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
 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
 Sanford, FL
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
 Tampa, FL
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
 Vandalia, OH
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
 Elkhart, IN
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
 , CO
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]
 , 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]


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