North American A3J-1 (A-5A) 'Vigilante'
| Gary Simonds|
| Cecil Willis, Stu Carlin
I was in VAH-7 (59 -62) and was initially trained in electronics and more specific the ASB-1A bombsight that was used in our A3D Sky warriors. When I was billeted to Heavy 7 in NAS Sanford, it was known as the VAH-7 “Go Devils”. Before I ever worked on a bombsight I was transferred into Air Intelligence and sent TAD to Norfolk and schooled in photo intelligence.
VAH-7 was the first east coast operational squadron to have the new A3J’s and in preparation for that we came up with a new squadron insignia (a top view of and A3J with dual six-guns replaced the J79’s) and a new name, moving forward we were the “VAH-7 Peacemakers”. It was as a “Peacemaker” that our Comander’s A3J hit the apron and went into the drink never to be recovered. Therefore I do not recall what the stated reason was for the crash but suspect that it may have been electro-mechanical instability.
While I was in, the A3J method of delivery of a nuke was to jettison it thru the rear of its fuselage where as previously we practiced loft bombing with our A3D Sky warriors. BTW There was an occasional price to pay for that also.
By the dates of service listed at Sanford I see that there is a possibility that some of your may recall the day we lost two A3D’s in a mid-air. I believe that one was VAH-5 and the other was VAH-11. To my recollection one was doing circle and bounces and the other was GCA. There were others but that was a real bad day.
I was with Heavy 7 on the Forrestal and was on the “Big E” for the over flights of Cuba (Cuban missile crises).
Enjoyed reading the posts from you Sanford Heavy Attack Brothers. Unfortunately there may not be too many of us left.
06/22/2015 @ 17:12 [ref: 69140]
| Steve Wilster|
Melbourne Beach, FL
| Nice seeing some of these posts. I grew up in Sanford. My dad is Gunnar F Wilster and flew the Vigilante along with what seemed like a million other planes both in the Navy and as a private pilot after retirement. Thanks to all that served. |
08/07/2014 @ 14:52 [ref: 68593]
| Tom D|
| This is for Bob Briggs. I am searching for information on my Grandfather AT1 Dale who was killed during a landing of an A3 in August 1960 on the USS Independance. He was staioned at NAS Sanford the same time you were. Please contact me. |
10/02/2012 @ 18:48 [ref: 67281]
| Bob Briggs|
| I was stationed at NAS Sanford,Fl VAH-3 my entire class from Memphis was assigned "Duration of Duty to VAH-3, We were the first class to have been trained on the Vigalante.When we got to Sanford thay were waiting for us to operate. We trained all the pilots for HATRON 1 and and Whidby island.I was plane captain on a Vigalante and the A3 Sky warrior. I had an 8309-8357 job code. We spent lots of time on carrier Quals. I servrd on the Saratoga,Forrestal,independence and the BIG "E" Enterprise.I was the only man on base to make E-5 in Nov '65. Any Heavy 3 guys out there? |
01/26/2011 @ 08:08 [ref: 35877]
| Jackie L Peters|
Plain Dealing, LA
| I was a 3rd class ADJ stationed at NAS Sanford Fla. form mid.1961 through mid 1963 and I remember being one of the first mech's trained on the J-79,then with heavy-3 the sea dragons recived the frist A3J. I was also amazed that since the aircraft had two J-79's I was put in charge of of one of the engine shops as there were no higher ranked J79 Mech's. VAH-3 was a training sqd. and later I was transfered to VAH-1 the Smoking Tigers. I served with Heavy-1. I remember in 1962 President kenedy's China Lake demostration were a Vigilante left NAS JAX. and did a Loft boming demonstration of a simulated Nuke 30 meers from target. I also remember Later that year being on base lockdown, wit one of our aircraft being ready for the cuban missle crises.but no body wanted to use it 10/25/2010 @ 12:47 [ref: 31654]|
| Terry Boyd|
| I was their when these carrier picts. were taken. The ship is USS Saratoga (CVA)60. We did the carrier tests for this plane. I was watching from the bridge when at one of the launches the plane went off the deck BEFORE the cat. hit the stop. No one could believe it. Never saw this happen again. One powerfull plane. We also did the carrier test for the F3H Phantom. Served 3 yrs. aboard Sara. & made 2 Med. Cruises.They still had the 5"38 antiaircraft guns on her when I left in 1962. Any 3rd Div. guys remember drop me a line. |
04/02/2010 @ 10:11 [ref: 25966]
| Steve Koziatek|
| My dad actually helped design the Vigilante at the Columbus NAA plant. Along with the OV-10. He worked there till it was shut down then moved to Bell Aircrat in Arlington Tx. to help on the XV-15 and the V-22. |
01/31/2010 @ 07:35 [ref: 25656]
| Ralph Collins|
| I stand corrected on the history of A3J carrier landings. |
07/11/2009 @ 07:05 [ref: 24291]
| 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]
| 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]