experience. Have you had the opportunity to keep in touch with any of the folks from VAH-7?
05/17/2007 @ 16:12 [ref: 16506]
 Cecil Willis
 Shelby, NC
Re: Comments by Stu Carlin

I was in VAH-7 from 1961 to 1963 and made the first two Med cruises and the Cuban missile cruise on board the Enterprise.

I was aboard the Enterprise when Cruse and Cottle were killed. I was an AQB-2 working in the ASB shop when they crashed. Our shop was forward on the hanger deck level and we were unaware of it until someone came in to tell us. I remember a short time later that our Division Officer, Larry Monroe, came in the shop to talk with us about the accident.

Stu, I don't remember you but it is always good to hear from anyone affililated with VAH-7 or the Enterprise.
09/04/2006 @ 07:30 [ref: 14068]


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