North American A3J-3P 'Vigilante'

  Manufacturer:North American
  Base model:A3J
  Designation System:U.S. Navy / Marines
  Designation Period:1946-1962
  Basic role:Attack
  Modified Mission:Photographic reconnaissance/Survey
  See Also:

Not Yet Available

Known serial numbers
149306 / 143317, 150823 / 150842


Recent comments by our visitors
 John Lomenick CWO2 USN Ret
 Millersville, MO
FYI: victorsite.net has a great artical about the history of the A3J-RA5C. Has statistics as well and mentions Mary's husband sitting back seat while setting the record for speed and altitude.
02/21/2009 @ 16:19 [ref: 23788]
 Jeff Robertson
 Kalamazoo, MI
I remember the bird that was fitted out with special gear that Mt Lomenick refers to. I encountered that plane in Albany in 1972. It interfered with teh photo systems a bit but we were instructed not to touch it at all. I do not remember the buno, but it was a dash 10.
11/14/2008 @ 05:49 [ref: 23063]
 Richard Hammond
 Fort Pierce, FL
After reading some of the posted notes, I would like to add a few comments..Even though the Vigilante was developed with the designation of A#J, when itr got to the fleet it was renamed the A5A...we already had A3 Skywarrariors and I guess the Navy didn't want any confusion...especially during a carrier launch...there was probably 20,000 lbs. or more difference between the two aircraft...anyway..later, it became the RA5C Vigilante..

When if was first intoduced to the squadrons at NAS Sanford, I believe it was faster than any other aircraft in the US Navy...We received the first one's in January, 1964...Buy the way, the Vigilante squadrons were eventualy...RVAH1, RVAH3, RVAH5, RVAH7, RVAH9, RVAH11 AND RVAH12, all stationed at NAS Sanford, Florida (Ramey Field).

I served with RVAH12 and went to Vietnam abord the U.S.S. Constellation in 1967. We lost 2 Vigilantes during the cruise....one disappeared 40 miles aft of the ship and the other was shot down over Haiphong Harbour..

I believe the Navy made a major mistake in making the Vigilante into a recon platform. The enjines did not smoke like the F4 Phantoms and it would have been as fast or faster as the Vigilante could carry extra gas in the internal bomb bay...It would have made a gret interceptor and/or dogfighter..to me it always looked like and F8 on steroids and I think it could have done a lot more than just recon...howsomever, in those days, the military industrial complex ruled and the Vigilante got the shor straw...
I still love the airplane and the A3's two...spent a lot of time working on both...
09/16/2008 @ 10:52 [ref: 22690]
 Mary Monroe
 , NY
To Ed Karsin, Coraopolis, PA:

Thanks very much for the reply. Yes, 40 years is a long time ago to try to recall, but I hope the memories that stayed with you are the best ones.
09/10/2008 @ 11:44 [ref: 22656]
 Ed Karsin
 Coraopolis, PA
To Mary Monroe:
Sorry Mary, I can't be of any help. I was in the Maintenance and Engineering Training Dept. So I had little if any experiences with the pilot-navs. I taught the Electronic Techs who repaired and maintained the Bomb Nav systems.
I can remember other Training personnel: Sam Cooper, Bob Mellon, Jerry, Les... Can't remember their last names.
That was over 40 years ago, and my memory isn't that good.

08/23/2008 @ 07:34 [ref: 22530]
 Fred Wise
 Glen Burnie, MD
Dennis, I worked in a maint dept (cant remember the nbr now - hey 46 years have come and gone) Jun thru Oct of 1962 on airframes #58 thru #62.

I was a hardware electronics type from NavSecGru and didnt like just plugging/unplugging black boxes and running the tests by rote. Ended up leaving for an ET type job at NSA in Md.

Did they ever figure out why the rollout feature failed those several times after an over the shoulder labs maneuver?? Our maint dept never turned up anomalies in any of the circuitry or hydraulics before I left.

I remember Wild Bill, when he roared out of a parking space, blew the cover off of an air starter with the exhaust blast, nearly decapitated one of our crew, scattering the guys tools, box and all, for thirty some yards; drug the starboard wing tip on the apron as he swerved out onto the runway. Yeah I remember Bill.

I think Tim Patton may have talked to him about safety after that little episode. ;-)
08/09/2008 @ 17:47 [ref: 22408]
 Alvis Didway
 Madison, NC
We have a new website to honor the aircraft from its inception thru its life of service. There will be a page for each aircraft so people can post photos of the aircraft and any stories for that aircraft, Our first news letter will be coming out next week and the only photo is of the first proto type, please go to rvahnavy.com and check it out, join the forum and stand by for good things to come, thanks for your time, old RA5C mech, ADJ3 Alvis
02/09/2008 @ 14:10 [ref: 19624]
 John Lomenick CWO2 USN Ret
 Millersville, MO
HI Vigi fans. I was introduced to the Vigi at Pax River, MD while assigned to Service Test in 1961. Later my squadron VAH-13 with the A3d transitioned to the RA5C in summer of 1964 at Sanford, FL. I spent 13 years with them as nonrated and advancing through Senior chief and Maintenance Chief for RVAH-12. During my career I was assigned to: RVAH-13,3,6 and 12. At one time I witnessed a "spook" Vigi (I belive it was top secret then and was attached to RVAH-12?) landing on a carrier with an unusual round sensor approximately 1 ft in diameter located about the forward portion of the "top cap" fuel cell. As soon as it landed it was covered with a red protection cover. I also think it was experimental because I never witnessed another Vigi modified with the sensor. Any one knowledgable of this once spook equipment on the Vigi?
11/23/2007 @ 21:46 [ref: 18649]
 Mary Monroe
 New York, NY
To Mr. Karsin: I'm wondering if you crossed paths with my dad, Larry Monroe? He and Leroy Heath are in a photo located on another A3J page on this site (http://www.aero-web.org/specs/northam/a3j-1.htm), taken at the World Altitude Record flight (12/13/60) -- dad was B/N and Leroy was pilot. My brother and I are looking for anyone who knew him and might be willing to share an anectdote or two about him. He died young at age 52, so we've been putting together memorabilia for a while now to pass on to kids/grandkids. If you knew him, would be wonderful to hear from you. Best regards, Mary Monroe
10/05/2007 @ 11:09 [ref: 18109]
 Ed Karsin
 Coraopolis, PA
I taught the Bomb Nav System of the A-3J at the Columbus, OH NA plant from 1961 to 1963. I still remember the Verdan computer that sat between the legs of the navigator, and how advanced it was way back then, as well as the TV cursor corrections made over various checkpoints on way to the target. The gyros and the stable platform, finding true north, then where north actually was. Looking at these pictures brings back so many wonderful memories of the A-3, as well as the great guys I worked with during my 20's, and now in my late 60's. I still say we had a better aircraft than the McDonnel Douglas one the government went with. Can't even remeber that plane!
01/12/2007 @ 18:06 [ref: 15172]