VIGILANTE
VIGILANTE

Manufacturer

NORTH AMERICAN

Markings:

Reconnaissance Attack Squadron 3 (RVAH-3), Albany Naval Air Station, Georgia, 1970

Designation:

RA-5C

Serial Number:

149289

NORTH AMERICAN RA-5C VIGILANTE

The Vigilante is one of the largest aircraft to routinely fly from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carriers. It was designed in the late 1950s as a supersonic nuclear capable attack bomber. The Vigilante first flew in August 1958 and deliveries of operational aircraft began in 1960. The A3J, as it was then designated, featured a unique bomb bay arrangement in which the bomb was ejected out a chute that exited between the aircraft's engines. This system proved to be very troublesome and in fact many problems were never solved. A change in policy eliminated the Navy's strategic nuclear bombing role and the Vigilante's mission was changed to reconnaissance. At the same time the Navy's aircraft designation system was changed and the A3J became the A-5A and the reconnaissance version became the RA-5C. Existing Vigilantes were upgraded and modified to serve as photoreconnaissance aircraft and further examples were built in the new configuration. The Vigilante served with the U.S. Navy until 1979.

Specifications

  • Wingspan: 53 ft
  • Length: 76 ft 6 in
  • Height: 19 ft 4 in
  • Weight: 79,588 lbs (loaded)
  • Max. Speed: 1,385 mph
  • Service Ceiling: 48,400 ft
  • Range: 3,000 miles
  • Engines: 2 General Electric J79-GE-10 turbojets 10,800 lbs thrust each
  • Crew: 2